Finding good value wines is not easy—or rather, producing them is not easy. Cheap plonk, the result of intensive farming typically done with little respect for the land or the nuances of taste, can be found by the ocean-full, but coming across that elusive, well-priced bottle that brings us back for a second and third sip is another story altogether. Beyond production costs for the juice itself, one must factor in to the final price glass bottles, corks, capsules, labels, import tariffs, and, of course, refrigerated trans-Atlantic shipping. Given all the players involved, each one logically demanding a piece of the pie, it is a miracle our shop is home to any bottles under $15. We have occasionally sought out custom bottlings of delicious, easy-drinking wines from co-ops, where we can taste a wide array of base wines from which to choose and blend to our desired specifications. We always aim to foster long-term relationships with the winemakers in order to ensure access to the best fruit, while preserving a goût de terroir through the low-intervention methodology we value in all our domaine-bottled wines. Our Languedoc rouge is made possible thanks to longtime partner Jean-Claude Zabalia, who since selling his own domaine has become vice president of the emergent Languedoc-Cabrières AOC and works closely with Cabrières’s small co-op. Each year, Jean-Claude speaks with the local growers and visits their vineyards with this very cuvée in mind. Always present through harvest and vinification, he then selects the best lots for us to work with based on what he thinks our clients will appreciate—after collaborating for more than twenty-five years, Jean-Claude has a pretty good idea of what we like. Crucially, he negotiates a great price with the co-op, so the bottle arrives on your table at a bargain cost. The 2017 blend we selected is full of the dark, brambly wild fruit, laced with spice and hints of dried herbs, that is typical of Languedoc reds. It boasts a lively mineral freshness thanks to the stunning schist terroir of Cabrières, surrounded by scrubby thyme and juniper on high-elevation hillsides. With all that goes into producing each bottle, this is indisputably among the finest values in our portfolio. A complete wine with juicy fruit, gulpability, and a sense of place, all for just twelve buckeroos: I dare you to find a better deal!
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