Mas Lavail Carignan Vielles Vignes Terre d’Ardoise 2011
Often thought of as the main contributor to the French “wine lake” generated mostly from the Languedoc region, an area not heralded for wine per se but actually the largest producer of any of the Gallic regions, Carignan typically finds itself near the end of a list of blending grapes in finer wines, known for its deep color and high acidity but rarely valued as a name on a label.
It is perhaps, then, due to this malignment that we find in Mas Lavail Carignan Vielles Vignes Terre d’Ardoise 2011 such a nice little wine for such a nice little price. It surely is a beauty, especially considering that oh-so-coveted sub-$10 price tag. The addition of about 15% Grenache contributes to a feeling of Cote du Rhone without the name, and though certainly quality CdR can be had for less than $15, $10 is stretching it.
There’s an earthiness to Carignan that brings balance here, a distinct barnyardy quality one typically finds in Burgundy. There’s also smoke alongside deep purple fruits, and an almost candied character that hints at carbonic maceration (a technique sometimes employed with this grape). Of course, there’s also plenty of that bracing acidity Carignan is known for, making this a versatile food pick.
It’s no surprise this one is selling briskly at state stores, so pick some up while it lasts.