The Outsiders is a friendly group of Languedoc producers, who do not originate from the region but from all four corners of the globe and other parts of France. A group of them were in London earlier this month for what proved to be a great tasting. I am not going to regurgitate my tasting notes for every single wine, but simply highlight a favourite from each producer. And apologies, I completely omitted to make a note of prices.
Domaine Ste Rose 2011 Roussanne Barrel Selection, Pays d’Oc
Ruth and Charles Simpson have made a bit of a speciality of Roussanne. The wine is still very young and with some quite obvious oak, but it is classy oak, and will, from the experience of previous vintages, tone down nicely with some bottle age. The wine is rich and textured, with layers of flavour, of white blossom, and will develop beautifully in bottle.
Rives Blanques 2012 Limoux, Dédicace, Chenin blanc.
I realise that I have developed something of soft spot for this wine, and the 2012 did not disappoint. It is honeyed and nutty on the nose, with dry honeyed fruit on the palate, with balancing acidity and a long rich finish. It is drinking beautifully now, but will also age – see my earlier post about the ageability of white wines from the Languedoc.
Clos du Gravillas 2013 lo Viehl Carignan, Côtes du Brian.
A wine that shows just how good Carignan is, and why it is so deserving of a revival in its reputation. Treat it properly, as Nicole and John Bojanowski do, and it responds beautifully. This has a deep colour, with some firm peppery fruit on the nose, and firm but ripe berry fruit on the palate, and with a youthful note of tannin, and the benchmark rustic streak that is classic Carignan.
Domaine de Cébène, Faugères, 2013 Felgaria
Brigitte Chevalier makes some of the most elegant Faugères and she is particularly enthusiastic about her Mourvèdre based cuvée. So am I. She was showing both 2012 and 2013 Felgaria. 2013 has a firm nose, with some ripe fruit and appealing youthful peppery spice on the palate. The hallmark is elegance.
Château St. Jacques d’Albas, Minervois, 2013 le Garric
Graham Nutter has added a new wine to his range of Minervois, le Garric, made from young vines, and a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. It has fresh peppery fruit on both nose and palate, with a youthful streak of tannin, making for some easy drinking. Le Domaine and le Château de St. Jacques d’Albas are both more serious.
Le Clos du Serres, 2013 le Saut du Poisson, Languedoc
A blend of 60% Grenache Blanc with some Roussanne and Vermentino. A small part of the Grenache is vinified in wood which fills out the palate nicely. Fresh lemony white flowers on the nose, and an elegantly rounded palate. Nicely textured with good fruit and fresh acidity.
Domaine Modat, 2011 Sans Plus Attendre, Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany.
This is mainly Syrah with a little Grenache Noir and Carignan, of which 60% is aged in demi muids. Philippe Modat began with barriques but has moved on to 500 litre barrels. Good colour. Firm and peppery on the nose, with ripe black fruit on the palate. Ripe and peppery and youthful. A full bodied mouthful of flavour. .
Domaine Turner-Pageot, 2013 la Rupture, Vin de France – 16.00€
I don’t normally like Sauvignon in the Midi, but there are exceptions to every generalisation and Manu Pageot’s 2013 La Rupture is one of them. 50% of the wine spent seven weeks on the skins and there is lots of firm stony mineral fruit on the nose and palate. It is youthful, tight knit and structured and firmly mineral on the finish.
Domaine Ste Hilaire, 2012 Silk Chardonnay, Pays d’Oc 15.00€
I have a soft spot for Ste Hilaire’s Vermentino and their 2014 has some appealing fresh lemony herbal notes on the nose and palate, with good acidity. However, I was also taken by 2012 Chardonnay Silk, a reference to Jonathan James’career in the legal world. Silk is lightly buttery on the nose and quite elegant and rounded on the palate, stylish with a good balance of fruit and understated oak.
Domaine le Madura 2012 Classique Rouge
This is one of my favourite St. Chinian estates and it was difficult to decide whether to enthuse about the Classique or the Grand Vin, or indeed about red or white wine. I’ve opted for 2012 Classique Rouge, with rounded ripe red fruit on the nose, and an elegant palate, with more red fruit and spice, and a fresh finish.
Château Beauregard Mirouze, Corbières Rosé Tradition – 7.00€
I’ll go for their rosé, partly because I have yet to mention a rosé, and secondly and more importantly because it is fresh and fruity, with notes of strawberries and a little vinosity on the finish. In other words it is everything that a rosé should be, making perfect summer drinking. It is a blend of macerated Syrah and pressed Grenache Noir.
Château d’Angles, la Clape, 2013 Classique, blanc – 9.50€
Another difficult choice here, red or white or even rosé. Good white la Clape always has a fresh salinity and this is no exception. You immediately sense that the vineyards are close to the sea, with an underlying salinity on both the nose and palate, with firm fruit and texture. It is wonderfully satisfying. The sappy, salty character is part of the charm of La Clape. 50% Bourboulenc, with 30% Grenache Blanc and some Marsanne and Roussanne.