Thursday, 22 October 2009

SOME LANGUEDOC HIGHLIGHTS IN LONDON, PLUS PROVENCE AND ROUSSILLON

WAITROSE have some new additions to their southern French range. While the Faugères, Domaine Marie and the St. Chinian, Domaine Combes, did little for me, I really enjoyed their new 2008 Costières de Nîmes, Fontaine du Roy. The small print told me that this is made by François Collard, who is the talent behind the better know name of Château Mourgues-du-Grès. The wine is beautifully perfumed on the nose, with some lovely spicy fruit on the palate, with a supple finish. I don’t think it would be unfair to say that Costières de Nîmes is the southern French answer to Beaujolais – at its best it produces eminently drinkable wines. There is no great ageing potential, no complex tannic structure, just sheer pleasure.. £5.99From Waitrose Direct and 141 branches

CORNEY & BARROW were showing a small selection of French Regional wines at their tasting at the Tower of London. They represent Chateau Léoube, an up-and coming Côtes de Provence estate, near Bormes-les-Mimosa, where Romain Ott is making the wine.
2008 Chateau Léoube Blanc, Côtes de Provence - £12.71
This has a rounded, herbal nose with a beautifully textured palate, with some leafy herbal notes, and what the French call fleurs blanches. The English translation of white flowers does not really do it justice, nor does the adjective floral. Think of white blossom, and more so. The grape variety mix is equal proportions of Rolle and Sémillon.
2008 Château Léoube Rosé, Côtes de Provence - £9.56
This is a blend of 40 per cent each of Grenache and Cinsaut, with10 per cent each of Syrah and Mourvèdre. The colour is a delicate pink and on the nose there is creamy raspberry fruit, which repeats on the palate, with some fresh acidity. Beautifully harmonious and balanced, displaying talented wine making.
I remembered enjoying the red enormously when I visited the estate last November, but sadly they were not showing it in London this week.

2008 Château la Nielle, Coteaux du Languedoc, La Clape – £6.77
This was a new name to me, but the small print revealed the name Boscary. Jacques Boscary is the owner of the award winning estate of Château la Rouquette-sur-Mer, which is one of the historic properties of this extraordinary part of the Languedoc. The wine was very perfumed on the nose, with lovely supple, ripe fruit and soft tannins on the palate, conjuring the herbs and spices of the garrigues of the Massif of la Clape, outside the city of Narbonne. However, there was enough tannin to provide the necessary backbone.

Next a new discovery at CLARK FOYSTER’S portfolio tasting, namely Mas Cristine, from Roussillon, which owns the last vineyards before you reach the tiny appellation of Collioure. The soil is clay, as opposed to the schist of Collioure.
2008 Cotes du Roussillon Blanc – Recommended retail price - £11.71
A blend of Macabeu, Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache Gris. Quite a rich herbal nose, with good ripe fruit on the palate, rich and leafy with good acidity. A successful combination of freshness and weight.
2007 Mas Cristine Rouge – £11.71
A blend of Syrah and Grenache. Medium colour; rich stony mineral fruit on the nose. Rich and spicy on the palate, with a lovely warm finish. A real winter warmer.

Coume del Mas is a Banyuls estate that is a familiar name, but I don’t think I have ever tasted the wines before and I was impressed. The estate was created by Philippe Gard, who began buying small plots of land back in 2000 and he subsequently took over Mas Cristine about five years ago.
2008 Folio, Collioure Blanc - £17.30
Grenache Gris, all barrel fermented but with no bâtonnage. Lightly oaky nose; nicely integrated oak and a rounded palate. Very good mouth feel, texture and weight, all balanced with good acidity.
2008 Schistes, Collioure - £17.41
Pure Grenache Noir. I thought Collioure needed to be a blend of grape varieties, but apparently not. Medium colour. Firm leathery fruit on the nose. Ripe. rounded and satisfying, with a good firm tannic streak and a generous finish.
2006 Quadratur, Collioure - £22.25
A blend of Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre. Deep colour, with dry leathery notes on the nose and rounded fruit on the palate; firm with youthful tannins and excellent depth of flavour.
2006 Banyuls Blanc - £15.87
Light golden colour; lightly biscuity on the nose. A soft, rounded palate, with biscuity notes and an alcoholic bite on the finish.
2006 Galateo Banyuls Rouge - £17.47
Pure Grenache Noir. Bright young red. Fresh spicy liquorice on the nose. The aim is for fresh fruit, and not the oxidative style of Banyuls. It works brilliantly well, with ripe red fruit, with some liquorice – think good ruby port, maybe an LBV, but the alcohol is well integrated, so no spirity finish.
2006 Quintessence Banyuls Rouge - £25.45
Again pure Grenache Noir. Quite a deep colour and more leathery, smokey notes on the nose and palate. The vineyards for this are at 300-400 metres, so the grapes are picked a month later than for Galateo, which comes from vines close to the sea. Here the aim is tannin and power, with a six week maceration allowing for maximum extraction of fruit. Lots of concentration and weight on the finish.

Some new wines from MAJESTIC were shown at their recent Winter Press tasting
2008 Domaine les Yeuses, Muscat à Petits Grains, Vin de Pays d’Oc - £7.99 or Buy two bottles and save £4 = £5.99
From an estate near Mèze and the étang de Thau. Fresh pithy, grapey fruit on the nose. Ripe and blowsy, with a fresh finish. It really tastes of grapes!
2007 Domaine Les Yeuses, Les Epices, Syrah, Vin de Pays d’Oc - £8.99 or £6.99 a bottle if you buy two.
This is benchmark Syrah, with a meaty spicy nose, with similar spice on the palate. Rounded and mouth-filling, with a leathery finish.
2007 Château la Dournie, St. Chinian - £7.99 and £6.99 if you buy two bottles
This is what the Midi is all about, redolent with Languedoc spice with lovely supple fruit and the appealing sun soaked scents of the garrigues. Just the thing for a winter’s evening in London.
2008 Château de Pennautier, Cabardès - £6.99 or buy 2 bottles and save £3 = £5.49. Or buy between 24th November and 4th January, and the price come down to £4.99. Cabardès is original, but not unique in including both bordelais and Midi varieties in the blend and Pennautier is the most prominent producer of this small appellation. And should you find yourself hungry and in the vicinity, the winery restaurant offers good local fare for lunch. This Cabardès is ripe and spicy, with some easy fruit, but finishes with a firm streak of tannin, more reminiscent of Bordeaux.

And now I am off to New Zealand for the best part of a month, so no more postings until my return in mid-November. I’ll be at the Organic wine tasting at the Maison du Languedoc in London on 19th November, so look out for a posting on that in due course.

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