From nearly hundred-year-old Carignan vines, Jean-Marie Rimbert makes some of the lightest and most engaging red wine for under $20 from the Languedoc region of France. His reds, especially his Les Travers de Marceau, look nearly Beaujolais-like in the glass. And like the best of Beaujolais, his wines are firmly structured and just a notch funky, making a perfect choice for a summery, but not too simple, red. Jean-Marie grew up in Provence and bought his first tiny parcel of land in the village of Berlou nearly 25 years ago. Berlou is the highest village in the Languedoc-Rousillon appellation of Saint-Chinian. It also happens to be widely planted with hillside Carignan that is, in some places, over 100 years old. Greater vine age typically imparts a greater intensity of fruit, leading to more fragrant and more complex wines. In the case of Domaine Rimbert, Jean-Marie seems to play against the obvious. The intensity shows up in the form of structure, minerality, a sort of textural richness. Not, however, in the form of dark fruit or heavy tannins.
And just when you think you've got a handle on what he's doing up there, then comes the rosé. It's basically just the opposite. Deep apple-skin red in color, sweaty on the nose, firm tannins nearly like a red... A great answer to that summertime question: Hm, red or rosé?
Domaine Rimbert "Les Travers de Marceau" Saint-Chinian — $15 (Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault)
Domaine Rimbert "Petit Cochon Bronzé" — $13 (Cinsault, Syrah)