Blame it on a daydream of a Southern grass-fed, dry-aged rib eye sizzling in the pan with shallots and garlic as a big fleshy red wine breathes on the sideboard that came into his mind as he searched for this week's recommendation. That's when his attention focused, laserlike, on the 2010 Domaine de Bila-Haut "Occultum Lapidem" from the house of M. Chapoutier. Expect to pay about $25 at big-box stores and wine shops and to be very happy with your purchase.
This near miraculous blend of syrah, grenache and carignan grapes grown in the stony soils (we parse occultum lapidem as something like hidden stone) of the Cotes du Roussillon Villages Latour de France region features a dark and mysterious palate and a compelling complexity from start to finish.
In the glass it is a seductive deep dark garnet red. On the nose it offers a sensual blend of blackberry, leather, black pepper and bramble. It blossoms on the tongue with a beautifully balanced melange of blackberry, black cherry, black currant and black pepper, all in a wine of admirably dense body. It finishes long, gorgeous and silky.
This is a wine you definitely want to uncork at least a half-hour before serving, although an hour would be even better.
And one last note of interest: This wine's label adds Braille to the usual ink on paper. Nice.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.