Abbots & Delaunay Alto Stratus 2010 is made from 100% Carignan, traditionally something of a workhorse grape of southern France and next-door Spain.
However, when made from old vines, it reveals a distinctive and characterful crowd-pleasing complexity.
Although labelled as nothing more than a basic Vin de France, it is from Languedoc and is a very good wine indeed with a gold from Decanter and a Silver from IWSC. A bit of internet research reveals that the vines are 100 years old but AOC restrictions mean that a single-variety wine cannot be labelled as AOC Minervois as the wine is required to be a blend of at least two varieties.
Purple in the glass, there are dark fruits, spice and a touch of undergrowth on the nose.
The palate is complex with more ripe smokey damson, pine dust and elderberry fruit with black and red cherries, some garrigue herbs good acidity and vanilla spice.
The tannins are ripe and smooth and there is good depth of flavour. The texture is creamy-custardy smooth.
The finish is persistent with just a touch of gentle grip and some more smokey-spicy-funkiness.
It's priced a little out of everyday drinking territory, but is very good indeed and worth the cost. It drinks very well straight out of the bottle, but improves slightly with air.
Match with herby butcher's sausages or roast lamb with rosemary.
£16.99 from Avery's; provided for review.
Avery's - http://www.averys.com/
Abbots & Delaunay - http://www.abbottsetdelaunay.com/