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A Soulful and Age-Worthy Red from the South of France

A Soulful and Age-Worthy Red from the South of France

by Tom Wolf by Tom Wolf

2019 Corbières Rouge “Réserve La Demoiselle”

2019 Corbières Rouge “Réserve La Demoiselle”

Domaine de Fontsainte   

Discount Eligible $23.00
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This rouge achieves that rare feat of delivering class, charm, and complexity whether you open it right after release or twenty years later.


I wish you could have tasted the 1982 Demoiselle I pulled from my cellar recently. Ten years old, at its peak, incredibly delicious…Cellar an inexpensive wine? I know, not many collectors do. Too bad. If you like, though, we will charge you more for it so you won’t feel weird. Anything to please the customer.
—Kermit Lynch, February 1993

When I first started working at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, I couldn’t resist asking my veteran colleagues which of our imports filled their cellars (which often meant a rented locker in a climate-controlled warehouse). I imagined decades-old bottles of Chablis, Bandol, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape lying untouched, waiting to be opened at the perfect time.
     I was partly right—my colleagues had these bottles here and there—but to my surprise, the answer I got most often was not an exalted name in Burgundy or the Rhône Valley, but one of the extraordinary bargains of our portfolio, from an underappreciated region of France we know to produce great quality and value: Domaine de Fontsainte’s Corbières “La Demoiselle.”
     Digging deeper into this cuvée’s origins, it maybe shouldn’t have been a surprise after all. Hailing from the rugged and windswept hills of Corbières, which teem with garrigue and olive groves, La Demoiselle delivers a glorious taste of the South. Made mostly from the Languedoc’s great red grape, Carignan, from vines planted as far back as 1904, this rouge achieves that rare feat of delivering class, charm, and complexity whether you open it right after release or twenty years later, as a magnificently fresh and silky bottle from the 2001 vintage proved last week. With notes of dark fruit, leather, and spice, and an abundance of soul, the 2019 vintage is no exception. It’s no wonder why my colleagues were stashing cases of this wine away to drink over many years. I, for one, plan to open this bottle many more times in the decades to come. 

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About The Region

Languedoc-Roussillon

map of Languedoc-Roussillon

Ask wine drinkers around the world, and the word “Languedoc” is sure to elicit mixed reactions. On the one hand, the region is still strongly tied to its past as a producer of cheap, insipid bulk wine in the eyes of many consumers. On the other hand, it is the source of countless great values providing affordable everyday pleasure, with an increasing number of higher-end wines capable of rivaling the best from other parts of France.

While there’s no denying the Languedoc’s checkered history, the last two decades have seen a noticeable shift to fine wine, with an emphasis on terroir. Ambitious growers have sought out vineyard sites with poor, well draining soils in hilly zones, curbed back on irrigation and the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and looked to balance traditional production methods with technological advancements to craft wines with elegance, balance, and a clear sense of place. Today, the overall quality and variety of wines being made in the Languedoc is as high as ever.

Shaped like a crescent hugging the Mediterranean coast, the region boasts an enormous variety of soil types and microclimates depending on elevation, exposition, and relative distance from the coastline and the cooler foothills farther inland. While the warm Mediterranean climate is conducive to the production of reds, there are world-class whites and rosés to be found as well, along with stunning dessert wines revered by connoisseurs for centuries.

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Vintage Chart

Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch