Château d'Oupia Minervois 2005
Château d'Oupia's standard red Minervois offering is a lot of wine for the single digit
price I paid, and that doesn't even factor in what a few years of cellaring might do. The
Languedoc in the south of France has a reputation for wine uncertainty—more than a few
gems amid a great deal of quantity-over-quality plonk—and this wine falls on the quality side,
giving straightforward pleasure with no discernable shortcomings. This is hardly the cheap
Minervois of the French hyper-marché.
The proprietor of Château d'Oupia, André Iché, inherited the property but avoided the winemaking aspect for many years, selling his grapes to local négociants. Fifteen years ago a visiting winemaker convinced Iché to go the full winemaking route, and Iché took the task seriously. His basic Minervois blend is 60% Carignan, 30% Syrah and 10% Grenache (Iché also produces two oak-aged Cuvées comprised of 60% Syrah and 40% Carignan). The wine is a deep purple, with solid notes of cherry, plum, prune and black pepper. Both tannins and acidity stay the course toward a satisfying finish. Behind the fruit, if you don't quaff it (and beware, this wine wants to be quaffed) you may be rewarded by some smoky bacon and a whiff of tobacco.
Food is a natural with this wine, though it is accessible alone. You want to enjoy it with all
that red meat that some people don't eat (for joy, all the more for us). If I ran a restaurant
(which I never will because members of my family would have me committed first), I would
make this a mainstay for my red wine by the glass program; I feel it has a lot more flexibility
than the usual Cabernets, and can hold its own against most any Aussie Shiraz in its price
range, and even a notch above. Carignan is a grape that can often disappoint, but it is
well-appointed in this wine.
Verdict: More Than Drinkable
When I like a wine, it is an enormous effort not to buy a case, which I can cuddle and caress before putting it away.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman