If you live in Bath, you are lucky as you have what is generally considered the best wine merchant of the south west of England on your doorstep, namely Great Western Wines. Fortunately for those of us who live elsewhere, they do have a website www.greatwesternwine.co.uk and sell on the net, and last week they brought a great selection of their wines up to London for the benefit of the wine press.
There were all sorts of delicious things on offer, but as it happens only a couple from the Languedoc, namely
2010 Le Limoux, Château Rives Blanques - £11.95
This comes from my good friends Jan and Caryl Panman and is a blend of 42% Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay 40% and Mauzac 18%, in other words the three white varieties that you find in sparkling Limoux, Blanquette or Crémant. And they make for delicious still wine. Light colour. Some intriguing herbal notes on the nose, and on the palate a touch of oak and good acidity and some intriguing dry honeyed notes. It should age beautifully and become richer and fuller in the palate.
And for red wine there was 2007 Faugères, Domaine de Prés Lasses, Castel Viel - £21.00 This is a blend of Carignan 40%, Grenache 40% and 10% each of Mourvèdre and Syrah. Great Western provided commendably detailed information on grape varieties. £21 is a bit steep for a Faugères, but the wine had lots of character. Deep young colour; quite a rounded nose with dry spice. On the palate plenty of fruit, with more spice and some furry tannins on the palate, and was warm and gutsy on the finish. I realised afterwards that I had tasted wines from this estate at the Salon des Vignerons Independents in Paris last autumn and had been a little hesitant about them as they struck me as being quite alcoholic. Indeed this weighs in at 14.5º. In Paris I tried the 2008 vintage of this cuvée, and was told that the Carignan was at least 60 years old, if not 70 or 80 years old. And the wine had spent 20 months in oak, at least one third new barrels, and was unfiltered. I had found the 2008 rich and characterful, as indeed is the 2007. The producer, Boris Feigal, comes from Alsace, so this is yet another example of the many newcomers to Faugères
A final note that has nothing to do with the Languedoc. I love weird and unusual grape varieties, and Braucol comes into that category; it is grown in various appellations of south west France and is also known as Mansois and Fer Servadou – or if you look it up in the magnificent tome on grape varieties produced by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz, you will find a host of other synonyms that I have never heard of. Anyway the wine in question was a Côtes de Tarn from Domaine Vigné-Laurac in the village of Cahuzac-sur-Vère, which is part of the Gaillac appellation. Medium young colour, with quite firm berry fruit on the nose. And on the palate it was ripe and juicy with lovely red fruit and some acidity as well as tannin. A lovely refreshing glass of wine that would be delicious slightly chilled on a summer’s day – so sorry not really an appropriate recommendation for today, when I am watching the snow coming down – and for just £8.95.