This is not a new post, but a replacement, thanks to a technological hitch, or shall we just say that I pressed the wrong button and deleted the earlier post!
I always enjoy visiting Marc Benin at Domaine de Ravanès, and have learnt that it is most unwise to have another cellar visit immediately afterwards, or indeed anything else pressing to do, as I will invariably be late, as Marc always produces extra wines to taste and has lots to say about them. Marc, and his father Guy, were amongst the pioneers of Bordeaux grape varieties in the Languedoc, with their first commercial vintage in 1979. Ravanès is outside the village of Thézan-les-Beziers, in the IGP of the Coteaux de Murviel. Marc has now reduced his vineyard to 32 hectares, down from 55.. The terroir is argilo-calcaire, clay and limestone and the vineyards are at quite a low altitude.
2010 L’Ibis Blanc, Vin de France – 5.50€
A blend of Grenache Blanc and Ugni Blanc – 50/50 The Grenache goes into wood and the Ugni Blanc is fermented in vat. I found almonds and fennel on the nose, with good acidity and some more fennel on the palate. A nice balance with a fresh finish, and some body. A nice touch of originality.
Observation from Marc that the bordelais négociants are selling off Cabernet and Merlot under the Vin de France label, so that Pays d’Oc is inevitably suffering. The president of the Pays d’Oc Syndicat is apparently furious.
And if you label your wine Vin de France, with no further geographical indication, you cannot use the word Domaine on the label, even if you are a Domaine.......
2011 Rosé, le Guépier – named after a bird that comes from Africa for the summer and catches wasps. 2/3 Cinsaut to 1/3 Merlot. Pays d’Oc – 5.50€
Pale orange pink colour. Saigné. A nose redolent of strawberries and raspberries and even more so on the palate. Rounded and fresh with a vinous finish. This is not what Marc deprecatingly called un rosé de piscine – a swimming pool rosé
2010 Rosé le Guépier, Pays d’Oc
Light orange colour. A dry nose. Quite a firm herbal palate with some acidity. Vinous with a certain structure.
2009 Rosé le le Guépier
Much deeper colour as the wine was only run off after two hours, so spent longer on the skins. Quite rounded and ripe, wit herbal notes. Vinous and heavier, with a slightly cloying finish. Although it was intriguing to see that a rosé could age so well, I really preferred the youngest wine.
However, Marc loves experimenting, so then we tried Solera Ravanès, bottled in 2008. A four year Solera, begun in 2004 and bottled in 2008. The wine was quite oaky, but with a very satisfying texture and some mature fruit. A lovely balance.. Long and rich and very intriguing. Marc used the barrels in which he had previously fermented his sweet wine, Qvinteszencia, so presumably that also contributed to the flavour.
2009 Merlot Cabernet, Coteaux de Murviel – 6.00€
Some cassis fruit, but a slightly odd nose. Needs to breathe – maybe a touch of reduction, and or brett. Which prompted a discussion about where brett comes from. Marc observed that you do not systematically get it in the same vat. It may come from the vines.
2010 Petit Verdot – 9.50€
Élevage in vat, bottled 2012. Marc used to call this wine Le Prime Verd, but now that the grape variety is allowed in the Languedoc, he can give it its proper name. Good colour; rounded ripe but fresh fruit. Quite textured. Good balance. Youthful. Supple tannins. Very bordelais. And very original.
2008 Petit Verdot.
Good colour. Light, herbal nose, with some cassis. Quite a fresh palate, but more vegetal, with come tannins.
2008 Cuvée Diogène. 11.50€
Not made every year. 60% Petit Verdot, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Good colour. Young fruit on the nose. Ripe cassis. Nice depth with good balance on the palate. Rounded, youthful. Good fruit. Elegant with harmonious tannins. 70% of the wine is given 18 months élevage in wood.
2007 Les Gravières du Taurou – 26.00€
58% Petit Verdot / 42% Merlot, which was planted by Marc’s father Guy in 1972. 28 months in wood, 30% new. Deep colour. Quite dense smoky nose. Quite solid, dense ripe palate. Smoky and cedary. Lots of nuances, with some firm youthful tannins.
2006 Gravières – 25.00€
More Merlot than Petit Verdot in this vintage. Quite a cedary nose. Very elegant palate, with depth and length. Elegant cedary fruit. Riper with more tannins than 2007.
2007 le Prime Verd – 27.00€
Pure Petit Verdot with 30 months in wood. Deep colour. A touch animal. Rounded dense ripe fruit, with quite furry tannins. Rounded and rich, and still very youthful, with a tannic streak balanced by good fruit.
2006 le Prime Verd – 30.00€
Deep colour. Firmer, tighter nose. More elegant, but tauter. Dry cassis fruit, with a lot of depth. Elegant and refined.
1999 le Prime Verd
Deep young colour. Young cedary cassis nose and on the palate elegant, youthful cedary fruit. Great depth and length. Beautifully balanced. And tasting much younger than 13.
And why plant Petit Verdot? The short answer was pour ça – it gives a spinal column to a wine, and also acidity.
And then we went onto white wines:
2010 le Renard Blanc, Coteaux de Murviel – 16.00€
80% Grenache Gris to 20% Macabeo, fermented in wood and aged for 12 months. Light golden. Notes of fennel on both nose and palate, balanced with very good acidity. A lot of matière, rich, aniseed notes. An amazing balance of acidity and minerality and fennel, with a certain richness on the finish. The Grenache is 75 years old and the Macabeo 80, from a vineyard that they bought in 2005. .
2009 Le Renard Blanc – 16.00€
Light golden. Nice resinous note on nose and palate. A firm streak of acidity, with lots of nuances of subtle fruit. Great length. Marc admitted that he was inspired by Banyuls wine grower, Marc Parcé’s l’Argille. The yield is less than 20 hl/ha. Macabeo produces very small berries and very few bunches, with a yield of 10 – 15 hl/ha
2007 Le Renard Blanc.
Quite golden, quite solid and ripe with notes of oxygenation, rather than oxidation. Quite solid and rich and herbal with lots of nuances. Ageing beautifully.
1998 l’Ille, Vendange Tardive, Ugni blanc, picked in November and December. Five picking all together, from grapes with botrytis or passerillé. Amber golden colour. Very apricot on nose and palate. Very smooth and unctuous with some fresh fruit and an edge of acidity, and a fresh finish. Very smooth. 75 gms/l of residual sugar.
MM (2000) Qvinteszencia de l’Ille – 42€
Very intense, very concentrated, Unctuous and more like Vin Santo. With figs and dates. 150 gms/l of residual sugar and 76 months in wood. And a grand finale to our tasting. Domaine de Ravanès deserves to be better known.