Deep ruby color; cherry, plum on the nose; cherry, raspberry, strawberry, plum, leather, herbs, white pepper, licorice on the palate.
Dry; medium-full body; medium, somewhat grippy tannins, but smooth, easy drinker over all. The tannins easily mellow with air. Touch of tartness; good acidity; 14% ABV. This is blend of syrah, grenache, carignan, but neither bottle label nor website definitely pins this down. The wine ages in vats; there is hint of oak, but only slight. Vats can be stainless steel, concrete, or oak. The website and technical notes do not specify what M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut vats are made of.
The House of Bila, a translation of the name of the estate, once was a refuge for the Knights Templar, which explains the symbol of the label of this wine. The Chapoutier family moto is Fac et Sprea—“do and hope”. Their website celebrates audacity: “Being audacious means keeping an open mind, embracing new horizons, other localities, other organic winegrowing methods. Being audacious means combining tradition and modernity, making it possible for them to join forces and engender new know-how and craft.”
Part of that approach is careful attention to terroir, which includes responsible agriculture commitments and biodynamic agriculture in some areas. Led by winemaker Michael Chapoutier, they pioneered a special wine team dedicated to “accompanying the wine harvest” to provide guidance and support for implementing farming methods favored by M. Chapoutier among grape growers who provide grapes to the winery. These grapes come from “the warm and savage soils of the Roussillon area,” according to the website.
M. Chapoutier also asserts dedication to consumers. Their stated values include: “Respect for the consumer whether they are wine connoisseurs or not. Maison M. Chapoutier crafts its regional wines with the same dedication given to the most prestigious bottles, investing just as much faith. The aim is always to convey the same love of wine, to give complete beginners a chance to discover its diversity.”
M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2017 is another high value effort in M. Chapoutier’s Côtes du Roussillon Villages, their entry-level bottlings. Big red fruits with savory elements and velvety mouthfeel, especially after some air. Consider decanting. Excellent quality-price ratio. Pair with braised meats and stews; slow-cooked pork or lamb roasts; hearty Spanish or Portuguese country cooking; could work with lighter Indian dishes; shepherds pie; barbecue; comfort foods like burgers, sliders, meat-lover pizza; cheddar and red leicester cheese. $13-15