Château Viranel Arômes Sauvages
Chateau Viranel Aromes Sauvages has a very expressive nose with notes of ripe black fruits, pepper, thyme, fennel, pine nuts and just a touch of musk. Arômes Sauvages - wild aromas indeed! Despite the dark brooding colour, the palate is suave and well rounded with great depth of flavour. Not heavy, the tannins are ripe and unobtrusive. Notes of dark chocolate and mocha are abundant in the finish with hints of lead pencil and savoury spice.
- Country: France
- Region: Languedoc-Roussillon
- Subregion: Saint-Chinian
- Vintage: 2019
- Colour: Red
- Grape Variety: Alicante-Bouschet
- ABV: 14.5%
- Bottle Size: 75cl
- Closure: Natural cork
- Style: Dark and supple
- Drink With: Wild boar or rabbit
Château Viranel's Arômes Sauvages is made from a local grape variety - Alicante-Bouschet - a hybrid grape from the crossing of Grenache Noir and Petit Bouschet back in 1855. Having tasted this for the first time a few months ago, I struggle to see why the grape hasn't been planted far and wide! These vines are old, planted back in 1939, so harvest yields are small and of the highest quality. Château Viranel harvests by hand at perfect maturity, and traditional vinification takes place in concrete tanks.
The wild boar and the rabbit frolicking on the label are regular visitors to the vineyard, and their love of Alicante-Bouschet grapes means that already small yields are reduced even further.
From Jancis Robinson's Purple Pages:
100% Alicante Bouschet, planted in 1939, yields 28 hl/ha. Stainless steel and concrete tanks. Dark wild berries and lavender. White pepper. Distinctive and crunchy and packed with crackling texture. Layers of just-ground-dark-roasted coffee, juniper, pine resin and savoury plum. Lots of rugged character. Definitely a wine for rich game dishes or a rare very well-hung steak (no sauce, thrice-cooked chips, please). Drink 2015-2019. 16.5 Points (2013 vintage)
About the grower
Situated in the foothills of the Massif Central in Languedoc-Roussillon, Château Viranel lies at the heart of the Saint-Chinian appellation. One of the most influential features of the property that contributes to the incredible quality of wines is the unique microclimate. This, combined with the estate's chalky soils, gives ideal conditions for the cultivation of wine grapes. Overlooking the Valley of the Orb, the southern exposure of Château Viranel's vineyards ensures they receive the maximum amount of sunlight, allowing the grapes to ripen both steadily and completely.
Vinification at Château Viranel is really traditional - the family has been making wine here for several generations and the history of the property can be traced back to 1551 - yet they use one technique for the reds that we had not encountered before. It's called délèstages (rack and return): rather than just pumping the fermenting juice taken from the bottom of the tank over the top of the cap of grape solids, they empty the vat of all juice and then return all of the must over the cap. This has the effect of fully breaking up the cap instead of the wine gently finding the same old path back to the bottom of the vat, thus ensuring maximum extraction not only of colour but of soft tannins and wonderful flavours.
The white wines, too, are all little gems with the Viognier being a real feather in their cap. It retains great freshness, and aromatic intensity whilst managing to avoid being another example of the oily, overblown style so often encountered. All in all, the wines of Château Viranel are not only some of the finest of Saint-Chinian but of the entire Languedoc-Roussillon region. They offer exceptional value and we cannot recommend them highly enough.