The first occasion in this holiday season is behind us and with it the difficult choice of choosing the “just right” wine for dinner. Now we can relax and relish this time of year, winding down the calendar, gearing up for family visits or just spending time with a few good friends all of which allows us to choose a wine for fun and pleasure without the pressure of pairing the wine to the expectations of others. Michel Chapoutier’s 2014 Les Vignes de Bila Haut Red may be that wine, fun and fruity for casual entertaining, but with enough structure to complement a holiday meal if you choose.
This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan grapes from the Roussillon region of Southern France pours out a deep garnet colored liquid into the glass. The bouquet is dominated by black cherry and fills your nose with fruit and a touch of cut green herbs in a less than subtle fashion. The flavor profile is very up front cherry and berry fruits that carry into the mid palate where they are joined by a the earth notes of stone and wood before diminishing rapidly toward a spice finish. The fruit forward style makes for a very drinkable wine that has enough earth element to tone it down and tannin to wrap it up like a boxed holiday gift. Pardon the seasonal analogy, but that is how the wine struck me, like a well assembled gift for the mouth that is more fun in total than in its individual parts.
Given the crowds and hurried shopping this time of year it is fortunate that the Bila Haut wines are available at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, though you may have to order it in at your local store. It is also listed at Total Wine and More in Naples around $11 a little below the $13 suggested price. Bottom line, the 2014 Les Vignes de Bila Haut Red may not be for everyone, those who prefer a grounded and intense bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or a stylish Pinot Noir will likely find it lacking. However for those fond of Rhone blends based on Syrah and Grenache grapes you will find a lot to like in this wine and for those who desire a “dirtier” less fruity experience the added Carignan juice has provided a nice touch of earth and spice, try it and see how this wine fits as a gift to your palate this season and beyond.