Banyuls is a fortified, sweet red from the Roussillon in southern France. With its summer pudding and mocha flavours (not to mention dried herbs, prune and caramel) this wine marries well with blue cheese, chocolate desserts and even with classic French savoury dishes such as rabbit, hare or venison braised with a dark chocolate sauce. Best chilled.
Grenache is widely planted red variety that produces supple, juicy, full bodied wines with high alcohol, low acidity and soft tannins. Grenache has pronounced strawberry, raspberry and spicy white pepper character. In the Roussillon in the South of France sweet reds are often made from Grenache which when ripe is naturally high in sugars. Fermentation is often stopped with the addition of grape alcohol (fortified) leaving lots of residual sugar (sweetness) in the wine. These reds are often very concentrated with lush red fruit and spice character.
The vineyards of Domaine de Valcros are situated at Collioure, a picturesque fishing village on the Mediterranean coast and part of France’s southern-most AOC. The vineyard was established in 1800 and acquired by Cazes in 2012. Collioure is considered to have some of the finest wines in the south of France, an unsurprising fact when you realise that its yields are some of the lowest in France. The soils are a schist, on very steep terraces and rolling hills, totaling 90 hectares. The estate works with biodynamic viticulture, aiming for natural balance through biodiversity and minimal intervention.
Banyuls is a French (AOC) for a fortified dessert wine made from old vines cultivated in terraces on the slopes of the Catalan Pyrenees in the Roussillon The production process, known in France as mutage, is similar to that used to make Port. Alcohol is added to the must to halt fermentation while sugar levels are still high, preserving the natural sweetness of the grape. The wines are then matured in oak barrels, or outside in glass bottles exposed to the sun, allowing the wine to maderise. The maturation period is a minimum of ten months for Banyuls AOC. The resulting wine bears a similarity to port but tends to be lower in alcohol. Most wines are red, although some white wines are produced. Permitted grape varieties are Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and Carignan.
Sweet Red wines like Maury and Banyuls are the best wines to pair with rich chocolate desserts. Like Ports these styles can also work well with blue cheeses.