Carignan grape and Château du Grand Caumont wines – It’s quite difficult to believe that the Carignan grape play a major role in France’s wine industry, yet many wine drinkers have never heard of the variety. Today, this red wine grape is mostly used as a workhorse variety, famous for its rich dark colour.
Carignan is very popular in Languedoc, Sardinia and Catalonia wine regions. In fact, some wine historians believe that the Phoenicians introduced the variety to Sardinia in the 9th Century, but this hypothesis is constantly debated.
Winelovers that praise the variety praise Carignan opening punch, with hints of tobacco, olive and brown sugar rounding out in the palate. Because of its tannic and acidic structure, Carignan would go best with broiled lamb chops, charcoal roast chicken or beef kebabs season with Mediterranean herbs.
Château du Grand Caumont in Corbieres, France
I recently had a chance to encounter Laurence Rigal from Château du Grand Caumont in a recent visit in Montreal at the office of its Canadian importer: Philippe Dandurand Wines.
Laurence Rigal has run Château du Grand Caumont for the past 15 years. She is also an administrator for the AOP Corbières syndicate, and a founding member of the regional association “Parole de Femmes”
The domaine was acquired by Laurence’s grandfather, Louis Rigal in 1906 but the property already existed since Roman times and by the late XIX century, it was famous for its experimental spirit. Louis passed on the domaine to his son, who also beared his name. During the 1980’s, Louis’ wife Francoise took over managerial duties at the domaine. According to Laurence, at that time her mother carried out a massive replantation grape program in the property, pulling out unsuitable grape varieties with new ones such as Syrah and Grenache. However, she left untouched the Carignan grapes.This treasure chest of old vines ( 80 + years in some cases) gives that special character to Caumont wines.
I was really impressed by the courageous nature of this woman. In 2003, Laurence Rigal took the reigns of the domaine. She used to live in Paris and work in marketing before changing careers.It was her love of her mother, the wine and the fear of losing her family roots that pushed to pursue a career in winemaking.
Like her predecessors, Laurence is no stranger to innovation. To preserve the freshness of her reds, she vinifies the old Carignan grapes are using the carbonic maceration method from the Beaujolais that includes whole cluster fermentation. On the other hand, the younger Carignan vines are destemmed vinified using traditional winemaking techniques. Laurence is also a strong believer in the art of grape assembly, the sum of the parts is better than the individual selves.
Château du Grand Caumont Tradition 2016 SAQ # 316620 $12.65
Deep and complex nose. Aromas ranging from licorice, ripe black fruit to bacon fat drippings. Powerful and long in the palate with firm tannins and a persistent finale. Overdelivers in quality for the price. Drinking well now but can be kept for the next 5 years.
Château du Grand Caumont Impatience 2016
SAQ # 978189 $18.60
Highly aromatic nose with powerful scents of musk, cedar complemented by dry blood and smoke undertones. Silky in the palate with polished tannins and a nice acidity. Overall, a very harmonious and elegant wine. Drinking well but can be cellared for the next 10 years
Château du Grand Caumont Réserve de Laurence 2016.
(Private Import, $25.95, 6x750ml, Galleonwines.ca,)
Lovely nose bringing to mind dry wild black fruits, tuscan tobacco and confit violets with a finishing touch of porcini mushroom. Powerful yet not overly extracted with a nice acidity complemented by a long aromatic finale reminiscent of middle eastern spices. Buy a case, drink 1 bottle and continue exploring its development over the next five years.
Chateau du Grand Caumont Capus Monti 2015
( Private Import, $44.95, 6x750ml, Galleonwines.ca
Available from Mid August 2018)
Intense bouquet with complex mineral and animal notes complemented by wild fennel, cassis and black cherry. Rich in the palate with round tannins and a very long finale. A bit difficult to drink because of its young age but should be in its prime in the next decade. For the cellar.
Marco Giovanetti – email@example.com