Roussillon is an unknown region for most wine consumers, but this area in southwestern France produces delightful, inexpensive everyday wines like the 2010 Domaine Lafage Cote Est white wine. 

To the east, Roussillon borders the Mediterranean coast, which provides cooling breezes and clay and chalky soil for the vines. To the south are the Pyrenees and neighboring Spain, which gives Roussillon its Catalan culture. It’s the driest and sunniest part of France, so Roussillon is more familiar to tourist than wine consumers, yet its wine history is long.

Ironically, Roussillon’s wines improved when its vineyards were destroyed. During the 19th century, phylloxera ravaged the vineyards in France, but Roussillon’s and others were restored by planting disease-resistent rootstock from America. The replanting gave owners the opportunity to restructure their vineyards, creating the birth of Roussillon’s modern viticulture.

Jean-Marc and Eliane Lafage, who created Domaine Lafage, are trained enologist who worked at Gallo in California and various wineries in Australia, South Africa and Chile. In 1996, they bought an existing vineyard and then, with youthful energy and a mature vision, changed everything about it.

The 2010 Domaine Lafage Cote Est is classified as a Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes. Vin de Pays is a French wine classification that used to expose consumers to many inferior wines. That is no longer true. Today the Vins de Pays designation offers many well-made wines like the 2010 Domaine Lafage Cote Est.

The wine is made from a blend of 60 percent grenache blanc, 30 percent chardonnay and 10 marsanne. It is fermented and aged for three months in temperature-controlled stainless tanks and then bottled. Its lime and cilantro-like aroma and guava-flavored fruit are very appealing. The finish has a citrus acidity and sea salt taste that is refreshing. This wine is surprisingly complex for a Vins de Pays and shows what talent winemakers can do with an everyday wine.

The 2010 Domaine Lafage Cote Est will compliment Catalan dishes like cod with onions; grilled bread with garlic, olive oil and diced tomatoes; and grilled chicken with ratatouille. Its very reasonable price tells you that it pays to buy this Vin de Pays.

The 2010 Domaine Lafage Cote Est retails for approximately $11.