|Country & Region||France, Languedoc|
|Producer||Françoise Le Calvez & Pascal Frissant|
|Founded||1987; family property since 1614|
F rançoise Le Calvez and her enologist husband Pascal Frissant (a.k.a. The Poet from the Loire) work their domaine with passion and acumen high in the Mediterranean hinterlands. Their vineyards are in Le Causse and Le Petit Causse (a causse refers to an enormous outcropping of exposed rock— in this case, limestone—that supports little more than garrigue and can cultivate little more than olives and vines).
These two delimited areas make up the highest growing zones in the Minervois appellation. At 750 to 1,350 feet above sea level, these zones have relatively cool nights and the growing season is the longest in the AOC (domaines down on the plain often begin harvesting a full two weeks earlier). The wines from Coupe Roses have excellent acidity and freshness, which Françoise adores, without any plodding, overripe character, which she avoids like the plague.
Françoise’s father hails from Brittany (Le Calvez turns out to be a common Breton name), but her mother’s side of the family has been in La Caunette for at least twelve generations. The village essentially is a one-street village strung along a bench at the base of a tall limestone cliff that towers above the Cesse River. Cesseshares the root word of cease and cessation, because in summer this river stops running. La Caunette, for its etymological part, is Occitan, referring to small cave dwellings; in ancient times, the locals lived in caves burrowed into the cliff. Just upstream is the village of Minerve, which gives its name to the appellation of Minervois. It sits high on a pinnacle of limestone at the confluence of the Cesse and the Rieussec, hidden in a mountain valley behind the first range of mountains after the vast Mediterranean plain. It was here that the Cathars (catharsis–to purge!) had a stronghold, which held out for months before surrendering early in a twenty-year crusade launched by Pope Innocent III in 1209 that swept over the Languedoc and burned infidels wherever they could find them. They found a lot in Minerve.
|Champ du Roy blanc||70% Grenache Blanc, |
30% Muscat Petits Grains
|A hugely aromatic, dry blend of Grenache Blanc and Muscat from low-yielding mountain vineyards. This wine is not acidified, nor is it cold stabilized; malo is blocked. Yearly production averages 1,000 cases.|
|Frémillant Rosé||40% Mourvèdre, 30% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, 10% Syrah||A rosé de saignée based on Mourvèdre from parcels chosen for this rosé, harvested by hand, and aged in tank. Frémillant is an old Occitane word referring to light red wine, and this is not a pale Provençal rosé--rather, it is a deliciously bone dry, character-filled rosé made by an artisanal family in the upper Minervois. Yearly production averages 1,000 cases.|
|Even split Carignan and Grenache,|
|The first of four Minervois cuvées, this one brought up in tank. A terrific buy for a true vin de terroir. In this wine is all the garrigue underbrush of the high Minervois, laced with high-toned blueberry notes and underpinned by Carignan's tarry black notes. Yearly production averages 3,300 cases.|
|60% Syrah, 30% Grenache,|
|We’re in the south, so pronounce that final "s." Vignals is the tier above Bastide and like Bastide, this is raised entirely in tank. Deliciously medium-weight, fresh, spicy, long, and infused with garrigue. Yearly production averages 5,400 cases. You should buy some.|
|Grenache cuvée with 10% Syrah||Granaxa is Occitane dialect for Grenache, and this is Coupe Rose’s Grenache cuvée, raised in second and third-year oak barrels. Now we get into more weight and body, with distinctly earthy overtones in the red fruit. Their Grenache grows in their stoniest soils. Yearly production averages 1,000 cases.|
|Syrah with 10% Grenache||This is the domain’s top cuvée based on Syrah, made in barrels, about one-third of which are new. The Syrah comes from their limestone parcels with the most clay high up on the plateau above the village. Orience has black/blue fruit with spice, earth and elegance in spades. It's with this cuvée that the mountain microclimate really shines through. Production averages 600 cases.|