Hailing from the region around the town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert in France's Pays d'Oc, Saute Rocher Rouge is a fascinating blend of Marselan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Never heard of Marselan? You're not alone - this cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache is relatively new to the scene. First bred in 1961, it's highly disease resistant, but was never thought to be commercially viable thanks to its small berries and low yields. Fashions change, however, and modern winemakers who prize the flavour intensity that comes with smaller-berried grapes have begun taking Marselan more seriously. Even Bordeaux traditionalists have allowed for small plantings, believing it might hold the key to maintaining the region's quality and style in a changing climate.
The name Saute Rocher is a slang term for the residents of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, an isolated, medieval village situated in a narrow valley of the Hérault river. It translates to "rock jumper," and given the surrounding terrain, it's appropriate! The stoney soils of the region, along with relatively hot, dry climate, make it a perfect region for producing robust, full-bodied reds. Enjoy this wine now or over the next 3-5 years at about 18 C.
The nose of this wine is as deep and dark as the colour, with plenty of black plum, blackberry, and roasted figs. There's herbs and spices in abundance as well, with rosemary, thyme, and fresh-cracked black pepper, followed by a hint of cocoa powder. It's brooding and intense, perfect for cold weather!
Marselan brings plenty of weight and body to the blend, with grippy tannins and loads of dark fruit flavours that marry perfectly with Cabernet Sauvignon's cassis and Syrah's peppery spice. This is a bold red that benefits from some air, so don't be afraid to decant for a bit before enjoying, or serve it alongside a fuller-flavoured meal.
A cold-weather classic like hearty beef and vegetable stew would be a perfect pairing for this robust red, or try it with red lentil Dahl.