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Wine Reviews: Review of Chateau Gibalaux Bonnet Minervois
by: Vino Joe (e-mail

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The Rodney Dangerfield of Wine: Minervois

Minervois (min-er-VWAH) is a winegrowing area in the western Languedoc, a region in the south of France. The archaeologists tell us that that the Romans brought vines to this area, a theory supported by historians who have cited writings of Cicero. Wino-ists such as myself will tell you that good cheap wine comes out of this area. 

For many years, Minervois wine quality was good, but the area was something akin to the Rodney Dangerfield of southern France -- no respect. However, in 1985, the French wine authority -- the AOC -- granted Minervois an appellation. This meant a new beginning for the region, as strict regulations were immediately imposed on the vineyards and winemaking techniques (not to mention instant credibility). The result is dramatic: Good quality wines are being found at very affordable prices. 

The major grapes grown are Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre; the same grapes are commonly found in Rhone wines. This knowledge may not help you choose a Minervois wine, but at least you now know more than most of your friends. 

From Minervois you should not expect an over-the-top, oaky vanilla, over-extracted, overpriced wine. Instead, you will get a "bistro" wine: something you'd order with a simple "steak frites" at a mom-and-pop cafe on a dusty country road in France. (I also like to refer to such a bottle as a "blue collar" wine, because it does a good job, has no pretension and gives a lot of bang for the buck.) 

One good example is Chateau Gibalaux Bonnet Minervois. Yes, the name is a mouthful to pronounce, so print out this page and bring it to your favorite retailer. The nose of this wine is open, with clean, ripe blackberry and black cherry aromas prominent, along with hints of cassis, black pepper and a medicinal element (band aids?). This wine is unfiltered (it will look cloudy), so some rough, earthy aromas also come through -- yet in the mouth it is surprisingly soft. The same berry and cherry flavors are most obvious, as are touches of earth, and are tamed by a nice edge of acidity. A dry finish of medium tannins and dusty fruit offer "rustic" appeal. 

This wine is exactly what it should be: an easygoing "bistro" wine with sufficient structure to match perfectly with burgers, mac and cheese and similarly simple "peasant fare." Those of you who have enjoyed Cotes-du-Rhones but are frustrated by their rising prices, save a few dollars and give this wine a try. At less than eight bucks a bottle, it's a great value and an everyday wine recommendation.

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For even more info on wine, visit our Vices Web Guide!




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