Chic and affordable

Roussillon wines may come from any of the region’s several AOCs ((Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée ). Many of the modern dry style wines are labeled Côtes du Roussillon or Côtes du Roussillon-Villages. When you see “Vins du Pays des Côtes Catalanes,” it usually means the winemaker has defied AOC blending requirements, as in the 100% Carignane below. Most of these selections come from three import companies dedicated to the region’s wines: Eric Solomon, Vinalia and Weygandt-Metzler. Wines are listed in alphabetical order.

2004 Calvet-Thunevin Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes “Cuvée Constance.” Aged in concrete tanks and never seeing wood, this blend of Grenache and Syrah with a touch of Carignane leads with a delicate nose of plum blossoms and brown sugar with hints of olives and herbs. Its flavors are deep black cherry, with lovely gripping black tannins. Honest wine for a great price. About $15 at Wine House in Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731,; and K & L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463,

2005 Clos des Fées Côtes du Roussillon “Les Sorcières.” A lovely, inexpensive blend of Carignane, Grenache, and Mourvèdre with plenty of succulent ripe fruit that neither strays nor loses its balance. The Carignane stands out in the seductively plummy scent and black cherry flavors, supported by a fine, mineral texture. About $18 at Wine House.

2003 Clos des Fées Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Vieilles Vignes. This wine has considerably more stuffing than the same producer’s “Les Sorcières.” A briary aroma is overlaid with scents of anise and mint. Flavors are succulent, dark plum and black cherry with a mineral texture almost like granite dust, but plenty of juiciness on the finish. But the finish goes on and on. It’s an earthy wine, generous and complex. About $30 at Wine House.

2001 Domaine Ferrer Ribière Côtes du Roussillon “Selenae.” A higher-end bottling blended from the same Carignane as the “Empreinte du Temps” with additions of Syrah and Grenache; it sees quite a bit more oak aging, in neutral barrels. It’s a big meaty wine with a bit of smoked beef in its aroma. But on the palate, that juicy, plummy Carignane shows through, with fine-grained tannins and an elegant polished texture. About $35 at Woodland Hills Wine Woodland Hills, (818) 222-1111,

2003 Domaine Ferrer Ribière Vin du Pays des Côtes Catalanes “Empreinte du Temps.” Made with fruit from 126 year-old Carignane vines, this beautiful wine is grounded with scents of olive tapenade and tar against bright cherry. On the palate it seems as if you can really taste the vine age: A firm texture supports flavors of red plum and herbs. It’s complex, with a long finish -- and a bargain for a wine so stylish. About $18 at Wine House and Woodland Hills Wine Co.

2005 Domaine Gardiès Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Vieilles Vignes. Dark and figgy, with a beautiful scent of dried wild herbs and olives, this concentrated wine tastes like black figs and plums in compote. An intensely mineral texture and mouth-coating tannins give the wine a low center of gravity. Still young, it should age admirably. About $20 at Wine Exchange in Orange, (714) 974-1454,; Wine House and Woodland Hills Wine Co.

2003 Domaine Gauby Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Vieilles Vignes. An exotic wine showing the best of the region in a stylish package. Aromas of sassafras and Arabica coffee complement a wild-herb top note of olive and pink peppercorn. The raspberry fruit flavors are admirably restrained, with a crisp texture that gives the wine elegance. About $32 at Woodland Hills Wine Co. and Wine House.

2004 Domaine Le Roc des Anges Côtes du Roussillon-Villages “Les Vieilles Vignes.” A straight-ahead red from a small domaine near Calce, this is a blend of about half old-vine Carignane and the balance of Grenache and Syrah. Despite aromas of smoke and violets that hint at the Syrah in the blend, the Carignane does much of the work here: The palate is marked by succulent red cherry, with a firm and silky texture. About $20 at K & L Wine Merchants.

2003 Domaine Olivier Pithon Côtes du Roussillon “Saturne.” A deeply scented blend of Carignane and Grenache, with a touch of Syrah, this wine leads with notes of licorice root in its herbal bouquet, adding complexity to its black raspberry scents. The texture bears a mineral core that is quite fine-grained, with notes of dark spices. About $30 at K & L Wine Merchants and Wally’s Wines & Spirits in Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606.

2005 Mas de La Devèze Côtes du Roussillon-Villages “66.” Fresh, bright and sappy, this mostly Grenache bottling has a minty top note with bright, expressive fruit, plainly in the red spectrum. Its texture is sprightly and fresh with a good dusting of tannin and a long, mildly herbal finish. About $16 at Colorado Wine Co. in Eagle Rock, (323) 478-1985,; and at Silverlake Wine in Los Angeles, (323) 662-9024,

2004 Mas de La Devèze Côtes du Roussillon-Villages. Olivier Bernstein’s estate blend of old-vine Grenache and Syrah has an aroma of fruit-soaked leather, with a hint of tar. Its fruit flavors are all about dark fig and cassis, accented by a twiggy, sassafras flavor. Firm, gripping tannins mark the texture, giving the wine impressive length. About $27 at Mission Wines, Pasadena, (626) 797-0500,; and Wine Exchange.

-- Patrick Comiskey

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