Out of the Box – Young Importers Tasting -
Prices for this tasting are per bottle, duty paid and delivered, ex VAT
The Young Importers are a group of six with an eclectic and original range of wines. Naturally I concentrated on Languedoc-Roussillon but I did allow myself several deviations, especially to Greece with Maltby and Greek, as a good Assyrtiko is difficult to resist.
Carte Blanche has recently taken on the agency for my good friend Catherine Roque at Mas d’Alezon in Faugères.
2017 Faugères Presbytère - £13.95
A blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Medium colour. Elegant subtle fruit on the nose, and on the palate, supple spice, with an elegant streak of tannin. Medium weight.
2017 Faugères, Montfalette - £17.95
A blend of Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache Noir. Medium colour. Altogether much more structured, on both nose and palate, with firm fruit and tannins, but always with an elegant finish. Nicely satisfying. Drinking well now, but would also age.
Swig were showing:
2015, Château de Durfort, Corbières - £9.65
a blend of Syrah and Grenache Noir. Medium depth of colour. A lovely ripe, rounded, spicy nose. And plenty of spice on the palate, balanced with a backbone of tannin. Eminently easy-drinking, conjuring up the warmth of the Midi in a glass.
2018 Domaine de l’Horizon, Côtes Catalanes, Mar y Muntanya - £14.30
A blend of 45% each of Grenache Noir and Carignan with 10% Grenache Noir. Appealing spice on the nose with fresh red fruit on the palate. Medium weight and an elegant finish.
This company was started up as recently as March 2019.
2017 Domaine des Enfants, Côtes Catalanes, Tabula Rasa - £15.63
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Macabeo and Carignan blanc. This is a stunning example of just how much the white wines of Roussillon have improved, with a light colour, quite a closed nose and on the palate some elegant floral fruit and a satisfying balance of acidity.
2017 Domaine des Enfants, le Jouet - £10.39
A blend of Lledoner Pelut, Grenache Noir, Carignan and Syrah. Medium colour. Quite a ripe nose, and on the palate good fruit, but I also thought I detected a note of volatility.
2016 Faugères, Domaine Binet-Jacquet, Réserve - £15.26
A blend of all five grape varieties of the appellation, namely Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre. Good colour; quite a firm nose, tight knit and needing to breathe. And on the palate a touch reductive, but quite intriguing.
Ellis of Richmond hosted a tasting that they termed Wines with a Conscience, showing wines that were Biodynamic, Organic or Sustainable.
The sole organic wines from the Languedoc came from Domaine des Trinités, made by Simon Coulshaw, who learnt his winemaking at Plumpton in East Sussex. He has vineyards in two appellations
2016 Pézenas, le Pech Mégé - £9.95
A blend of 60% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah and 10% Carignan. The label says: élaboré de façon naturelle – in other words, with minimum use of sulphur. Medium colour, with rich spice on both the nose and palate, but with a slight edge of acidity on the finish.
2015 Faugères, le Portail - £9.95
A blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache Noir and 10% Carignan, Nicely rounded nose and palate, with some appealing ripe fruit. A balancing streak of tannin. It tasted more harmonious than the Pézenas, and was drinking beautifully.
There was also a sustainable wine from Château Pennautier, the main property of the Lorgeril family, in Cabardès, one of the cooler areas of the Languedoc.
Marquis de Pennautier, Chardonnay, Pays d’Oc - £10.25
Lightly buttery nose, and rounded, rich and leesy on the palate with good mouthfeel and texture.
Waitrose, at their autumn tasting, had a few Languedoc offerings:
2018 Calmel & Joseph Villa Blanche Pinot Noir, Pays d’Oc - £8.99
Quite alight colour. Delicate fresh raspberry fruit on the nose and palate. Some balancing fresh acidity. Very refreshing, served slightly chilled.
2017 Corbières, Château de Caraguilhes - £0.99
A blend of 45% Grenache noir, 30% Syrah and 25% Carignan. One of the several organic estates of the Corbières. Aged n concrete vat for six months.
Medium colour; lightly spicy nose, and palate. Nicely harmonious, with a dry leathery note on the finish.
2018 Château Maris, Minervois, Savoir Vieillir - £16.99
70% Syrah balanced by 30% Grenache Noir. The wine was aged in 50 hectolitres foudres or in concrete tanks. Quite a deep colour, with a firm dry nose. More fleshy on the palate, with some ripe cherry fruit. Quite savoury. A tad alcoholic on the finish, and it does register 14.5º.
2016 Château Maris, Minervois la Livinière, les Planels - £17.99
Deep colour. Firm peppery nose and palate, with notes of tapenade and black olive. Quite firm and structured, youthful and tight knit. A wine to age, with promising potential.
2018 Voyage du Sud, Vermentino, Pays d’Oc - £5.99
From the Cebazan cooperative in St. Chinian. Fresh sappy nose and palate; fresh and pithy with a rounded finish. Good value.
Calmel & Joseph, Villa Blanche Terret Blanc, Pays d’Oc - £8.49
Light colour. Quite firm and stony on the nose and palate. Firm rather than crisp, with a flinty nose. This is one of the old grape varieties of the Languedoc, which deserves a revival in its reputation.
2018 Laurent Miquel Vendanges Nocturnes, Pays d’Oc, Viognier - £9.39
Rounded and peachy on nose and palate. Exuding ripe fruit. If you like Viognier, you will love this.
NV Crémant de Limoux, Cuvée Royale Brut - £11.99
A blend of 60% Chardonnay, 25% Chenin Blanc, 10% Mauzac and 5% Pinot Noir. Quite ripe and soft on the nose, with a soft fruity palate. Easy drinking, but a little too simple for the appellation. I would have liked more depth.
This is quite a large group of independent wine merchants who work together, to benefit from the economies of scales for marketing and purchasing.
Paul Gordon from Domaine la Sarabande in Faugères was there, providing a good opportunity for a catch up on his range.
2018 Pink Swine, Vin de France - £12.99
A rosé from Grenache and Cinsault, and just 11.5º. Medium colour; quite fresh and crisp with some raspberry fruit.
2016 Misterioso - £12.99
A blend of Grenache Noir and Syrah. Quite rounded on the nose and palate. Some fresh spicy fruit. Medium weight with a fresh finish.
2014 les Rabasses - £14.99
Syrah and Mourvèdre. Good colour. Fruity nose, with some leathery notes. Very good spicy fruit on the palate. Rounded and drinking beautifully, with a little bottle age.
2016 Les Rabasses
Les Rabasses is the name of the vineyard. It means land that is difficult to work. Good deep colour. More elegant on the nose and palate than the 2014, with some elegant spice balanced with quite obvious tannins. Medium weight.
2017 Bousigue - £24.99
A high proportion of Mourvèdre. Whole bunches, with no destemming. Medium colour. Quite firm and structured. Good fruit. Elegantly structure, with satisfying length and depth.
2016 Les Espinasses - £32.99
Based on Syrah. Whole bunches. Natural yeast. Deep colour. Quite concentrated peppery notes on the nose. Intense fruit on the palate. Some gamey notes. The fruit is balanced by some fresh acidity as well as tannin. Very satisfying.
And the tasting finished with Las Jardins, the name of the vineyard, based on Grenache, aged in barrel. Some lovely spice, with a touch of liquorice and a fresh finish, with elegant cherry notes. This is a new cuvée made from very ripe Grenache.
And I also tasted the wines of Domaine les Caizergues, an estate in the Terrasses du Larzac, outside the village of Brissac, near Ganges, that was bought by an English couple a year or two ago. Pat Middleton was there to show their wine. Their first vintage was 2017. Ganges was known for its silk production, and so the names of the various cuvées at Caizergues have a link with the silk industry.
Les Tisserands were the weavers; les Magnerelles were the people who raised the silk worms and amorier is the Occitan for mulberry trees.
2018 Les Tisserands blanc, IGP St Guilhem-le-Désert - £11.99
A blend of 80% Viognier to 20% Sauvignon. Rounded and peachy with a note of ginger. Refreshing, without any oak
2018 Les Magnarelles, Languedoc blanc - £15.99
A blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, and 20% each of Marsanne and Vermentino. Fresh dry nose, and on the palate quite firm fruit, with some white blossom and good balancing acidity.
2018 Les Magnarelles Languedoc Rosé - £11.99A blend of Grenache Noir and Carignan. Pressed. Light colour with some dry, rounded fruit on both nose and palate. Nicely refreshing with good acidity.
2018 Les Magnarelles Rouge, Languedoc Rouge - £15.99
Quite a vivid young colour. Ripe smoky fruit on the nose, with some tannin and ripe confit fruit on the palate.
2016 les Tisserands IGP - £11.50
Quite firm and structured on the nose, with quite a lean edge on the palate.
2015 Les Amoriers, Terrasses du Larzac - £16.50
Quite a solid, structured mouthful of dry oak and fruit. These last wines were made by the previous owners and I expect to see some improvement with the newer vintages. Jean Natoli advises.