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WA94 Blockbuster Red from 2017’s Breakthrough Producer: Chateau de L'Ou - 12/28/2017 - French Regional Wines

When we introduced Chateau de L'Ou’s “Secret de Schistes” earlier this year, it took off like gangbusters. With a 96-point rating and comparisons to Sine Qua Non, it’s easy to see why it was such a hit. Well, the masterminds behind this inspired bottling are at it again with their 2015 "Velours Noir.” With a profile that echoes the best of Hermitage, but costing under $25, we expect it will command much the same attention. Thanks for your direct import relationship, its price is 40% less than what you’ll find elsewhere. Which is all the more reason to love the wines of Chateau de L'Ou.

Inky, penetrating, powerful, yet with admirable restraint and balance, this 2015 left our team speechless. It’s not often that you find a wine that operates at this high a level for under $60, much less for under $25. While it is a delight to drink now, the "Velours Noir" is destined to have a very long and fruitful life ahead. We can’t stress enough, when a well respected critic like Jeb Dunnuck compares a $24.99 bottle to a top Hermitage, it’s an opportunity you’ll want to move on fast. If the “Secret de Schistes” is any indicator our stock of "Velours Noir" won’t be around for long.

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2015 Chateau de L'Ou "Velours Noir" Côtes Catalanes Rouge (Elsewhere $35) ($24.99)

94 points Jeb Dunnuck: "In the same qualitative ballpark, the 2015 Igp Côtes Catalanes Velours Noir (100% Syrah aged 15 months in new barrels) is another full-bodied, sexy wine that shows terrific purity of fruit, as well as classic Syrah notes of pepper, violets and dark fruits. It has a touch more freshness than the Infiniment de lOu cuvee, but both are terrific wines. Its certainly far from unapproachable today, but will keep for a decade or more. (JebDunnuck.com)" (08/2017)

94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Also inky purple colored, the 2015 IGP Côtes Catalanes Velours Noir is a blend of 100% Syrah that possesses more than a passing resemblance to a top Hermitage. It offers a cooler climate vibe in its fresh blackberry, violets, cracked pepper and crushed rock aromas and flavors. Fresh, full-bodied, concentrated and impeccably balanced, it too will keep for a decade or more. (JD)" (04/2017)

K&L Notes: Séverine Bourrier came to winemaking through her own passion for the subject, not having the family history associated with so many winemakers. She studied oenology in school and worked in Bordeaux for a decade. After meeting her husband, they relocated to a property an hour outside of Perpignan in the Roussillon. They began restoring an old château and did some replanting, rechristening the estate L’Ou, which is Catalan for "egg." The property is in an oval-shaped valley that was used as a rest area by herd animals and likely the Knights Templar on their way to various crusades. The estate consists of three primary terroirs: the alluvial marl soils that make up the valley, and two higher-elevation sites, one made up of black schist and the other brown. Their key grape variety is Syrah but Séverine also grows the classic regional varieties like Grenache and Carignan. For white grapes, they grow Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Muscat and of all things, Chardonnay, which is renowned for being one of the best in the region. The "Velours Noir" comes from the black schist high above the valley.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 29, 2017

This wine is big and lusty with mouth-filling deep dark fruit flavors. But it is more than that. The Velours Noir offers layers of flavors with the fruit balanced out with nice mineral notes and a sense of place. It will go well with hearty foods.

Staff ImageKeith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 25, 2017

Derived from 100% Syrah, this wine is aged in barrel and has a beautiful, dense texture. This is reminiscent of the great wines of the Northern Rhône, and you would be hard-pressed not to think of producers like Chapoutier or Guigal while drinking it.

Staff ImageJohn Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 20, 2017

Looking out over the well-cultivated vineyards to the not too distant snow-capped Pyrenees, one can wonder that the Roussillon is regarded one of the warmest and sunniest regions in France. The efforts of Severine Bourrier and her husband Philippe are a consummation of terroir, tenacity and talent, as they bring everything to the table in the creation of their remarkable wines. The Velours Noir gathers its fruit from black schist soils higher up in the estate, and possesses arresting aromas of blackberries, blackcurrants and dark cherries, with a rich,structured palate caressed by new oak, peppery spice and hints of wild mint. Sumptuous, ageworthy Syrah that could rival many from the Northern Rhone!

Staff ImageStephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 19, 2017

Look no further for you next grilled meat pairing! This 100% Languedoc Syrah shows beautiful dark fruits, mineral, black pepper and some subtle menthol character that is balanced with mid-palate tannic structure. Although this wine is aromatic and expressive now, don't hesitate to lay it down in the cellar.

Staff ImageAnthony Russo | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 19, 2017

I love Syrah when it is neither too gamey nor too thin. This one falls in the middle. The "Velours Noire" comes entirely from vines planted on the hillside on top of a black schist soil, which results in an incredibly velvety wine. The tannic profile is present, but not overwhelming, making this gorgeous bottle something to enjoy either now or a few years down the road. As for pairing, think roasted pork, duck, turkey, or BBQ lamb.

Staff ImageAndrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 14, 2017

It is never to early to start thinking of cool wines to drink as nights get longer and more and more dinners get planned. This 100% Syrah on Black Schist soil should definitely be one to keep in your back pocket. Blackberry and spice on the nose give way to a rather rich and bold wine. Dark berry and jam notes are intertwined with spice and minerality while classic syrah tannin coats the mouth and leads to a long finish. This is not a shy wine in all the best ways.