Chateau d'Aussieres Corbieres
wine pixies

Chateau d'Aussieres Corbieres

Elevated to full AOC status in 1981, Languedoc's Corbières is large, productive, and ever promising. Château d'Aussières follows the interesting practice, common in Corbières, of vinifying some of its varietals using carbonic maceration (a quick technique usually associated with simple wines designed to be drunk new), yet then aging the wines in various configurations of new and used oak, before blending the result with wines made using conventional fermentation. The blend of varietals and vinification techniques brings significant flavor and texture potential, in this case realized.

Corbières is itself divided into eleven zones. The Château d'Aussières properties are located in the Frontfroide and Boutenac zones near the ancient wine city of Narbonne in the northeast corner of the appellation. Though they have produced wines for centuries (Languedoc is the oldest wine producing region in France) the properties were acquired by Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) in 1999. As it has done with acquired properties all over the world, Lafite added more than its renowned name to the operation; it poured in money and expertise, reinvigorating the vineyards and renovating the cellars. We would expect to pay a few dollars more for the label nevertheless, but here we have a pleasant surprise: both the AOC wines I reviewed retail for about $14.

The 2006 Château d'Aussières Corbières is 14% abv, and leads with Syrah, filled in with Grenache and Mourvèdre. In color the wine is a clear but very dark ruby. The nose is pronounced, very rich, and led by nutmeg, rose and violet flowers, sweet licorice, smoke, tilled earth, with deep red fruit well integrated into the aromatic mix. The wine is very dry, with mid-level acidity and medium body. The palate gives a good lot of red fruit (cherry, strawberry, cranberry, pomegranate) but the promise of the nose is not to be denied: smoked meat, earth, sweet oak, chocolate, vanilla and baking spice. The finish is nicely balanced between tangy red fruit and smoky herb, with a dark chocolate aftertaste. Though well balanced and Old World in its flavor configuration, there is nothing stolid or conservative about this wine and it is a whole lot of fun to drink.

The 2005 Blason d'Aussières Corbières is 13% abv, 50% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre and 10% Carignan, aged 18 months in a combination of barrel and vat. The richly red wine has a true Mediterranean feel to it: a stimulating nose of spice and garrigue (the hill scrub so characteristic of the region), with red raspberry, dried cherry and a bit of warm strawberry from the Grenache. In the mouth the wine is very dry and yet plump and supple with some resilient acidity. On the palate the spice and garrigue continue to stimulate, this time accompanied by darker fruit like black plum and blueberry, well concentrated. Tannins are fine grained and misty soft. Wood undertones of cedar and chocolate with vanilla come out on the mid palate but ripe dark fruit prevails on the finish. This one is ready to drink.

Verdict: Puts a lot on the table

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Languedoc in south central France became the country's first wine producing region back in classical times, and is still going strong today.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


Typical garrigue in the south of France.

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