Domaine Louise-Fabry Corbières Le Val 2002
I keep squinting at the receipt, but yes this Corbières set me back less than $10, and when I
think how little I could have gotten for that outlay elsewhere, it adds a layer to the
experience. The Corbières appellation in the Languedoc region of southern France covers a
fairly large and topographically varied area and also a broad array of allowed grape
combinations—Carignan, Mourvèdre, Lladoner Pelut, Picpoul Noir, Terret—but this
estate-bottled Corbières relies on a straightforward blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah
(and I note in other vintages that the Grenache can rise to 80%). Syrah and Grenache get
along; the Syrah adds both tannins and acidity and deepens both the fruit and the spice of the
Domaine Louise-Fabry is situated in the inland area of the Corbières appellation (which abuts the Mediterranean in parts) and practices sustainable viticulture (l'agriculture raisonnée in French), minimizing the use of chemicals. The soil in the well elevated vineyard is a combination of limestone and clay; the area is generally dry and hot, perfect for both the Grenache and the Syrah (though the Grenache is definitely in charge in this blend). Red fruit predominates: plum, with touches of sour cherry and raspberry. There are notes of cedar, with black pepper on the nose and a cocoa/coffee note on the palate. The tannins are surprisingly supple for a wine in this price category. The well-integrated acidity and the resilient fruit yield a good mid-palate and a respectable finish.
This is unquestionably a rustic Old World wine, the kind I let myself really enjoy. The
Corbières succeeds in getting a few basic elements right, and in harmonizing those elements
into a wine that yields more than the sum of its parts.
All wines are made in the country, but it takes a real country wine to bring the country from the land through all the processes to the bottle and the glass.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman