Jeff Carrel is a freelance winemaker. He doesn't own vineyards or a winery. His overhead is essentially nil. He buys grapes from vineyards he respects, where careful attention has been paid to the soil and the fruit, and he borrows winery space and equipment to produce his wines. It's an unusual model in the wine business, but it works. The wines are impressive and generously priced.
Les Darons, which translates from the French to 'the fathers', is made with fruit from vines over 40 years old, thus the name. The older the vines, the deeper the roots have grown, seeking water and minerals from centuries, then millenniums old soil deposits. As a rule of thumb, the deeper the vine roots go, the more interesting and nuanced the wine. You could argue these vines have gained wisdom.
The Les Darons 2012 is a Languedoc blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Carignon and 15% Syrah from the vineyards of Chateau Arcades. The grapes were harvested by hand, destemmed and vinified in tank for roughly 10 days, then left to age on it's lees for another seven months, in tank. The result is a smooth, robust, pure fruit wine. It has just enough layers of interest to make the evening feel a little special, but priced for everyday consumption.
Velvety tannins and ripe dark berry fruit with a medium-long finish and reasonable alcohol made it a good companion while binge watching season two of House of Cards - so good!! Try it with pizza and burgers or lamb and white bean stew.
$14.99 at The Wine Seller in downtown Florence, AL.