Three French reds under $10: Montirius, Heretiques, Fenouillet

Everybody always wants a good wine under $10. And that’s never been more true than now. The sad thing is that it’s so hard to find good wines under $10. But here are three reds from the South of France!

montirius_lecadetMontirius, Le Cadet, vin de pays de Vaucluse, 2005 ($9.99; find this wine)
This blend of 50% Grenache – 30% Syrah – 20% Cinsault comes from a couple in the Southern Rhone who make their wines biodynamically. This particular cuvee is fermented in cement (!) tanks. When I met Christine and Eric Saurel, the owners and winemakers, a few years ago at a trade show, they told me that cement is more “alive” than stainless steel but doesn’t impart the flavors of oak. It is a great value with good acidity, fun dark berry notes, and tannic poise. I need to restock, probably by the case.

heretiquesLes Hérétiques, vin de pays de l’Hérault, 2007 ($9; find this wine)
Made from Carginan grapes, this wine hails from the Languedoc region. It has a whiff of that bretty barnyard thing, which some might find off-putting and others alluring. But on the palate there’s not much to argue with since the wine has good fruit and tannins. It’s not as smooth or rewarding as the Chateau d’Oupia, from the same producer, but this one would make a solid party wine. Importer: Louis/Dressner.

Domaine de Fenouillet, vin de pays de Vaucluse, 2007. ($9; find this wine)
Marcelan? Yeah, I hadn’t had that one either. But it’s the main grape in this wine, also from the Vaucluse like the Montirius. The wine is a little less structured more tannic than the other two so I would use this wine as “ballast,” i.e. when there are four of you and two bottles are already empty and you need to crack open a third bottle of something decent that’s not too expensive. Importer: Neal Rosenthal.

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7 Responses to “Three French reds under $10: Montirius, Heretiques, Fenouillet”

  1. Marcelan? Marcelan! Yesterday I saw it on a bottle and asked “where’s that?” Today another example pops up on your blog. Tomorrow – perhaps we’ll see it on Oprah? I guess desperate times call for obscure wines! My general assessment sounds similar to yours: none too shabby for the price.

  2. Hmmm, not sure the winemaker would take “ballast” as a compliment….an interesting tour of obscure VdPs – are these easy to find in NYC?

  3. @Christy, yes, desperate times generally do call for obscure grapes!

    @Joe yes perhaps not. But I liked it the least of these three. Unfortunately the Montirius does not appear to be easy to find (I recycled the bottle before I noted the importer); I bought this one at Appellation Wine & Spirits. The others I picked up at a one day, -15% off Languedoc wines from Astor (is the Vaucluse really considered part of Languedoc?).

  4. I’m particularly impressed by the thought put behind the label concept on Les Heretiques:

    “Les Heretiques commemorates the massacre of Minereve in 1208. Inhabited by members of the Cathari religious order, a pacifist Christian, non-conformist group that prospered during the Middle Ages, the destruction in Minereve was only one of the many Crusades led by the Roman Catholic Church, who, calling the Cathari “heretics,” persecuted them in town after town. The Cathars’ story, one of the unquenchable spirit of man, juxtaposed with the inhumanity of man, imparts new significance on Languedoc’s ruined towers and castles, some sitting high and seemingly inaccessible, on mountaintops.”

  5. I have been lauding Les Heretiques for years. It’s one of my favorite weekday wines and I always have plenty on hand. That “bretty barnyard thing” you mention is one of its allures! I can’t say enough about it. FYI, as far as availability in NYC I’ve also bought it at the Chelsea Wine Vault in the Chelsea Market.

  6. I was also a big fan of the Les Heretiques after drinking one bottle, and then stocking up on the ’05. Such an intense, interesting wine. Then I was disappointed by the ’06, which I found to be unexciting, with far less “oomph”.

    Tyler, how would you compare the ’07?

  7. @katie I’m glad you like the steenky nose too!

    @MrTaz – Unfortunately I don’t have a long history with the wine. But I believe the winemaker died after the 06 vintage. (Maybe the new generation will put this wine in a box?) I had the 06 Chateau D’Oupia and thought it was a great value, and more rewarding wine at $12. But I didn’t have the 06 Heretiques.


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