Monday, November 19, 2007

A Varietal Counoise

Now here's something different — varietal Counoise. If used at all, Counoise is apt to play a walk-on role in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but here it stars in the one-grape revue Domaine Monpertuis Vignoble de la Ramiere Cuvée Counoise Vin de Pays du Gard 2004.

Um, that's a mouthful, but then, so is this light bodied wine. I really like it — it has a pronounced pepper-and-herb nose, bright red fruits of pomegranate and cherry and cranberry, stones, and an acidity that grabs the tongue in a bony bear hug. Shy and retiring it's not, but this is a food wine with lift: it goes really well with modestly spiced lamb shawarma, and I'd also pair this with rosemary chicken, steamed broccoli dressed in salt and pepper and olive oil, or any number of lighter Mediterranean dishes.

At $13, it's a good choice not just for Monday night but for most any night, such as Thanksgiving. With its food-friendly lift and bright, peppery character, I'm a bit mystified why Counoise is not more broadly grown in the Rhône and the Languedoc, if nothing else but to add a kick to some of the bigger, richer wines. Its scarcity is odder to me than drinking varietal Counoise!

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