The Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors 2016 is a blend of Syrah and old-vine Grenache farmed in estate vineyards in the Roussillon growing area of southeast France, just above the border with Spain. The Roussillon is the Catalonian district of France, to the south in Spain, the Catalonian area includes Barcelona and is the home of Cava Sparkling wine. The Bastide Miraflors (translates roughly to a country cottage with a view of flowers) is a project between Domaine Lafage and Eric Solomon of European Cellars imports. One trick to buying wine imported from Europe, or anywhere actually, is follow the Importer. If you like a certain wine of theirs in your price range there is an excellent chance you will enjoy other wines in their portfolio, since they tend to have a “house style“. This vintage of the Bastide Miraflors received 94 points in a leading wine publication and I found it, on sale, for $11.99.
The grapes are sourced from several vineyards, either near the coast of the Mediterranean or in the foothills of the Pyrenees, with the average age of the vines being 55 years old. The Syrah/Grenache blend is popularized by the Red wines of the southern Rhone Valley. This blend was fermented in stainless steel vats and was aged for 12 months. The Grenache in concrete vats and the Syrah in large oak barrels, roughly 2 1/2 times the size of typical Bordeaux barrels. Concrete vats are commonly used in the south of France and are starting to catch on in California. Syrah often sees oak aging, but Grenache often does not need it to shine. Domaine Lafage is practicing organic but is not certified organic. You see that a lot, it costs a small fortune and takes several years to be certified organic, but wine drinkers tend not to pay extra for organic wine. So they use organic techniques because it is right for the vineyards and skip the certification. Even though this is a fancy 94 point wine, it is a drink-it-now wine that is meant to be enjoyed in the next 2 or 3 years. The alcohol content is a rich 14.5%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is a dark, opaque black cherry red, more black than red. The nose is ripe dark berries, a whiff of smoke, a touch of spice, lightly herbal, with toasty vanilla. The mouthfeel is plush, the tannins give the wine a nice edge, and the flavors are booth rich and smooth and tart. It tastes of super-smooth cherry, black pepper, licorice, exotic spice, and soft plum. The mid-palate offers Dr. Pepper, tart cranberry, and ripe raspberry. The tannins have an edge to them but in a good way, they sort of sharpen the flavors. The acidity is balanced by the body of the wine, it lets the flavors unfold, but does not draw attention to itself. The finish mirrors the mid-palate and does last.
- 94 points? Yeah, I can see it. When they give out points for wines they aren’t grading purely on taste. The score is based on the vineyard, the winemaking techniques, the wine’s balance and structure, and also the flavor. If you are a casual wine drinker your #1 concern may well be “how does it taste”. The 94 point wine and your 87 points favorite wine may taste fairly similar. It is the details that make all the difference. That is why the point system for value-priced wines don’t have the same impact as it does for expensive wine.
- The Bastide Miraflors is an excellent Syrah/Grenache blend. The interplay between the plump, juicy Syrah and the sleek, intense Grenache make for a delicious Red blend.