Picture tasting in Lionel Faury’s cellar, high on a vine-covered hill in the very north of the northern Rhône. He splashes a sample of deep purple juice into your goblet: a Syrah that leaps out of the glass, as if ripe olives, violets, and an array of black fruits had been smooshed together with a granite mortar and pestle, its tooth-staining contents emptied out and strained to leave behind a vinous elixir teeming with life and vividly fresh aromas, coating the palate like stone-ground blackberry pulp with each velvety sip.
Deep in the Hautes-Corbières, a wildly hilly region of the Languedoc midway between Narbonne and Perpignan, a young Maxime Magnon stumbled upon a treasure: ancient vineyard parcels in steep, rocky soils destined to be abandoned, as local farmers were unwilling to break their backs to eke out tiny yields of wine that would ultimately get lost in the town co-op’s generic blend. Maxime seized the opportunity and bought the vineyards, immediately going organic. Today, Campagnès is his greatest red, a century-old field blend of mostly Carignan that is fermented whole-cluster and bottled unfiltered with very little sulfur. He counts Allemand, Barral, and Lapierre among his strongest influences, and it shows—this drinks like great cru Beaujolais infused with southern soul.
Treat this smooth, juicy red as you would a Côtes du Rhône. After all, the grapes—mostly Grenache and Syrah—come from the heart of the southern Rhône, where they are pampered by Mediterranean sunshine and sublimated by fresh breezes filled with herbal scents of the garrigue. One of our best deals from France, the Vaucluse rouge is especially gulpable in the 2018 vintage: opportune rains yielded a less powerful wine than in other years and instead bestowed a tender floral character that is seriously hard to resist.
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