Wednesday, 28 March 2012

OLD RIVESALTES FROM DOMAINE CAZES

Mature old rancio Rivesaltes along with Maury and Banyuls must be amongst the most original wines of the Languedoc, and yet they are so grossly underrated. Domaine Cazes are masters of the style and they have found various batches of old wines, from small local growers, which are still in barrel, small barrels sized from 400 litres to 10 hectolitres at the very most. In contrast their delicious Cuvée Aimé Cazes is aged in large foudres, so a subtle difference in style. The grape variety blend is Malvoisie, Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir, mixed up together in the vineyard, but with Grenache blanc the dominant variety. They are bottling wines from the 1930s through to the youngest, 1962. Only the immediate pre-war years are missing, 1936, 1937 and 1938. So I could not resist an invitation to taste these on the Advini stand at Vinisud. There were just three wines, but what wines, 1952, 1942 and 1932. How often you do go to a tasting where most of the wines are older than you?!

1952 was still in barrel. It was light amber in colour, with the most wonderful nutty nose, and elegant walnut fruit. On the palate there was good acidity and a firm bite, with richly elegant fruit and considerable length. It was served at room temperature which brought out all the various nuances. It just lingered in the mouth so that I could still taste it after a ten minute conversation.

1942 was a deeper amber colour, and more intense on the nose, with dry nutty notes. There was a firm bite on the palate, with great intensity and dry walnut fruit, and again considerable length on the finish.

1932 Light amber in colour. Comparisons are odious, but this did make me think of fine dry oloroso sherry. It was extraordinary, with a firm dry bite on the nose, and a certain underlying richness, and elegance on the palate. Not sweet but rich, with enormous length and a lingering flavour of walnuts. I simply ran out of superlatives.

And if you wondered about the price of these liquid treasures, the 1930s will be about 400€ a bottle and the 1950s 150€. I wonder if I can afford a bottle of my birth year.

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