I spent most of last Saturday at the annual wine fair in Aniane. It is held in the old Chapelle des Pénitents in the old part of the town, which is a surprisingly successful venue, comfortably accommodating thirty exhibitors from the surrounding villages, Puechabon, St. Jean-de-Fos, Gignac, St André-de-Sangonis, Montpeyroux, St. Saturnin, as far as Clermont l’Hérault, as well as Aniane itself.
I was with my tasting buddy, Lits, and we agreed our plan – to taste the red entrée de gamme or entry level wine for each exhibitor. Quality varied, and so did the price. We might have expected to taste 2010s and 2009s, but there were also 2006 and 2005s lurking – I realised that many of the visitors had come specifically to buy wine, and so some wine growers were hoping to off load some older vintages. And then if we liked the entry level, we went back for more, depending on our mood. It has to be said that we did get a bit discouraged half way round the room, confronted by several wines that seemed to lack fruit, or were clumsily inky. And in some instances, the entry level wine was the best of the range, for being nicely unadulterated by the infelicitous use of oak.
So wines I could happily have drunk for dinner that evening included:
2009 les Chemins de Carabotte, IGP Mont Baudile, Carignan - 7.00€
Good colour; quite dense ripe fruit. Some spice. Quite a sturdy mouthful, with some supple tannins. Characterful.
2010 Mas Laval, les Pampres – 9.00€
A blend of 60% Syrah, with Mourvèdre, and Grenache. Ripe fruit, quite concentrated palate, and quite fleshy, with a nice balance.
2010 Domaine de Familongue, Mas des Vignals, Mont Baudile, Cinsaut – 5.50€
Medium colour; a bit stalky on the nose, but with much more fruit on the palate. Quite fresh and easy.
2009 Domaine Puech-Auger, Montpeyroux, les Faïsses de Jean – 5.00€
Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Good colour; quite a solid nose; quite rounded and ripe on the palate, a hint of orange and some good spice, with a touch of minerality. Great value.
2007 Domaine des Trémières, Cabernet Franc, Pays d’Oc - 5.70€
Quite rounded fruit, but with a tannic edge of Cabernet Franc, with acidity as well as tannin. Medium weight.
2009 Domaine Virgile Joly, Joly Rouge – 7.00€
Medium colour; a touch stalky on the nose, with some fruit on the palate. Medium weight. Drink slightly chilled.
2010 Domaine Jordy, Tradition - 4.60€
60% Grenache, with Syrah and Cinsaut. Some garrigues fruit on the nose, and more ripe fruit on the palate. Quite gouleyant, a slightly sweet perfumed note.
2010 Domaine Coston, IGP San Guilhem-le-Desert- 6.50€
Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cinsaut. Medium weight; some rounded fruit on nose and palate. Some appealing spice; nice balance and easy drinking.
Other people didn’t really have an entry level wine. Take Mas de Daumas Gassac, once one of the stars of the Midi, but these days I find the red wines unremarkable, while I still enjoy the whites.
2010 white Mas de Daumas Gassac – 30€ - is ripe and peachy, with good acidity. Satisfying texture and mouth feel, with some delicate white blossom fruit.
2010 rose Frizant – 12.00€ - A rather curious colour, and a flavour reminiscent of what the French so aptly call bonbons anglais, or boiled sweets.
There was a cask sample of 2010 and a bottle sample of 2008 (32.00€) which left me feeling that my taste buds must have missed something, for both I described both as lean.
Another estate that is best avoided is l’Esprit de la Fontaine – 32€
This is a blend of Syrah, with Grenache and Carignan. Unfortunately the person pouring the wine was not up to answering basic questions, so I think he thought the wine was aged in tronconique concrete vats for eighteen months. Whatever, the 2007 vintage tasted rather stalky and lean; the 2008 has a little more fruit, with a peppery note, but was still rather lean, and the 2009, which was a vat sample, was rather light, with a curious sweet note. The back label mentioned Gerard Dépardieu, and Philippe Salasc, whose family once owned Château de Capion, as well as some unfamiliar names. It all seemed rather a waste of effort, and was certainly not worth the price.
But on to more expensive wines that were worth drinking….
To my mind Mas Cal Demoura consistently produces elegant, finely crafted wines, and Saturday was no exception.
2010 Etincelle, IGP Hérault – 14.00€
40% Chenin with Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Muscat and a touch of Petit Manseng, which is new to the blend. Some exotic fruit on the nose; nicely rounded fruit, with lots of intriguing nuances on the palate. Fruit and acidity and complexity.
2009 Paroles de Pierres, vin de table 19.00
70% Chenin Blanc, with Roussanne and a little Petit Manseng, 2009 is the second vintage of this wine. It enjoys a year longer ageing than l’Etincelle, and in older oak. Quite textured, with dry honey and good acidity. Some minerality and a note of quince on the palate. Again very intriguing. Two lovely examples of how well the white wines of the Languedoc are developing.
2010 Rosé Qu’es Aquo, Coteaux du Languedoc – 8.50€
Quite bright pink. Very fresh acidity. Rounded cherry fruit.
2009 L’Infidèle, Terrasses du Larzac - 14.50€
Quite rounded but firm leathery fruit on the nose. A touch of oak, but nicely fondu. Good fruit with depth of flavour and length on the palate.
2009 Les Combariolles – Terrasses du Larzac – 22.00€
Firm structured oak on the nose and palate. Quite firm leathery fruit. There is more Mourvèdre and less Grenache in this wine, to achieve the desired balance in quite a warm sunny year. Structured; stony minerality on the finish.
2009 Feu Sacré – 35€
80% Grenache, with Syrah. Quite solid and rounded, ripe and dense. Warm leathery Grenache fruit. Youthful. Solid and charpenté; needs time.
Domaine Puech Auger was one of two estates from Montpeyroux, and well worth a taste.
2007 Montpeyroux, les Dolomies – 9.00€
50% Syrah, with Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Quite firm stony mineral fruit, with some oak and a dry finish. Nose a bit unforthcoming.
2007 Elegance – 13.00
50% Grenache, with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Solid and rounded and too oaky for my taste buds.
In fact I preferred Didier Crezegut’s whites and rosé – and he also let slip that he has truffles on his land …..
2010 rosé – 5.00€
Syrah, Cinsaut and Mourvèdre. Orange pink colour. Quite fresh and ripe with fresh acidity and good fruit.
2009 l’Envie, Mont Baudile, Chenin blanc – 100% - 6.00€
Quite rounded with dry honey and soft acidity. Good balance.
2009 les Dolomies – 7.00€
A blend of Roussanne and Rolle, aged in oak, but nice oak, making for rounded ripe, and also oaky wine. How will it age?
I also enjoyed les Chemins de Carabote on the same occasion last year – and the wines did not disappoint this year. On the list for a cellar visit.
2007 Coteaux du Languedoc – 11.00€
50% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 15% Carignan
Quite rich and rounded, with some leathery fruit on the palate. Medium weight. Good texture.
2007 Terrasses du Larzac – 18.00€
Again 50% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 15% Carignan, with 18 months élevage. Quite rounded with spicey fruit. Good balance. Oak nicely fondu.
Rosé, Languedoc – 6.00€
Syrah, with a little Grenache. Pressed grapes, so quite a pale colour. Quite mouth filling with good body and a certain weight. A satisfying food rosé.
Domaine Lacoste Germane also caught my eye for a cellar visit, with:
2006 Oeillade, Coteaux du Salagou. 8.00€
I expressed surprise at an Oeillade of that age – normally you think of it as a wine to drink young and fresh, but M. von Braun makes a point of ageing his wines. It was very intriguing. It had spent three years in vat, on fine lees, with no filtering or fining. It was quite rounded and perfumed, with some body and depth.
Next came two vintages of Faïsses, which means terraces in Occitan.
The 2004 vintage (12.00€) was bottled in 2007, after an élevage in vat. Medium colour; elegant cassis; ripe fruit, quite rounded with harmonious tannins.
2002 Faïsses – 18.00€ - was quite a deep colour, with rounded mature cedary notes on the nose and palate. Medium weight. Beautifully balanced.
I enjoyed the wines of Fons Sanatis last year, and was not disappointed this year.
(2009) Witiz – 100% Carignan, vin de table. 12.00€
Medium colour. Quite a solid nose; a touch confit, and on the palate quite concentrated with spicey fruit and quite dense furry tannins. Characterful.
(2009) Gren – in other words a pure Grenache, that has spent 18 months in vat. Vin de table. - 14.00€
Quite a ripe fresh nose, reminiscent of liqueur cherries, and even more so on the palate, with some leathery fruit. Quite firm and rounded with some depth.
2009 Senescal, vin de table, Aramon – 16.00€
A touch viandé on the nose, but some intriguing fruit on the palate. Quite furry tannins. Not very harmonious, but it left you wondering.
Then onto Domaine de Familongue for Les Trois Naissances
first the 2010 rosé – 6.40€ - from Grenache and Syrah, saigné and vinified in wood, which gives more weight and a satisfying mouth feel; nicely rounded on the palate, with spicy ripe fruit.
2008 Les Trois Naissances red – 15.00€
Syrah and Mourvèdre makes up 70% of the blend, with Grenache, Cinsaut and Carignan. Medium colour; lightly smoky nose; nicely rounded spicey fruit, with a dry leathery finish.
A white also caught our attention:
2009 Domaine des Conquêtes, IGP Hérault – - 9.70€ It is an intriguing blend of Vermentino, Chenin, Grenache and Chardonnay, vinified in oak. A hint of oak on the palate, with youthful fruit. Nicely crafted. And it will age; we’ve just enjoyed the 2007, which was a tad oaky in its youth, but it has evolved beautifully into a very satisfying bottle with rounded fruit and texture.
And a couple of sweet wines to finish:
Domaine de Familongue, Clairette. Vin de raisins surmûris and botrytised. Quite a deep golden colour rounded with rich honey unctuous notes on the palate. Quite smooth, with the gout de rôti that is characteristic of noble rot. The vintage is 2005, but you are not allowed to say so on the label. 14€ for 50 cl. bottle.
Chemins de Carabotte Promenade en novembre (2006) Vin de France. 14.00€ for a 50cl. bottle. From overripe Grenache grapes, picked in November. Very intriguing; lovely elegantly sweet liqueur cherry fruit with a streak of tannin. Medium weight.