For a hot moment in the late 90′s, France’s Mediterranean vineyards were trendy, in particular the Languedoc-Roussillon. The good folks at Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate couldn’t rate the wines high enough, new wineries were popping up every day, and prices were going through the roof. For a wine region that was principally known for jug wines previously, this was a remarkable turn around.
The hype has cooled down since then. The big-ticket luxury wines have all but disappeared from the shelves in America. Despite a sizable drop in prices, quality has remained high. Domaine Forca Real is an example of a winery that began during those heady days, made headway into the US markets, and still manages to produce world-class wines at less than luxury prices.
Jean-Paul Henriquès and his son Cyril have created something special with Domaine Forca Real. Their vineyards are mostly old head pruned vines of Grenache and Carignan. Some newer plots of Syrah were planted in the 90′s, as well. All are terraced on hillsides of schist and loess.
The Mas de la Garrigue gets little to no oak, which is something I prefer when it comes to Grenache-based wines. For those craving sticks with their stones, I suggest seeking out their Les Hauts de Força Réal.
Enough chit-chat, let’s talk about this wine. This is a crowd pleaser, as long as your friends aren’t too trashy or too timid. This is a round and fleshy wine, medium bodied and very ripe. Aromas of sage and marjoram are followed by burnt toast and white pepper. On the palate, there is a spoonful of blackberry and melted chocolate that is followed up by a puff of tobacco smoke.
For food pairings, think pork. Smoked pork chops with rosemary potatoes will work well. You could also grill up some sweet fennel sausages and have a great time. Even some tuscan-style bean dishes will work great with this wine.