Yes, I really went all out for this, my inaugural Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) event, and tasted THREE qualifying wines. As I've mentioned in my previous entires, the theme for this month's WBW was "Mid-Priced wines from the Midi" (i.e., $15-$30 bottles of wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, also known as the Midi). You can read all about it at the WBW#33 host's blog, Doktor Weingolb.
Saving what I hoped would be the best for last, my third entry into WBW#33 was a 2004 Domaine Le Pas de l'Escalette "Les Clapas". The label proclaimed it was from the Coteaux du Languedoc AOC, and it also mentioned Terrasses du Larzac. A little research determined that Terrasses du Larzac was one of the Northern-most regions of the Languedoc-Rousillon in Southern France (I guess that just makes it Middle France?). This wine was produced by the same winemakers as my Entry #1 for WBW#33, only this wine costs an additional $5 per bottle ($20 at FineWine.com in Gathersburg, MD) and carries that added designation of "Terrasses du Larzac".
A good rule of thumb I've learned when reading labels is "the more specific the label, the better the wine". For example, you may see bottles labeled as simply a "California" Cabernet Sauvignon - this is likely of lower quality than a "Sonoma County" Cabernet Sauvignon, or better yet - a "Russian River Valley" Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County, CA. And the best yet is often when the label designates a specific vineyard - this is about as specific as you can get. Thus I was excited to taste a wine that should be "one step up" from my WBW#33 Entry #1 wine.
Most of the time, Kris and I see pretty eye-to-eye when it comes to wine. This is obviously quite fortunate as it makes splitting a bottle much easier! This wine was a bit of an exception however; I don't know if seasonal allergies just had me stuffed up a bit so that I was missing out, but Kris was a lot more impressed with this wine than I was.
I thought the nose was quite subdued, with hints of old leather and spices. Kris was gushing over all of the bright, young fruit on the nose, which I missed completely. On the tongue, Kris continued to taste the fruit, whereas I enjoyed the tangy spiciness of this wine. We both agreed that it had very nice complexity, especially for grenache, with nice tannin structure.
As we drank it with dinner, the wine really started to open up, and *then* I was able to start picking up some of the fruit. By this point the wine was over half gone, and we were kicking ourselves for not decanting it in the beginning. I bet if we had, I'd have had a similar initial reaction as Kris.
This was a very enjoyable wine, but at $20, this is several bucks above our usual $8-$14 nightly bottle. Considering that, I have to rate this wine as "OK quality-to-price ratio" - the quality was there, but the price was a bit high. Kris pointed out that it was probably pretty hard to get this much complexity into wines of this style, so for her it was a good QPR. Although she could have found a bottle she enjoyed more for less, she thought that this Les Clapas was a great example of what could be done with Rhône-style blends at a much more affordable price than a Chateauneuf du Pape.
In terms of this month's WBW theme, we both really enjoyed exploring wines from the Midi, and will definitely consider Languedoc-Roussillon wines in a restaurant or for adding to our cellar! Thanks for the great theme Marcus!