A Wine With a Story


Some wine labels come with deeper stories than Little Penguins or even Marilyn Merlot. I can’t say that fascinating tales make the wine taste any better … and yet knowing those tales somehow enhances my enjoyment.

Consider for example “Les Hérétiques,” the earthy, robust blend of Carignan and Syrah that we’re featuring today.

A heretic is a dissenter, an individual or group who disavows the established wisdom, particularly when it comes to the dogma of an established church.

Nowadays, only the most orthodox of any belief spend much time worrying about heresy. Surely a majority of 21st century humans, not excluding most mainline believers, are likely to embrace the definition with a joking smile as a way of saying that they’d rather not park their brain at the door.

In olden times, though, heresy was nothing to joke about, and therein lies the story behind the name of this week’s featured wine, the top-value Famille Iché 2010 “Les Hérétiques” – yes, “The Heretics” – a Vin de Pays (“wine of the country”) from the Hérault in France’s Languedoc-Rouissillon.

Briefly told, “Les Heretiques” takes its name from the Cathars, a peaceful but non-conformist Catholic sect that was wiped out by more orthodox opponents in a series of 13th century massacres including an army of Crusaders that momentarily diverted its attention from its goal in the Levant to wipe out a few thousand heretics.

The specifics of the Cathar heresy, which were rooted in definitional battles dating back to the Manicheans early in the Christian era, are all but lost to us eight centuries later. But memories in rural Rouissillon are long, and many Languedocians today still remember the persecution of the Cathars.

You’ll find my tasting notes below. Enjoy it, without fear of rack or fire or headsman’s axe.

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