I was 19 the last time I visited Southern France. A kid really, and not an especially world-weary one. I did hop some trains and I struck up conversations with fellow travelers and I read Herman Hesse and tried my best to live in the moment. But in my haste and ignorance I missed out completely on the living history of viticulture that is so rich in that part of the world. I didn't care or know anything about wine. And looking back, it seems prodigal. Today the wines and the culture of Southwest France have become a sort of fascination, and I long to go again knowing now what I did not know then. When I do (hopefully sooner rather than later), I'll be stopping by Château d'Oupia. For me, no other property in the region better embodies all that is great about the wines of the Southwest. It's located in the hillside AOC of Minervois, at the heart of one of the most rapidly improving wine regions in the world.
It's family run, small. The castle is four hundred years old. The man who inherited the land and founded the Oupia estate, André Iché, died in 2007. His daughter Marie-Pierre now runs the winery and Laurent Batlle makes the wines in "Andre's way" as he has since 2008. It's this dedication to the vision that makes these wines so special.
Their combination of quality and price has always left me scratching my head wondering, "How do they do it?" But after a while, and after a few glasses of their Minervois, I find myself relenting to the appeal of the wine and simply accepting the experience as truth. Then I find my mind wandering again to those ancient hillsides and planning my next voyage, this time, hopefully, all the wiser.
Free Tasting Saturday, June 15 | 3-5pm The Wines
Château d'Oupia Les Hérétiques (Carignan) — $10 Château d'Oupia Minervois (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache) — $14 Château d'Oupia Minervois rosé (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault) — $14