Chances are if your bottle label has a picture of a wild boar on it, the wine is a French vin de pays, which is a "country" wine given recognition below the level of France's AOC designation. Can't get much more country than a pig, can you?
There are loads of different vin de pays classifications found throughout southern France, with Pays du Var being just one of them. Var is situated in Provence, at the southeastern edge of the country, and it just so happens to be a preferred home to the wild boar, or sanglier as it is named in French. Like the Syrah grape the wine is made from, the sanglier is a creature of the terroir -- especially the driest and most brambly vineyards. The various vin de pays designated around Mont Tauch -- a very arid region approaching the foothills of the Pyrenees at the opposite western end of the Midi -- also are branded with a snarling boar logo. So one little piggy, two little piggy... (The sanglier is the proud symbol of the Vignerons de Mont Tauch, a "cave co-operative"; the local legend of the 'Terror of Tuchan' has come to represent these winemakers' determination -- click image for more.)
These aren't your Miss Piggy wines.
Rustic, rough-hewn and rugged, many of the vin de pays I drink are great winter food wines. They emphasize matter over delicacy, meatiness over sophistication. But that's not to say that they can't be sophisticated wines. Domaine de Triennes "Les Auréliens" Vin de Pays du Var 1999 is one particular vin de pays that stands out from the crowd.
To the eye, the colour is bricky garnet. To the nose, an aroma of sweet and supple leather, no doubt enhanced by its advanced age.
This is a Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend, which I really admire. The spice and fruit of the Syrah -- lending lavender and ripe juicy fruit -- mixed with the tannic structure of Cabernet Sauvignon. What a duo. Les Auréliens is made in a style different from a Bordelais and it's really thrilling to get Cabernet presented this way. Tasting this wine totally inspires me to find more of this ideal, almost symbiotic, 50/50 mixture.
Spectacular with couscous and stewed leg of lamb. Also winning with a mushroom-veal marsala and roasted vegetables. This cuvée is making my mouth water just writing this down. Oink!
Nans-les-Pins, France. 13%.