Wine Advocate #121 (Feb 1999)
1996 Chapoutier Banyuls
Banyuls, Vins Doux Naturels, Languedoc Roussillon, France
Michel Chapoutier has turned in some spectacular performances with limited production (around 4,000 500 ml bottles) Banyuls. This is a rich, chocolatey wine that smells like cappuccino infused with cherry liqueur. Rich and pure, but not the least bit heavy, it is good to see another top quality producer emerge from Banyuls, one of the most spectacular appellations in southern France.
Importer: Paterno Imports, Lake Bluff, IL; tel. (847) 604-8900
My suggestion would be to have a dinner party for 6-8 people and serve it with a chocolate dessert. Unlike most dessert wines, Banyuls is an excellent wine to pair with something like a flourless chocolate cake or something else along those lines. Heck, I'm jealous...I might try to beg a seat at that dinner if you choose to have one; the Chapoutier Banyuls is one heck of a nice wine.
Do you want info on the specific wine, or on Banyuls in general? Parker more or less describes the wine . . . so in the FWIW Dept.,
The appellation d'origine controllee for Banyuls was established in 1936, and for Banyuls Grands Crus in 1962.
The wine comes from four communes in the Côte Vemeille of the Roussillon: Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbère. The main grape variety is Grenache Noir -- a minimum of 50% for "regular" Banyuls and 75% minimum for Banyuls Grand Cru. Other permitted varieties include Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Maccabeu, Malvoisie and Muscat. Yields are limited to 30 HL/ha. The wine must age a minimum of 10 months prior to bottling for Banyuls, and 30 months for Banyuls Grands Crus.
Chocolate does indeed work. Much better than with, for example, Tawny Porto (IMHO).