Counoise is a variety found in the Southern Rhône that beginning to rear its head in Australia.
I must confess that I had not thought about this variety for years until I tried the new release 2016 Cherubino Laissez Faire IV (AUD $29), a blend of syrah, grenache, mourvèdre and counoise.Counoise is one of the thirteen varieties allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The grapes are sourced from Cherubino’s Riversdale vineyard in Frankland River, Western Australia. The philosophy of the Laissez Faire wine range is ‘let it be’, with the winemaking hand used lightly.
Blend IV is a deeply coloured wine with assertive dark fruit and crushed green leaf, with a touch of liquorice and generous alcohol. It is concentrated and fleshy, with a warming rustic edge. But what makes it particularly different are the lashings of spice on the nose and palate.
This is where the counoise comes into play. It is a variety known for its pepperiness, along with its acidity.
It is one of the thirteen varieties allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Although it is a minor variety, relatively light in body and colour, it has a considerable impact. In the famous Château de Beaucastel, it represents about 10% of the blend.
Plantings are also found in the Languedoc and Provence, as well as the US where it is occasionally found as a straight varietal wine, such as produced by Tablas Creek Vineyard.
I have not seen counoise, nor mourvèdre for that matter, in the Laissez Faire wines before, which have been declared as syrah and grenache in the past. Though it’s certainly an interesting addition, making the 2016 Laissez Faire IV blend a great wine to throw into your next blind tasting.