Fish was on the menu for our first evening in the Languedoc, so the obvious choice was a bottle of 2010 Allegro from Domaine Ollier Taillefer. I’ve written notes about this wine before. Suffice it to say that it is one of my favourite Languedoc whites. The combination of Vermentino and Roussanne gives some lovely texture, with white blossom, acidity and length.
The best bottles are never quite big enough – and this was the case. We needed a little something else, and a bottle of 1998 Maury Blanc fitted the bill, for a glass or two with some fig compote. Blanc was not really an accurate description of the colour; it was more ambré, tawny in colour – I almost wondered whether it had been mislabelled - with quite rich nutty fruit on both nose and palate. There was a hint of dry honey and some balancing acidity, and some notes of fruits confits, so just the thing to go with figs. The bottle came from the Maury coop which works very well for its appellation.
On New Year’s Day we have a bit of a tradition, a good walk through the garrigues, with a group of friends, followed by Alice’s signature dish, an Irish stew. I get to provide the wine and as it happened I had some bottles of mature Minervois la Livinière that were calling for attention.
2007 Gérard Bertrand, le Viala.
Deep colour, just beginning to age. Quite a ripe sweet vanilla nose, with integrated oak and some black fruit. On the palate the tannins had matured, and were rounded and supple, and the fruit rich and evolved, with some dry leathery notes on the finish. It was a touch alcoholic on the finish. But in short a lovely example of how well Languedoc reds can age. 2007 was a good vintage in the Languedoc, faring much better than elsewhere in France.
2007 Château Massamier la Mignarde, Domus Maximus
This is the top cuvée of this estate. Quite a deep young colour. Quite intense black fruit; ripe with some vanilla and on the palate more smooth black fruit, balanced with supple tannins. There was underlying oak, but it was well integrated, so that the palate was harmonious and rounded with a long finish. A delicious bottle of wine that had undoubtedly benefitted from some bottle age. Who says wines from the Languedoc do not age? This was another shining example that they do.
2002 Château Faiteau.
Not one of the great vintages of the last decade , but actually surprisingly successful in the Minervois. Deep colour that was beginning to evolve. Dry leather and spice on the nose, and palate. Lighter body than the two 2007s, but quite elegant, with an attractive note of maturity. Maybe it was beginning to dry out just a little on the finish, and slithering off its plateau of optimum drinking, but it was none the worse for that, with a bit of cheese. There was underlying elegance. A jolly nice bottle.
Margot had made a tarte tatin, which called out for a bottle of Muscat de Rivesaltes. The prize winning Dom Brial from the coop at Baixas was just the thing, with rich honey and grapey fruit complimenting the caramel notes of the tarte.
And all it remains for me to say is Happy New Year – Bonne Année, with lots of good bottles from the Languedoc!