General List Gem - The Classic
Marius Rouge Pays d’Oc 2015
A few of you have asked about the LCBO’s General List wines and I’ve been stumped. I don’t usually shop there, so I’m not really sure what they have let alone if it’s any good.
But those days are over.
It’s totally ridiculous to only shop in Vintages when a cursory look through the General List reveals at least a handful of wines I’d happily sip (and some that were pricier than I expected, for real). Yes, Vintages offers better wines, usually, but it can get expensive and intimidating and hard to track down. I get it.
So I’m resolved to drink my way through (at least some of) the GL searching for treasure. Come along for the journey, why don’t you?
First up is this dapper gent from the South of France, a classic blend of Syrah and Grenache. The cute package isn’t all it has has going for it: it’s actually made by an iconic wine house led by legendary winemaker Michel Chapoutier. The house, Chapoutier, is famous for making excellent expressions of Rhone wines from all sub-regions in all price points (plus a few from Australia, the US, and Portugal). Their higher-end wines are much lauded (and exclusive), but they treat all of their bottlings with care, from biodynamic winemaking practices to braille labels. Pretty amazing, right?
Basically, if you see a wine labelled Chapoutier, buy it and stop asking questions.
Marius is their entry-level range from the Languedoc-Roussillon region and named for Michel’s grandfather. A few years ago the LCBO brought in the Marius rosé, and it was fantastic. Apparently they make a few whites and a 100% Grenache as well and I would really love to try those as well (are you listening, LCBO buyers?).
Marius might be entry-level but it’s still made in the Chapoutier style. (That is, delicious.) They put a lot of consideration into the grapes, the vineyard, and the winemaking – the website says it was barrelled without added sulphur (although some must have been added at bottling for this to make it into the LCBO). And it’s good. Very good.
It's also cheap.
I mean, for $13 I was not expecting so much complexity. (I probably shouldn't be so surprised considering its parentage.) It’s not quite as balanced as I would like, but that doesn’t really matter much when this bottle is meant to be chilled (they recommend 10-12°C) and enjoyed without too much deep thought. If you’re looking for an intro to the wines of Southern France, this is a great place to start. If you’re already a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re just looking for an inexpensive red wine that offers great value for your money, run to the LCBO before I buy up the whole stock.
I’m not even joking.
Nose: Strawberries, cherries, and black currants, Herbes de Provence, flowers and black licorice – surprisingly complex.
Palate: Very, very tasty. It’s juicy and plummy and berry-y (yes, that’s a thing), with flowers, herbs, and pepper linked by a delicious strawberry note. There are some plush tannins, but they wine feels light because it’s also got some great acidity. It’s really just very drinkable and really delightful. Give it a little air (it was better on day two), a bit of a chill (although not mandatory), and enjoy whenever and wherever you like as much as you like.