Minervois AOC is like a huge, south facing amphitheatre rising from the Canal du Midi in the South to the Montagne Noire in the north. Climatically there is an Atlantic influence in the West near Carcassonne, moving to Mediterranean in the east near Narbonne. Minervois lying north of Corbieres and the River Aude has wines of exceptional value. Carignan is the main grape. From the 1999 vintage, this variety will account for no more than 40 percent of Minervois blends. Meanwhile Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache are becoming more important. Since 1997 Minervois La Liviniere, in the centre of the district, has been awarded its own appellation. The rocky soils, hilly terrain, and warm, dry climate here produce wines (96 percent red) that are fuller, firmer and longer lived.

Lighter Minervois is juicy, raspberry-fruity and made for drinking now. Better versions are warm, welcoming and spicy, full of rich, sweet, smoky, blackcurrant, plum and berry flavours, often with a hint of vanilla on the finish courtesy of oak ageing.

Chateau La Grave 2008 AC Minervois, 13%, €12.99

The nose is of warm climate, plums and soft spice aromas. The palate is really juicy and very smooth. There are plenty of juicy black fruit flavours with soft and rounded tannins. The wine is so juicy and very smooth.

Perfect alone or prefect marriage with beef, hard cheese, burgers, turkey, vegetarian, game or steak…


This Week’s Snippet of Info…

What is the difference between French Syrah and Australian Shiraz?

This is the same grape. French Syrah is deeply coloured and full bodied with flavours of black fruits, pepper and burnt rubber. Australian Shiraz is a riper and more intense style of wine, due to the warmer climate.

Available from Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon

And good independent Off Licences