This 2014 Chapoutier Bila Haut “Occultum Lapidem”(meaning ‘Hidden Gem’ in Latin) is just too good to be true. Some cconsumers may cast doubt on some of the following: it has been ranked too high by Parker et al; the WA score(RP92-RP95) is too high; it’s a wine from South France; it’s got to be too alcoholic and just too big; it’s got to be another fruit bomb from the ocean of everyday wine; it will cause headache.
To Team, these are over-worries. This wine is organic(yes too dry for the bugs) and made a la style Chapoutier biodynamic, so there is little 'chemical' effects. The alcohol is just classic 14.5%, and you almost won’t feel it because of its nice balance from the acidities and ample fruit. From experience of Team, we don't feel anyheache after drinking a bit of the wine.
Made from old vines of over 70 years old, this wine is from the oldest vineyard of the region and has always been an elegant statement of the terroir. This wine is vinified with blends of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% carignan in cement vats then later transfers it to mature half in cement tanks and half in 600-liter wooden “demi-muids.” This process gives the wine a “refined oak signature', preserving Bila-Haut’s sense of place. It is then 50% aged in tank and 50% aged in old oak casks, so as not to over oak the taste.
Complexities intended with vinification and blending strategies aside, there may also complexities by soil and environment. First, the soil is composed of sea salt and fine schist, gneiss, quartz and limestone. Also, the Agley River runs from the Pyrénées Mountains in the west to the Mediterranean Sea in the east, its cold water serving to temper the summer heat. Winds blow incessantly from three mountain ranges that rim the region, creating an “amphitheater effect” over most of Roussillon. The winds carry their own “ingredients” and deposit them in the vineyards
Yes, it is still a fruit bomb (dark cherries, black currants). With 3 years of ageing, it has some bottle complexitites. It is also well-balanced by full nose of flowers (lavender), herbs (sage) and other complexities (pencil shaving, smoke and leather aromas and dark chocolates).Tannins and earthiness are balanced by the juicy dark fruit. It is an elegant statement, which is never over powering, and builds on layers of subtle tastes.
Are we writing too much on low-cost-high-score wine? Probably we are, but we will stand by what we have written. Any food with rich sauce, slow cooked items.