New Year’s Eve in the Languedoc turned out to be a day with three completely different wine experiences.
First stop, Domaine Ollier-Taillefer in Fos to taste their new cuvée, Le Rêve de Noé, but you can’t pop in to Françoise Ollier’s friendly cellar and taste just one wine. First we compared 2012 and 2011 Grande Réserve. 2012 is elegant and spicy, while 2011 is richer and more concentrated. Next came their oaked cuvée Castel Fossibus, with a similar vintage difference, and then we broached Le Rêve de Noé.
Françoise explained that in 2013 their Mourvèdre was perfectly ripe, and the grapes were so good that they deserved a careful élevage in a new oak barrel. But she and her brother Luc do not like mono-cépages, so they added a barrel of particularly good Syrah that was also aged in a new barrel, to make just 800 bottles and 60 magnums. There will be none in 2014, but they have made it again in 2015. And it is a serious glass of wine, beautifully balanced and harmonious with fruit and oak, and not at all heavy, despite an alcohol level of 15.5˚. It combines concentration and elegance, with a lovely long lingering finish, and will age beautifully. It is an excellent addition to their range.
Early evening found us visiting a friend with a fractured pelvis in the hospital in Clermont l’Hérault. Her supper arrived, and her eyes lit up. It came with a glass of red wine – you don’t get that on the National Health, we commented. And then she tried the wine and her face said it all. So purely out of professional curiosity, I had to try it too. Frankly, and sadly, it was mean and lean; an example of the kind of wine that once gave the Languedoc such a bad reputation. Today with the improvements in viticulture and wine making, there is no excuse for such wine. We promised to bring a bottle with us the next time we visited.
And then on to dinner with friends, to enjoy as it turned out, some of the best of the Languedoc. A welcoming glass of 2013 J Laurens Les Graimenous, Crémant de Limoux, which was fresh and creamy. A glass of Domaine Barroubio’s Muscat de St. Jjean de Minervois went beautifully with some foie gras; it was fresh, honeyed and lemony. With an elegant prawn or three, we enjoyed 2007 Pas de l’Escalette Blanc. Julien Zernott is a particularly talented white wine maker, and this was delicious, evolving nicely, but still very youthful with good acidity and some mineral notes. Who said that Languedoc whites do not age? Next was 2002 Chloé from Jean-Louis Denois in Limoux, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet. Again this was drinking beautifully, nicely mature and rounded with some ripe cassis fruit and a harmonious finish. And the finale was a Rivesaltes Tuilé from Domaine des Chênes. Alain Razungles is one of the most talented wine makers of Roussillon and he has a way with sweet wines. This was delicious, lightly chilled, and tasted of red fruit and figs with a touch of spice. A great way to end the year.