2016 Chateau Massiac, Minervois Rouge, Languedoc, France.
Here is an absolute stunner that has to be one of the great values of the vintage, proving again the Languedoc is a go to spot for awesome bargains, this savvy black fruited and spicy blend, heavily influence by the Mediterranean climate, made by Bernard Boudouresques of Chateau Massiac, in the Minerois region, is all organic hillside grown blend of about 75% Syrah and 25% Carignan, though they do have small amounts of Grenache and Mourvèdre as well. The Chateau Massiac, founded back in 1667, has a long history that dates back to the Roman Empire when this area was colonized by the Romans using the nearby Mediterranean port (30 kilometers) of Narbonne as an access point. In the 17th Century, two brothers from Massiac in the Auvergne region traversed the area in service to the King of Spain and eventually settled at this spot situated almost precisely halfway between the clock towers of the villages of Azille and Rieux Minervois.
Sadly during the French Revolution, the original “chateau” was burned to the ground in a statement against the disparity of wealth in France at the time. The certified organic domaine lies at the extreme south of the Massif Centrale, effectively in the gently sloping foothills that lead to the Mediterranean coast which is not terribly distant. The terroir is unique here with mainly clay, silt and sand with subsoils that are essentially limestone/silex and marble infusions, all of which was formed during the ancient Lutecian geologic era. The soils have particularly good drainage which accounts for the sexy concentration that Massiac delivers in its wines, especial their classic Massiac Minervois Rouge. As well, as importer Rosenthal notes, the site is exposed to both the winds that sweep north from the Mediterranean and the cooling northwest breezes coming from the mountains known as Le Cers which consistently dries the vineyard and makes it less vulnerable to the maladies of the vine, with this constant air flow aiding the health of grapes.
The 2016 Minervois was made with selected yeasts and fermentation and aging occurs in concrete tanks with about a month of maceration and primary, then the wine is racked back into concrete for aging that is almost 18 months, which gives these wines their sense of power, extraction and purity of form. This vintage, from all de-stemmed grapes, one of the best I’ve tasted from this domaine, shows blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry, plum and kirsch fruits along with dried lavender, anise, earthy loam, crushed chalk rock and lingering floral notes, light herbal elements, cassis and game. There is a presence in the glass with its inviting opaque purple/garnet hue and seductive medium/full boding palate and serious impact, something you usually don’t find in such a normally rustic country wine, this Chateau Massiac is a complex and opulent Rhone like wine that compares well with much more pricy wines, like those from Gigondas and Vacqueyras!
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive