I opened this bottle recently for some late-night drinking to go with chocolate. After all, the fortified (with alcohol added), port-like wines from the south of France such as Banyuls and Maury are the best match with chocolate. (An article where I tasted 7 wines with 9 chocolate preparations appears here in Polish, with an OK Google translation).
This Cuvée Parcé Frères 2007 from Domaine de la Rectorie was delicious. Deeply coloured with intense cherry fruit and balanced sweetness (there’s that famous ‘not cloying’ line that always shows up when describing a good sweet wine; well, this one is all but cloying). It also has fairly reasonable alcohol: one reason I prefer Banyuls to port is that the latter is usually 20% while Banyuls stays at 17%.
Domaine de la Rectorie is one of the most intellectually engaging estates in France. Whenever I taste here it becomes an hour-long discussion of the modern world’s relevant issues. Their website and occasional newsletter has some lovely photos and articles (see here, for example, for a discussion of négoce and why it’s worthwile), and the range of wines has a lot of food for thought: the Parcé brothers make Banyuls in a modern reductive vintage port-like style as well as the more classic oxidative one, and there’s even L’Oriental, a ‘Banyuls naturel’, unfortified and long-aged like two hundred years ago. The dry wines are equally impressive – as you’d expect them to be knowing the hard work that’s put into the vineyards, including organic farming and horse ploughing (and the soils here are tough). The Parcés run another estate in Maury, called La Préceptorie, with the same approach and some lovely wines too: the Zoé is perhaps my favourite everyday red in France, full stop.
This bottle of Banyuls reminded me how much we miss by not drinking these fortified wines more often. That style as a whole has become hopelessly unfashionable but it’s one more reason for wine aficionados to embrace it. These wines have lovely fruit, come from special places, and are really useful at the tables (not just for chocolate; some savoury dishes also work well). Banyuls is also rather cheap for what it is, so it’s a win–win drinking situation.
Source of wine: own purchase.