Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Outsiders' Tasting



The Outsiders are a group of ten wine growers from Languedoc-Roussillon, who were not born and bred in the region.  Their origins are as varied as England, Ireland, Holland, New Zealand, Australia and North America – and elsewhere in France.   Some, but not all, have had careers in other fields, before coming to wine, and to the Midi, which gives them a broader experience and wider horizons than many of the more traditional wine growers of the region.  And last Thursday they were in London for a tasting at the Maison du Languedoc.  I already knew most of them, and so it was a great opportunity for a catch up and a taste of new vintages.

Château Rives-Blanques  - www.rives-blanques.com

Caryl Panman was at the first table and anyone who reads my blog with any regularity will know that Rives- Blanques is one of my favourite Limoux – and I always enjoy seeing Caryl.  

2010 Blanquette de Limoux
Fresh herbal creamy fruit on nose and palate.  Very elegant with good depth.  This was a great start to the tasting, and the 2010 vintage is particularly successful.

2009 Crémant de Limoux Rosé
Light pink colour.  Delicate raspberry nose.  Ripe, rounded and creamy on the palate – raspberries and cream in a glass.

2011 Limoux Occitania, Mauzac
Quite a rounded oaky nose.  Good acidity; intriguing herbal notes and a touch of ginger.

2011 Le Limoux 
This was made for the first time in 2010.  A blend of Chardonnay,  Chenin Blanc and Mauzac.  Caryl explained the blending decision.  First they choose the barrels for Trilogy, and then they determine the individual varietals, and make a selection from those barrels for Le Limoux.  The result was some elegant oak, with fruit underneath.  Some honeyed hints, with rounded fruit and good length, and potential for future development, to tone down the oak.

2010 Limoux, Dédicace
Chenin Blanc. Dry and honeyed with youthful fruit and firm acidity.  A touch of oak on the finish.  Textured palate and again still youthful, with plenty of potential.

2011 Limoux Chardonnay
Quite rich and buttery on the palate. Nice mouth feel. 

Clos du Gravillas  - www.closdugravillas.com

John Bojanowski is one of the leading enthusiasts for Carignan, both red and white.  But we began with:

2011 Emmenez-Moi au Bout du Terret blanc  IGP Côtes de Brian
Light herbal nose.  Quite rounded palate with good acidity and herbal notes.

2009 Minervois, l’Inattendu
Light colour.  Quite rounded nutty nose, ripe and rounded and texture.  This is Carignan blanc.

2009 Lo Viehl Carignan, IGP Côtes de Brian
Light red colour.  Ripe berry fruit.  An appealing rustic note on the palate, with fresh fruit.  Good tannin structure and elegant balance.

And as he is in the village of St. Jean de Minervois, he was also offering:

2011 Douce Providence, Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois
Light colour.  Elegant honey on both nose and palate.  Fresh, with a hint of orange and some grapey fruit.   

Château d’Anglès  - www.chateaudangles.com

Eric Fabre was technical director at Chateau Lafite for a number of years, but really wanted to grow Mourvèdre on the Massif of La Clape.  Nonetheless, there is a bordelais style in their wines, beginning with the idea of a Classique Cuvée and a Grand Vin for both red and white.  His son, Vianney, was pouring their wines.

2009  La Clape Classique Red
Syrah, Grenache Mourvèdre.  Elegant spicy fruit.  Silky tannins.  Elegant balance.  Very stylish and satisfying.

2008 La Clape Grand Vin Red
This is 55% Mourvèdre, with Syrah and Grenache, with ten months in oak.   Ripe fruit.  Quite rounded and gutsy, a certain meaty tapenade quality.  Ripe and solid, but with well mastered tannins  and lots of character.  Needs some time.

2010 La Clape Classique White
50% Bourboulenc, 30% Grenache blanc, with 10% each of Marsanne and Roussanne.   Herbal and salty on nose and palate.  The vineyards are very close to the sea. Nice body, with a refreshing sappy note. 

2009 La Clape Grand Vin White
40%  Bourboulenc, 20% Grenache blanc – 60 year old vines, with 20% each of Marsanne and Roussanne.    Barrel fermented in old oak.  Very rounded, very ripe.  Rich with layers of flavour.

There will be more on Chateau d’Anglès in due course, as I did visit them in the summer, so they are due another post.      

Domaine Turner Pageot www.turner-pageot.com

Manu Pageot was pouring their wines.  He is French and his wife Karen is Australian, and they met in Alsace, chez Hugel.  Karen also makes the wine for the now Russian owned Prieuré de St. Jean de Bébian.   I really enjoy their white wines.

2011 La Rupture
Fresh herbal fruit on nose and palate with good acidity.  Some lovely characterful Sauvignon.

2011 Blanc
80% Roussanne with 20% 'orange' Marsanne – i.e. a vin nature.  Light colour.  Rounded ripe white blossom with a nutty streak.  Nicely textured, with weight and length and an ‘orange’ edge.

2010 Carmina Major
70% Syrah, half grown on limestone and half on volcanic soil, with 30% Mourvèdre.  One year in wood and another year in tank.  Quite peppery, sold and ripe, quite dense firm and tannin and plenty of ageing potential.

2010 Le Rouge
80% Grenache grown on schist, with 20% Syrah grown on volcanic soil.  Ripe and rounded.  Quite dense and spicy.  Gutsy and warm, with a tannic edge.  Manu observed that the 2012 harvest had dragged on – it had turned out well, but had been quite tricky.

Domaine Sainte Rose with Ruth and Charles Simpson.   www.sainterose.com

Not content with making wine in the south of France, they have also bought land in Kent, near Canterbury and are planning a vineyard for sparkling wine.   These are all IGP d’Oc..

2011 Le Marin Blanc
A blend of Marsanne, Roussanne with 10% Viognier.  Quite rounded, ripe and oaky with a good balance.

2009 Barrel Selection Roussanne
Aged in barrel.  Quite golden colour.  Rounded nose and palate.  A rich oxidative style.   Their flagship wine.

2009 Le Pinnacle Syrah
Ripe and oaky and peppery and spicy with some tannin.

2011 Les Derniers Cépages
Made from Petit Verdot and Mourvèdre, the last grape varieties to ripen, and the last varieties that Ruth and Charles planted.  Medium colour.  Quite fresh ripe and oaky on both nose and palate.   Some spice and a rich finish.    

Domaine Treloarwww.domainetreloar.com - in Roussillon, with Rachel Treloar who comes from New Zealand.

2011 La Terre Promise, IGP Côtes Catalanes
Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Carignan blanc.  Fermented and then six months ageing in oak.  Delicate nose; nicely rounded nutty fruit, with good acidity and satisfying structure.

2011 Muscat de Rivesaltes
Light golden; quite sweet spicy nose.  Ripe, fresh lemony and honeyed with refreshing balancing acidity.

2010 Côtes du Roussillon, Three Peaks
Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre, all aged in oak.  Quite rounded and ripe.  Nice balance; medium weight.  Harmonious.

2010 Côtes du Roussillon, Motus
90% Mourvèdre, all aged in oak.  Firm oak, with a youthful structure palate and a tight knit nose.  Masses of potential.

Domaine Sainte Croix, in the village of Fraissé des Corbières  www.saintecroixvins.com   
With Liz Bowen.  This was the one completely new estate, to me.  Jon Bowen trained at Plumpton and 2004 was their first vintage.  They have 14 hectares. 

2011 La Serre white
Grenache blanc and Grenache blanc, from two plots,  one late picked on schist,  and the other early picked on limestone.  Cool fermented in tank.  Quite a rich ripe nose, but with a leaner, more restrained palate.  Dry white blossom.

2010 Le Fournas
Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and a little Mourvèdre.  No wood.  Fournas derives from furnace, so an especially warm vineyard site.  Dry spice; a little stalky on the finish but some peppery dry fruit.  Medium weight.

2009 Magneric
60% with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Part aged in wood.  Ripe, rounded cherry liqueur fruit.  Quite ripe with sweet fruit.  A little alcoholic on the finish at 14.5º.

2007 Carignan, Vin de table
Carignan, with 15% Grenache, planted in 1905. 70% in wood.  No maceration carbonique.  Destemmed grapes and natural yeast. Firm fruit on nose and palate.  Some berry fruit, and some body.   Quite structured. 

2009 La Part des Anges
A late harvest Carignan, from grapes picked at the end of October, so a good month later than usual  and then dried on mats in the attic.  Fermented in wood.  Deep colour.  Rich spice and ripe red berry fruit, with a tannic streak.   Made for the first time in 2006, and now an annual production of just 600 bottles per year.  An original dessert wine.   Perfect for a chocolate pudding.   

Domaine de Saumarez, with Robin Williamson.  www.domainedesaumarez.com

2011 S’ white
A blend of Grenache blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne.  Fresh and zingy on the palate with youthful fruit.  What Robin called un vin de la semaine, for  a weekday supper.

2010 S’ red
A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.  Quite rounded, ripe spice with a tannic edge.  Easy drinking.

2010 Trinitas
One third each of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah.  Co-fermented.  Medium colour.  Quite rounded with easy spicy.  Nicely harmonious.  Elegant with depth.

2010 Aalenien
Named after the geological formation, based on quartz, and mainly Syrah.   Frustratingly both bottles were very slightly corked, not blatantly so, but just enough to dull the wine, and give it a slightly grubby edge.  This is TCA taint at its most invidious as you could just think that it was the result of bad winemaking, if you did not know better.  Underneath the cork was some peppery fruit with a firm structure.

Château de Combebelle  www.combebelle.com

Catherine Wallace was showing a mini-vertical of four St. Chinian, essentially the same wine, a blend of 60% Syrah with 40% Grenache, but with vintage variations.  About 30% new oak, with the rest aged in older oak..  I tasted from young to old, when she would have preferred me to do the opposite, and when I reached the 2008 I could see why, as it was the least successful of the four wines.   Catherine has obviously learnt much from experience.

2008 St Chinian
Medium colour; a bit earthy and edgy

2009 – Some ripe spicy fruit.  Rounded.  Some tannin.  Medium weight.

2010 – Medium colour. Quite a ripe nose.  Rounded with some oak on the palate.

2011 – Quite rounded fresh and youthful. Some spice and a firm streak of tannin.

Domaine de Cébène, in Faugeres  www.cebene.fr   with Brigitte Chevalier  Cébène was the name of a sleeping lady, and the origin of the name Cevennes

2011 Ex Arena IGP Oc
90%  Grenache with 10% Mourvèdre
Medium colour, quite ripe spicy fruit, with liqueur cherries.  Medium weight.  A streak of tannin. 

2011 Faugères, Belle Lurette
Based on Carignan.  Firm spicy berry fruit.  A certain rustic note on the palate.  Ripe spice and rich fruit.   Carignan at its best

2010 Faugères les Bancèls
Syrah with a little Grenache and Mourvèdre.   Medium colour.  Quite dense spice on the nose.  Ripe and rounded on the palate, with supple tannins.

2011 Faugères les Bancèls
The same blend, with some lovely spice.  Youthful fruit and appealing peppery notes.  Lots of potential

2010 Faugères, Felgaria
Mainly Mourvèdre, grown on schist.  Quite a rounded palate, with some peppery fruit.  Medium weight and elegant.

2011 Faugères Felgaria.
Medium colour.  Some peppery depth with some body.  Ripe spice and good fruit.  Still quite tannic, but elegant.

A great tasting with some lovely wines.  The Outsiders may be a somewhat artificial grouping but they make an effective marketing team, with some undeniably delicious wines.

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