The first evening in our Languedoc home for three months and friends coming to dinner – so a good opportunity to open a bottle or two.
First was Villa Dondona’s 2010 Esperel,Coteaux du Languedoc Blanc, a blend of Vermentino and Grenache Blanc with a touch of Marsanne and Roussanne. Light colour, with some herbal notes on the nose. Some white blossom and a herbal note on the palate, balanced with refreshing acidity. Nicely understated. It made a good apéro. I first tried this in the spring when it won a trophy in the Vallée de l’Hérault competition and it was gratifying to find it just as good nine months on.
Next came 2009 Les Clauzes de Jo from Domaine des Belles Pierres. Damien Coste is a particularly talented white winemaker. And this was delicious, with a light colour and a slightly honeyed note on the nose. There was more honey on the palate, with a ripe flavour and a satisfying mouth feel, balanced with good acidity and a rounded finish. A blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier.
And then we compared a pair of Carignan. First was 2009 Vieux Carignan, Cuvée Paul from Mas d’Amile in Montpeyroux, so an IGP Mont Baudile. Medium young colour. Some berry fruit on the nose, and even more on the palate with a streak of tannin. An elegant edge of rusticity. Nicely balanced fruit and tannins. Still quite youthful but drinking well now.
2004 Carignan from Jean-Louis Denois in Limoux, so a more mature wine from cooler vineyards. Medium colour. Quite a dry leathery quality on the nose, and also on the palate, with some dry fruit. A certain sturdy quality; a more masculine wine than Mas d’Amile. Quite rustic with dry warmth and very satisfying.
So two shining examples of the dramatic improvement in white wine making in the Languedoc, and two lovely examples of a once despised grape variety.
And for a quiet ‘this is not a New Year’s Eve dinner’, I am contemplating a bottle of Crémant de Limoux Rosé from Domaine Rives Blanques, and a bottle of Domaine de Clovallon’s best Pinot Noir, 2006 les Pomarèdes to accompany a guinea fowl.
Bonne Année to all lovers of Languedoc wines!