Bila Haut “L’Esquerda” – A Riveting Organic Red Blend from Southern France


“Hints of violets, Mediterranean spices, lavender, wild herbs and freshly picked dark berries….”

Tantalizing, descriptive words that entice you to buy wine based upon it’s flavor profile. Wouldn’t you agree?

Would this description make you consider buying a wine? “Very stinky cow manure, rotten pond and must.” These words were used to describe the very wine I wish to attempt to convince you that you cannot live without. The “manure comment” comes from the innovative online wine legend Gary Vaynerchuk. And he is correct.

Now. contrast that with these words from blogger Brian Freedman: “If there’s a better wine for a Fred Flintstone-sized slab of meat on the grill this weekend, I haven’t had it.” He is correct.

Gary went on to say he really likes this wine. I agree. In fact, it would easily make its way onto a list of the top five wines I’ve tried recently. (And I tasted well over 100 wines last week.)

I certainly detect those hints of what is often termed “barnyard”, “horse sweat”, “meaty” and “dirty.” Perhaps these flavors are found in the wine because horses are used in the highly inaccessible, steep vineyards? Highly unlikely. They are merely a result of the hot climate affect on the grapes. Honestly, I would use the more mundane words smoke and bacon over even, uh, “barnyardy.”

The real treat from this wine is it’s surprisingly sturdy backbone of blue and purple florals of wisteria, bluebells, violets and lavender followed by the granite-laden soils imparting a wonderful minerality and ensuing complexity. The finish is riveting, highlighted by that summertime “just rained” freshness, graphite, pepper, thyme and dusty sun-dried wild herbs.

The wine should certainly have pedigree if the winemaker were the sole reason for it’s tasteful pleasure, but there’s more to the story here.

Legendary Rhone viticulturist Michel Chapoutier lends his skills to nature after he purchased the land in 1999 in this sleepy southern French growing region of Languedoc-Roussillon, near the Spanish border. (It should be noted that the talented, often outspoken Chapoutier has garnered more 99 and 100 point wine ratings from The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate than any other current vintner with the possible exception of Chris Ringland.)

The vines in this single vineyard, Lesquerde, average thirty years of age. The blend is 60% syrah, 20% grenache and 20% carignan. The brilliant acidity and grip are derived by aging 80 to 90% of the wine in concrete vats and 10 to 20% of the wine in 600 liter barrels. This prevents the hiding of true elements of the wine by using too much oak.

This is a picnic wine, but an even better for your first steak on the grill of 2012! May that be a quick reality during the 60+ degree days of the first week of March. If not, then save it for lamb chops with rosemary and garlic with a special dinner companion that you truly love!

This is very limited. We have less than 50 bottles.

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