Banyuls is a red sweet fortified wine grown in the Roussillon region of southern France bordering Spain. The four communes of Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbère have mountainous landscape with schist soils. Primarily made from Grenache Noir varietals, there are also small amounts of Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Banyuls is made in styles like Port, with fermentation stopped by adding neutral grape spirits such as a clear brandy.
Rimage is a Catalan word meaning "vintage". When a wine does not have any contact with oxygen and is bottled young, the character and fresh fruit flavors are preserved. This fresh vintage dated style of Banyuls is delicious. An oxidized or rancio style Banyuls are wines aged in small barrels that sit in the sun. These Banyuls often have flavors of prunes and figs. Banyuls Grand Cru means that the wine has been aged a minimum of thirty months in casks.
Presenting with a reddish color, aromas of cherries and black currants, tastes of plums and dried fruits often with coffee notes, chestnut and mocha, these are wines I like to pair with chocolate desserts. Below are three favorites of mine, all served with a combination of chocolate and cherries.
With a purple red color and nose of dark berry fruit, blackberry jam, dried cherries and mocha, Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage 2006, is made from 100% Black Grenache grapes grown in Collioure. With flavors of plums, blackberries, chocolate and dried herbs, it has a rich mouthfeel and long finish. It is a wonderful pairing with a Bittersweet Chocolate Tart, topped with a Chilled Cherry Sabayon. Made with 64% chocolate and baked in a vanilla bean shortcrust, this dessert is smooth, silky and has Banyuls incorporated into the sabayon.
M. Chapoutier Banyuls is also made from 100% Black Grenache. It presents with a garnet color, is medium bodied with a nose of dried cherries, mocha and tastes of black currant, prune and some caramel. It lingers in your mouth and has a lengthy finish. Try grilling a Morello Cherry Poundcake before serving with Chocolate Sorbet. The sorbet will ooze onto the plate and these flavors will have you asking for seconds in both food and wine!
Domaine Madeloc Banyuls Robert Pages presents with a reddish color and is made from Black Grenache, Grenache Gris and Carignan varietals. It has tastes of plum, dried fruits and vanilla along with coffee notes. It is velvety in the mouth and will pair with Black Forest Cake. Chocolate, cherries and whipped cream are the components in the dessert and is just about perfect for this Banyuls!