I like my chili, and other types of Southwestern fare, with a good dose of spicy (though not overpowering) heat. But that same heat is a tough companion for wine. So I’m always on the hunt for wines that can be good fits for savory and spicy cuisines.
On a cold winter night, I dived into my larder to help warm me up. Making chili takes on industrial proportions in the Marcus household, so a fair amount went into the freezer for future portions. Rummaging through my cellar, I found a Languedoc red that was just the ticket for that night’s meal.
The Cuvée des Cigales from Mas des Brunes comes from the Côtes de Thongue, north of the city of Béziers. Though it has a vin de pays designation, this quiet vineyard area is one of the quality centers of southern France’s vast Languedoc region. Mas des Brunes winery, located in Magalas, is a small family operation run by Claude and Isabelle Bertrand, who both have day jobs in the same village.
Cuvée des Cigales is a blend of 55 percent Syrah, 35 percent Grenache and 10 percent Carignane; the Syrah comes from an old-vine plot with extremely low yields. The 2007 is firm and muscular, with pepper, spice and dried red fruit flavors—and plenty of meaty notes as well. Its warm allure was just the match for my hot dish of chili; I rated it 89 points, non-blind, and it cost $19.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Mas des Brunes Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue Cuvée des Cigales 2007 (89, $18).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated reds from the Languedoc.