Carthagène: The Hidden Gem of Languedoc

In Languedoc, a little-known viticultural treasure boasts remarkable sensory qualities: the Carthagène. This unique mistelle is well worth discovering without delay.

What is a Mistelle?

Officially classified as a special wine, mistelles are not the result of traditional alcoholic fermentation. They are born from blending grape must with grape-based alcohol, a process known as mutage. This technique prevents the sugars from being transformed into alcohol, thus creating a sweet wine. With an alcohol content between 15 and 22 percent by volume, Carthagène is a perfect example of this category.

Mistelles and Fortified Wines: A Fine Line

Mistelles are often confused with fortified wines, possibly due to the similarities in their production processes. Mistelles undergo very little fermentation (up to 1% vol. of acquired alcohol), while fortified wines may begin fermentation (with at least 4% vol. of naturally fermented alcohol). France boasts AOPs for fortified wines, such as Pineau des Charentes and Floc de Gascogne.

Carthagène from Domaine Viranel: A Unique Creation

In the heart of this tradition stands Domaine Viranel with its exceptional Carthagène. Made from Alicante Bouschet grape must (vines planted in 1939), it is fortified with aged grape-based alcohol from Languedoc oak barrels. Stirred manually each day for three weeks, then aged in oak using the solera system started in 1990, this method ensures a consistent quality for this non-vintage Carthagène, making each sip a testament to the domain's history and craftsmanship.

The Diversity of Languedoc Carthagène

Languedoc's Carthagène comes in a variety of expressions. Depending on the grape varieties used, such as Grenache or Roussanne, it can exhibit colors ranging from golden to ruby red or amber. The quality of the alcohol used for fortification is crucial, and an aged Marc from Languedoc is often recommended. Its aging, whether in bottle, oak barrels, or glass demijohns, also influences its taste characteristics.

Inspiring Food and Wine Pairings

Carthagène leads to creative culinary and wine pairings, whether as an aperitif or at the end of a meal. It pairs perfectly with varied dishes such as honeyed goat cheese spring rolls, caramelized chicken skewers, or even dark chocolate.

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