Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Wines of Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois.


                           




A deviation from the Languedoc.  And calling all over lovers of Chablis.   Look out for my 13th book (lucky 13!) and my third book on Chablis, meeting the grandchildren of the winegrowers in the first book, as well as people from some new estates.  


Available on Amazon and from my publishers, www.infideas.com

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Colline de l'Hirondelle



Thanks to my friend Emma Kershaw, I spent a day in the Corbières and discovered two new wine estates.  Domaine Colline de l’Hirondelle was created by Jennifer Buck and Didier Ferrier.  Jen is a highly articulate Californian.  After environmental studies, she came to France to teach English, and met Didier whose father had vineyards.  Didier was also a rugby player and employed by Vignerons Val d’Orbieu to run their internal communication.  And when Didier’s father retired, they decided to take over the best four hectares of his 30 hectare estate; he was a member of the village cooperative at Douzens.  So they arrived in 2007, and made their first wine in 2008.  

Their house and winery are well positioned on a hill outside the village, with some vineyards nearby.  They have old Carignan, plots that are both 70 and 100 years old, as well as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and unusually Chenanson for red wine, and for white, Roussanne which they planted in 2010. Since then they also planted some Grenache Gris, in 2012.  They have been organic since the beginning.  

We talked about all the problems in the vineyard.  For vers de la grappe, pheromones inducing sexual confusion work well.  Vers de la grappe break the skins of the grapes, and that lead to problems with acetic notes.  I need realised but even organic insecticides are harmful to bees.  

Mildew is not usually problem either, with 2018 the one exception. Six kilos per hectare per year is the limit for copper; they rarely use more than 2 kilos, and in 2018 they totalled four kilos. Mildew apparently reduces the quantity but does not actually have a serious impact on quality; however it concentrates the ripening grapes, reducing the yield, and that is a problem.  An attack of mildew when the Grenache was in flower last year had a big impact.  

Oidium is not usually a problem, though old Carignan can be sensitive to it, but for that you can treat with copper.  Oidium dries up the grapes so that the berries cannot grow, and so they explode, and again that gives rise to bacterial problems.   

Essentially Didier works in the vineyard and Jen is the wine maker.  As for the name of the estate, Hirondelle is the name of their hill on the village cadastre.




2018 Roussanne Nébulo, Vin de France - 11.00€
Light golden colour. White blossom on the nose.  Rounded and a slightly bitter finish, but in a nice way.  Crisp and lightly herbal.  The wine is cold settled; there is no malo as they want to retain acidity, 

2017 
To compare.  This was much more ready.  Nicely balanced with good fruit and more depth.  It had lost its slightly bitter note, and had developed some satisfying nuances of flavour.

2018 Ventilo, Rosé, Vin de France
Pure Chenanson, which is a cross of Grenache Noir and Jurançon Noir.  Produced by INRA to help the cooperatives of the south, but it has never been accepted in any appellation  Orange pink colour. Quite rounded fruity nose.  Fresh acidity and some body.  They use free run juice  and there is no malo, so the skin contact time is about an hour.  The skins are very dark.  

2017
Orange pink colour.  Nicely mouth-filling.  The palate had developed some rounded fruit in a satisfying way, with a creamy finish.  Jen observed that their rosé is always better after a year.  I agreed.  

2014 Cocolico, Vin de France - 8.50€
A blend of Chenonçon, Grenache and Syrah.  Quite deep colour, with a ripe nose and a supple tannic streak on the palate, with rounded fruit.  About five days skin contact before pressing.  The first juice is used for rosé, to help give more concentration to the red wine.

2016 Cocolico 
A blend of  80% Chenonçon with Mourvèdre.  No wood.  Kept in vat.  Good colour.  More fruit on the nose and palate than the 2014, and more fleshy, with a hint of vanilla.  Quite a ripe juicy finish with more depth.

Oiseau 2013, Vin de France - 9.80€
A blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah - it could be Corbières, but they prefer to avoid the administrative hassle of an appellation.  No oak, but lots of bottle age.  Medium colour.  Rounded, supple spice on the nose and palate.  A certain dry leatheriness and a sympa rustic note.  The tannins comes from ripe pips.

2014 Carignan 1515 - 12.80€
The bottle of Marignan was fought in 1515 on the French Italian border.  Quite a deep young colour.  Firm berry fruit, with a sympathique rustic tannic streak and some peppery fruit.  Elevage in vat, apart from just one barrel.  They only make 1200 bottles of this altogether.  

2013 La Joupatière - 28.00€  
Named after a lieu-dit, a steam and the oldest vineyard in the village, surrounded by a stone wall.   The grape variety mix is extraordinary with Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Grand Noir de la Calmette, Ribeyrenc noir, Morastel Bouschet noir, Terret, Noir, Gris and Blanc, Chasselas, Olivette, which can also be a table grape, with the shape of an olive, and Valenci rose, as well as two varieties that they have been unable to identify.  The plot, just 40 ares,  was planted sometime towards the end of the 19th century, and some vines are on their own roots.   They literally saved it from being pulled up.  

Deep colour.  quite solid rounded nose.  Quite furry tannins. Ripe brambly fruit with firm tannin.  A rustic note on the finish, and wonderfully characterful.   They have a small basket press which they use for it, and then it goes into small vats.  the fermentation takes a couple of weeks.  

2012 is all drunk, so next came 2011 - a heady 15.5º  Quite a deep colour with dense ripe fruit. A juicy rounded palate, with some spice and mouth-filling flavours.  The labels have a mobilette, in memory of Léon the original owner, whose mode of transport was either a mobilette or a tractor.  

2010 - the first vintage.  Good deep colour.  The flavours are beginning to mature. with solid dense ripe fruit on the nose and quite sweet fruit on the palate.  Ripe, rich and dense, but not heavy.   Notes of chocolate.   Well balanced with a long finish.     

You sense that Jen and Didier are very happy producing a characterful and distinctive range of wines, with some wonderfully original labels designed by a friend.   They have no desire to grow any more. 

                         www.collinedelhirondelle.com









Saturday, 15 June 2019

Languedoc rosés



Provence has established such a reputation for its rosés, to the extent that 89%  of the region’s three key appellations of Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois-en-Provence production is now pink.  Even the appellation of Bandol, with wonderful age worthy red wines based on Mourvèdre, makes as much as one third rosé.   However the Languedoc produces more rosé than any other region of France, and is looking to challenge Provence in quality.  Pays d’Oc alone accounts for 26.4 % of the total French rosé production, while the additional wines from the rest of the Languedoc, both appellations and IGPs, push that percentage up to 37.6%.

The Comité des Vins du Languedoc organised a tasting for me in early April.  There were 72 wines, covering the whole region, from Sommières to Limoux, including some IGPs, but for logistical reasons, no Pays d’Oc.  Those will be coming next.  All the wines, except the Limoux,  came from the 2018 vintage.   The prices are TTC in France, but I have given UK importers where appropriate.  I have included any blends and relevant technical information supplied by the producer. 

My fellow tasters were Liz Gabay MW, author of an all-embracing book on the world’s rosés, and Emma Kershaw who runs wine and food matching courses from her home, La Maison du Rire, in the Corbières.    The notes that follow are mine alone.  Essentially I have devised the wines into four categories

****  I will drink this with enormous pleasure  - a coup de coeur

***    A enjoyable glass of wine

**     Perfectly acceptable drinking,  but not exciting

*      Disappointing; would prefer to ignore.  

There were a couple of faulty wines, with no second bottle back up, which I have omitted.  And I have also left out the wines to which I would give a single *, preferring to criticise by omission.  

Things to consider when tasting rosé.  How influenced are you by colour?   Are they wines to be drunk by the swimming pool in warm Languedoc sunshine?  Do they make a refreshing aperitif or are they what the French would call rosés gastronomiques, wines with some weight and structure which allow them to accompany a salade niçoise or even barbecued rack of lamb?    Sometimes a wine can quite easily fulfil both functions.   It all depends on your mood and I think the enjoyment of rosé is almost more mood related than any other wine, and certainly more weather related.   Rosé in the pouring rain somehow does not quite do it for me!    Though it does not necessarily have to be a purely summer wine.   

Rosés are very much influenced by their winemaking.   And some winemakers will say that they are more difficult to make than either red or white.  Colour is critical, but winemaking can easy alter a colour that is too deep.  But the colour should not be so pale as to look white.   Selected yeast can also influence flavour.  Are the grapes pressed directly, pressurage direct, so that the only skin contact is in the press?  Or is the vat bled, saigné, so that the skin contact might be a little longer?  And then the  rest of the vat will be used for red wine.   Are the grape picked specifically for rosé, and therefore probably earlier than would be best for red wine?  Best avoided are wines that are redolent of amylic acid, what the French so politely refer to as bonbons anglais or boiled sweets!   These tend to be very young wines, that have barely finished fermenting.   Is oak an aspect of winemaking for a rosé?  And can rosé age?

As for the choice of grape varieties, you might have expected Cinsaut to dominate, but that did not seem to be the case.   Grenache and Syrah were also generously included; there was Mourvèdre too, but very little Carignan.  Presumably its tannins do not make for an elegant rosé.  Further west in Cabardes and Malepère, Cabernet and Merlot feature.  Most Languedoc rosé also allows 10% of white grapes, which must be co-fermented, and certainly must not blended.   

The 2018 vintage was produced some good rosé.  The spring was cool, and also quite wet, making for good water reserves.   And the summer was generally fine, with good weather during the harvest.   

We tasted the wines in geographical order, beginning with Crémant de Limoux and then after the Languedoc appellation, travelled gently east to west, from Sommières to Malepère.  I have described the wines in the order in which they were tasted.   

Is there a Languedoc character as opposed to a Provencal character.  Liz suggested more saline and mineral flavours, rather than Provencal black fruit.   I think what surprised me was the diversity of flavours and styles, though I may be guilty of over-using the word raspberry!

2017 Château Rives Blanques  Crémant de Limoux  - 13.50€    **** 
Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac and 3% Pinot Noir  - 24 months sur lattes
Good mousse.  Pale pink orange colour.  Delicate light red fruit on the nose.  Fresh dry fruit with hints of raspberry on the palate; elegant and fresh and nicely balanced.   A great start to the tasting.  

2017 Domaine Delmas, Crémant de Limoux, Cuvée Séduction Brut - 13.00€   **
Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir
Minimum of 18 months sur lattes.
Quite a deep pink red.,  A full rounded nose; quite vinous.  And on the palate rounded and solid, vinous and heavy, with a dry finish.  Not very elegant.

2018 Domaine Rosier, Crémant de Limoux, Ma Maison - 11.00€  **
70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir  12 months sur lattes
Imported by Ellis of Richmond
Pink orange colour.  Soft rounded nose, with a hint of raspberry and strawberry.  Rounded ripe palate; tastes quite sweet, as though the dosage is a little out of balance. 

2017 Domaine Rosier, Crémant de Limoux, Terre de Villelongue - 12.00€ **
Bright light pink.  Quite a soft nose, rounded with raspberry fruit.  Rounded palate with a soft finish.  Easy drinking, more elegant than the previous wine, but again quite a sweet finish.  

2017 Domaine J. Laurens. Crémant de Limoux, La Rose No 7 - 11.10€  ****
60% Chardonnay 25% Chenin Blanc, 15% Pinot Noir - 12 months sur lattes
Boutinot Wines; Roberson Wines
Pale orange pink; a very delicate colour.   Delicate nose; fresh and dry.  An elegant palate with dry raspberry fruit.  Fresh, elegant and lightly creamy finish.  A lovely glass of sparkling rosé.

Maison Antech 2017, Crémant de Limoux, Emotion Brut  - 10.95€  ****
Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac, Pinot Noir.  Light maceration of the Pinot Noir to give some colour.  12 months sur lattes.
Flint Wines
Light pretty pink.   Quite a firm dry nose, with quite a solid rounded palate.  Good depth, body and weight.  Rounded and ripe.   Nicely balanced.  

Sieur d’Arques, 2018 Crémant de Limoux, Aimery Rosé  **
From the large Limoux cooperative.   Light pink orange colour.  Quite a firm dry nose, with rounded soft fruit on the palate.  Rounded, mouth-filling and ripe, with some dosage. Easy drinking.  

And now for the still wines.  

Vignobles Lorgeril, 2018 Languedoc, Assemblages Terres Blanches - 8.00€  ***
60% Grenache, 20% Cinsaut, 20% Syrah.  Direct pressing; cool fermentation with selected yeast.  Aged on lees.   
Pale pink colour.  Soft dry nose and on the palate some soft easy fruit, balanced with some acidity.  No great depth, but good value and well made.  

Carmel et Joseph, 2018  Languedoc, AMS TRAM GRAM Cérès - 11.00€  ***
30% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 50% Cinsaut.  Careful winemaking, with the Grenache picked at optimum ripeness and the Cinsaut and Mourvèdre to retain acidity.  No malo.  A two hour maceration and a cool fermentation.  
Daniel Lambert Wines
Light bright pink.  Fresh, light herbal notes on the palate.  Fresh firm palate, dry rather than crisp, with good weight and a rounded finish.  

Gérard Bertrand, 2018 Languedoc, Côte des Roses  - 6.90€  ***
60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsaut.  Careful pressing to keep only the first and best juice.  Cool fermentation.  Early bottling. 
Hallgarten Wines
Pale pink orange.  Light fresh fruit on nose and palate, with a soft rounded finish.  Very easy drinking.

Gérard Bertrand, 2018 Languedoc, Hampton Water - 15.00€ ***
Mainly Grenache, Cinsaut and Mourvèdre.  A section of the best plots, with the grapes picked at optimum ripeness. Careful pressing and settling.
Hallgarten Wines
Pale pink orange.  Firm dry fruit, dry raspberries.  Quite a firm palate, structured.  Some acidity; some elegant weight and a rounded, slightly cloying finish.   Quite expensive for what it is. 

Hecht et Bannier, 2018 Languedoc - 7.90€  ***
40% Syrah, 35% Cinsaut, 25% Grenache 
Pale pink. light nose; easy dry fresh fruit.  No great depth but not expensive.  Easy drinking.

Château Signac, IGP Coteaux du Pont du Gard, 2018 Le Rosé - 5.00€ ***
70% Grenache with 30% Cinsaut.  Direct pressing. 
Light pink.  Firm dry, lightly herbal nose and fresh dry raspberry fruit on the palate.  No great depth, but easy drinking and very good value.  

Mas des Cabres, 2018 Languedoc, Estive - 7.50€  **
Light pink.  A somewhat off-putting nose.  almost a hint of burnt rubber, but the palate was much nicer, with some delicate raspberry fruit and nicely balanced structure.   I was a tad confused by it.  This is AOP Languedoc, rather than Sommières, as the Sommières appellation does not include rosé.

Château Puech-Haut, Languedoc, 2018 Tête de Belier - 15.00€  ***
Puech-Haut is the leading estate of St Drézery, a small area in the eastern Languedoc.  90% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache.  Light pink with a structured nose, with fresh fruit.  Quite rounded palate, with structure, even some tannin and some weight.  Quite a vinous finish.  Definitely a food rosé.  

Domaine Clavel, 2018 Pic St Loup, Mescladis - 9.60€ - ****
A blend of 70% Syrah, 15% Grenache and 15% Mourvèdre.  Direct pressing.  Ageing on fine lees.
Quite a positive pink,  Rounded ripe fruit on both nose and palate.  Rounded and vinous, with some balancing acidity.  Some weight in the mouth.  A satisfying food rosé.  Bring on the salade niçoise!  

Château Puech-Haut, 2018 Pic St Loup, la Closerie du Pic - 13.00€  ****
70% Grenache to 30% Syrah.   Direct pressing.  An interesting contrast with the producer’s previous wine, with a contrasting blend.  St. Drézery is very close to the Pic St Loup as the crow flies.   Light pink red colour.  Light fresh red fruit on the nose, and nicely rounded and harmonious on the palate, with quite a soft finish.   Another food wine.  

Domaine de l’Hortus, 2018 Bergerie de l’Hortus - 12.90€  ***
Very pale pink orange.  A touch amylic on the nose, with some raspberry fruit.  Quite rounded palate, with supple fruit, with a soft but dry finish.  Lightly mouth filling and creamy.

Château de l’Engarran, 2018 Languedoc, les Angelots - 8.00€  **
89% Grenache, 11% Cinsaut. Vinification parcellaire; a rosé de pressurage
Pale orange pink, a touch amylic on the nose; quite fresh on the palate, but a touch stalky on the finish.

Château de l’Engarran, 2018 St Georges d’Orques - 9.50€ ****
A blend 80% Grenache with 20% Cinsaut.  
Imperial Wine Co. 
This is much more serious and elegant than the previous wine.  A pale orange pink.  Light fruit on the nose.  Quite a rounded palate; quite soft and ripe,with a dry finish.  Lightly vinous on the finish.  A food rosé.  Château de l’Engarran is one of the leading estates of St Georges d’Orques and is well worth a visit on an open day for its wonderful gardens.  

Clos des Nines, 2018 Languedoc, Niño - 9.00€  ****
I know this property by name, but have never visited, but this rosé would certainly encourage me to do.  Light pretty pink; herbal notes on the nose.  Elegant fruit on the palate.  Medium weight, lightly structured and nicely balanced.   

Domaine du Pin, IGP St Guilhem le Désert, 2018 Maé Rosé - 7.00€   ****
Light pink.  Light fresh fruit on nose and palate, with some herbal notes and red fruit.  Quite a rounded palate, making for easy drinking.  Good value.   Not an estate with which I am familiar.   Now on the list to visit.

Mas d’Agamas, IGP St Guilhem le Désert, 2018 Mourvèdre Rosé - 7.00€  ***
100% Mourvèdre, and for that one of the more original wines of the tasting.  A little more colour than some.  Quite a firm, structured nose, with red fruit both on nose and palate.   Structured palate, from the pure Mourvèdre, with a rounded finish.  A food rosé and nicely satisfying.  

Mas Combarèla, 2018 Languedoc, Des Si et Des Mi - 10.00€  ****
45% Grenache, 45% Cinsaut, 10% Mourvèdre.  Direct pressing
Light orange pink colour. Light fresh fruit on both nose and palate.  Rounded and supple with fresh acidity and a creamy finish.  Quite elegant.   From one of the newer estates, and rising stars of the Terrasses du Larzac.  

Vignobles Jeanjean.  2018 Languedoc, L’Audacieux - 12.50€  ***
70% Grenache Noir, 20% Syrah, 10% Carignan.  Picked at night.  direct pressing.  Some lees contact.
Enotria
Light pink, Quite firm raspberry  fruit.  Quite a structure palate,, with firm acidity and a dry finish.  A food rosé, but I was not sure that it was that audacious! 

Gérard Bertrand, 2018 Languedoc, la Villa - 45.00€  **** 
This comes from one of Gerard Bertrand’s more recent acquisitions, the Terrasses du Larzac estate of la Sauvageonne.  And it is certainly one of the more audacious rosés of the Languedoc, not only for price but also for winemaking techniques.   Notably the grape variety blend includes white grapes, Viognier and Vermentino, which are co-fermented with Grenache; there is also some Mourvèdre.   The fermentation begins in vat and finishes in barrel.  

A very delicate pale colour.   And a delicate nose and palate.  It is all very understated, as though the wine is hiding its light under a bushel, and yet the palate has elegant concentration and length, with a nicely rounded finish.   The oak is well integrated, just subtly adding weight and balance.   There is no doubt that it is an imaginative and inventive interpretation of rosé and rumour has it that Gérard is working on something even more demanding and audacious.  

Les Vignerons de Florensac, IGP Côtes de Thau, 2018 Bleu Blanc Thau **
A blend of Cinsaut and Merlot, from one of the key cooperatives of the Côtes de Thau.  Direct pressing.   
Alliance Wine
Pale orange pink.  A rather dry stalky nose. solid rounded fruit, but a hard act to follow after la Villa.   

Domaine Monplézy, 2018 Languedoc, Emocion - 12.00€  ****
40% Cinsaut, 40% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  Organic.  One month ageing French oak barrels. 
Pale pink colour. Quite a rounded nose that develops in the glass.  Quite rounded herbal notes on the palate.  Quite vinous and almost sweet on the finish.  I wondered if there was any residual sugar, but maybe it was a touch of vanilla from the oak ageing. A food rosé with some weight.    Anne Sutra de Germa’s son, Benoît, has worked in Provence, and this is one of the leading estates around Pézenas.  

Domaine Costes-Rouges, 2018 Languedoc, Virginie - 6.25€  ***
Pale pink.  Quite a dry nose, a touch amylic.  Quite firm dry fruit, dry and herbal, with a rounded finish.   From an estate near Pézenas.  

Domaine de Campaucels, 2018 IGP Pays de l’Hérault, Pie Grieche - 7.00€ ***
An original blend of 95% Piquepoul Noir and 5% Cinsaut.  Direct pressing.  
Very pale pink.  Light fruit on the nose and palate with fresh acidity.  Some berry fruit, with a saline finish.

Domaine Savary de Beauregrd, IGP Pays de l’Hérault, Cuvée Mathilde - 7.50€  ***
Pure Grenache.  Light pink colour. Quite rounded ripe raspberry nose.  A ripe rounded palate, with a dry berry fruit.  Nicely rounded finish.  Easy drinking.

Domaine de l’Arjolle, IGP Côtes de Thongue, 2018 Equilibre - 8.00€  ***
60% Syrah to 40% Cabernet. 
The Wine Society
Pink colour.  Rounded herbal nose.  Quite firm, almost tannic fruit on the palate, with some firm acidity.  Quite taut.  Medium weight.   From a large family estate in one of the more interesting IGPs of the Languedoc, as there is no parallel appellation.  

Domaine Montrose, IGP Côtes de Thongue, 2018 Rosé - 7.00€  ***
65% Grenache, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah.   Justerini & Brooks.   
This is an estate that has made something of a speciality out of rosé.    And so our tasting included three wines, and three different quality levels.  Night time harvesting to preserve freshness.   Direct pressing, or short skin contact. 
Pale colour.  Delicate list fruit.  Quite easy, fresh fruit.  Light creamy and easy drinking. 

Domaine Montrose, IGP Côtes de Thongue, 2018 Rosé Prestige - 11.00€  ****
An unusual blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Rolle or Vermentino.  Saigné and a cool fermentation.  A small proportion is fermented and aged in barrel.  Pale pink.  Some weight on the palate, rounded with ripe creamy fruit and a dry finish.  Quite elegant.  My favourite of the three.  

Domaine Montrose, IGP Côtes de Thongue, 2018 1701 Rosé - 19.00€  **
A blend of 90% Grenache with 10% Roussanne.  Direct pressing.  Part aged stainless steel vats and part in new French oak barrels for five months.  Sadly, although it was the most expensive of the three wines from Domaine Montrose, it was also the most disappointing as the new oak was too overpowering, making for buttery vanilla notes onto nose.  The palate was rather solid and heavy and lacked charm.  Maybe it would be better with some food.  

Domaine la Croix Belle, IGP Côtes de Thongue, 2018 Le Champs des Grillons - 8.70€  **   
40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon 
The Wine Society
Light colour. Light fruit.  A touch amylic.  And quite a firm finish.  Their entry level rosé and it lacks the charm of the next wine.  Just bottled and probably needs to settle down.   From another important family estate of the Côtes de Thongue

Domaine la Croix Belle, IGP Côtes de Thongue, 2018 No 7 Rosé - 16.50€  ****
The companion of No 7 red and white, and named for its seven grape varieties.   50% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache Noir, 10% Syrah, 8% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Carignan.  Both direct pressing and saigné depending on the grape variety.  Friarwood Fine Wine 
Light colour.  Rounded delicate nose.  Some weight on palate with some rounded red fruit.  Lots of nuances, with good depth and length.  A very satisfying food rosé.  

Domaine de la Barthe, Coteaux de Béziers - 6.50€  ***
Pure Syrah and a rosé de saigné.  Six months in vat.  Quite a bright pink with fresh fruit on both nose and palate.  Nicely rounded ripe fruit.  Easy drinking and good value.  

Domaine les Serrals, Faugères, Pimprenelle - 8.50€ ****
From one of the newer estates of Faugères.  Frédéric Almazor and Chloé Barthet made their first wine in 2016.  Pimprenelle is a flower that you often find in the vineyards.  40% each of Mourvèdre and Grenache with 20% Cinsaut.  Rosé de pressurage with a cool fermentation and natural yeast.  No fining.  Six months in vat.  Pale pink.  Light fresh nose, and quite crisp on the palate; fresh red fruit; quite stony with good acidity, from the schist of Faugères, and a firm finish.

Château Estanilles, Faugères, L'Impertinent  - 11.50€ ****
A blend of 45% Cinsaut and 45% Grenache with 10% Mourvèdre.  50% pressed and 50% saigné;  on the fine lees in tank for six months.
Pale orange pink.  Some herbal notes on both nose and palate.  Quite rounded palate with some weight.  Red fruit. Intriguing nuances and good mouthfeel.  A satisfying ripe finish.  A food rosé.

Château la Dournie, St Chinian, le Classic Rosé - 7.90€  ***
A blend of equal parts of Syrah and Grenache.  Pressurage à froid and a cool fermentation.  
Light pink orange color.  Quite fresh herbal fruit.  Nicely rounded creamy palate.  Rounded dry finish. Medium weight.  Quite easy drinking.   

Clos Bagatelle, Le Secret, St Chinian - 13.00€ ****
A blend of 50% Mourvèdre, 40% Cinsaut and 10% Grenache.  Saigné and then blended.  Fermented at a low temperature in barrels that had previously been used for Pinot Noir and then aged for three months in barrel with regular daily bâtonnage during the first month.   Light pink.  Light red fruit on the nose.  Rounded and harmonious; soft and creamy.  The oak is very well integrated.  Nicely balanced finish, soft but with acidity,   Very satisfying.   From one of the older, more established estates of St Chinian.  
   
Cave de Roquebrun, Col de l’Orb, St Chinian - 7.20€  ****
A blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache.  From the coop that dominates the production of the St Chinian cru of Roquebrun.  Some skin maceration and a long fermentation at a controlled temperature.   
Light pink. firm dry fruit on the nose, and fresh fruit balanced by good acidity on the palate.  Quite taut with a firm finish.  A complete contrast from Le Secret of Clos Bagatelle.

Cave de Roquebrun, Chemin des Olivettes, St Chinian  ***
A blend of 50% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 15% Cinsaut.  Some skin contact.  A long fermentation.  Very bright pink.  Fresh dry fruit on the nose, and on the palate, quite solid and rounded with dry ripe fruit and a firm finish.   


Domaine de Saint Cels, Sous les Pons, St Chinian  - 6.50€  ***
A blend of equal parts of Syrtah and Grenache.  Pressed.  Light orange colour.  Quite a rounded nose.  Lightly rounded, supple fruit.  Easy drinking.  Good value. 

Laurent  Miguel, Chateau Cazal Viel Clos du Vent, St Chinian  - 12.00€  ***
A blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Cinsaut.  Yeast selection and temperature controlled fermentation, taking 25 days.  
Very pale orange pink.  Rounded fruit on the nose and a ripe, textured palate, with some acidity.   Some garrigues notes.  Nicely satisfying.  

Laurent Miguel, Auzines, Languedoc - 9.95€   ***
40% Syrah with 30% each of Grenache and Cinsaut.  From the Corbières hills.  Harvested at night.  Careful selection of the juice and cold settling.  Fermentation and ageing in stainless steel tanks.
Stocked in the UK by various independent retailers.
Pale pink.  Quite rounded fruit on the nose.  Supple herbal notes on the palate.  A touch amylic, but that will probably disappear.  Quite intriguing.  

Vignobles Bonfils, Capitoul rosé,  Languedoc - 12.00€   ***
A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  Harvested at night.  The Grenache is pressed and the Syrah saigné, away from oxygen. 
Quite rounded nose and a ripe supple palate.  Easy fruit and easier drinking than the next wine, making an interesting contrast.  

Vignobles Bonfils, Capitoul, Oros  Languedoc  15.20€  ***
80% Grenache to 20% Syrah.   Picked at night and then pressed directly, protected from oxygen.  Aged on the fine lees.   From vineyards on la Clape.  Once focussing on negotiant activity, Bonfils are now one of the larger vineyard owners of the Languedoc and have recently bought the La Clape estate, Château Capitoul.  
Light pink.  Quite firm fresh fruit on both nose and palate.  Quite crisp.  Firm fresh red raspberry fruit.  Nicely structured.  A food rosé.

La Combe Saint-Paul, les Amandiers, Languedoc - 7.00€  **
A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah.  Pressed and fermented at a low temperature.   
Pale pink colour.  Fresh dry fruit; quite a firm nose and more round on the palate.  Medium weight and quite easy drinking with a dry raspberry finish.  From a relatively new, and  successful la Clape estate.  

Famille Fabre, Cuvée de Jumelles, Corbières - 9.00€ ***
From one of the larger producers of Corbières.  Picked at night to retain aroma.  The Grenache is pressed.  Short maceration for the Cinsaut.  
UK importer Label Bouchon
Very pale pink.  Quite soft and rounded on both nose and palate.  Ripe easy fruit, with some weight and texture.  A soft finish.  Easy drinking. 

Les Domaines Auriol, Château Cicéron in Memoriam - 12.00€  ***
60% Syrah to 40% Grenache.  Harvested in the early morning to retain the freshness of the fruit.  Pressed; only the best juice is used.   Syrah and Grenache fermented together at a low temperature.   Just 10% aged in French oak.   
Pale pink.  A touch amylic on the nose.  Rounded ripe fruit on the palate, with some texture, possibly from the touch of oak, with supple fruit and some weight.   I much preferred the palate to the nose.  A food rosé.

Château Beauregard Mirouze, Campana, Corbières - 8.50€  ****
A blend of 50% Cinsaut, 40% Syrah and 10% Grenache.   Saigné and fermented in concrete tank.  
Ten Acre in Essex
L’Art du Vin in Dumferline
Pale orange pink.  Quite firm, dry herbal nose and palate.   A fresh palate, with fresh fruit and a good balance and an elegant finish.  Good value.

Château de Caraguilhes, Cara de Caraguilhes, Corbières - 13.00€  **
70% Grenache Noir and 30% Mourvèdre.  Pressed.  
Light pale pink.  A bit amylic on both nose and palate.  Quite soft and rounded.  Expensive for what it is.   

Domaine de la Cendrillon, Minuit, Corbières - 9.20€  ****
A blend fo 50% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache and 25% Cinsault.  Hand-harvested.  Each variety pressed separately and fermented in tank at 15C.
Tanners of Shrewsbury
Pale pink orange. Quite firm fresh fruit on the nose, and on the palate a nice salty tang.  Fresh from fruit and nicely balanced with acidity.

Château de Treviac, Corbières - 7.50€  **
A blend of 60% Cinsaut and 40% Grenache.   Light pink. Quite rounded ripe raspberry nose and palate.  Some acidity but quite heavy and vinous compared to some.   There did not seem to be any common thread to the various Corbières.  

Domaine Pujol, Vieilles Vignes, Minervois - 5.70€  **
A blend of 50% Syrah, with 25% each of Cinsaut and Grenache.  Some lees stirring.
Very pale pink.  A rather amylic nose with boiled sweets on both nose and palate.  Some rounded fruit on the finish.  

Khalkha Pamies, Kalys’é, Minervois - 14.00€   ***
A blend fo 80% Grenache to 20% Cinsaut  Saigné and fermented  tank.  
Pale colour, barely pink.  Quite a firm nose; quite structured on the palate with some acidity and rounded raspberry fruit.  Quite fresh firm finish.  Nicely elegant.  

Château Sainte Eulalie, Printemps d’Eulalie, Minervois - 6.30€  ****
25% each of Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsaut and Grenache.  Machine picked; sorted and saigné.  cool fermentation.
The Wine Society
Light pretty pink.  A rounded nose with raspberry fruit, and on the palate, rounded and ripe. Nicely textured with some structure and a firm dry finish.  Very good value.  More of a food rosé. 

Domaine La Tour Boisée, Une Histoire de Famille, Minervois - 18.50€  ***
60% Grenache with 30% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah,  Hand picked; destemmed and a very slow extraction with just one pump over.  ‘Patience ensures soft tannins’.   Aged in cement vat on the fine lees.
Some colour; orange pink.  Quite a firm dry nose and palate.  Dry herbal fruit.  ripe and rounded and vinous, but with an elegant finish.   Very characterful!     From a well established  family estate in the village of Laure-Minervois.  

Château Cabezac, Minervois - 9.50€  ***
Grenache and Syrah.  Pressed.
Delibo Wine Agencies, Church Hanborough
Light orange pink.   Quite a firm fresh dry nose.  Fresh fruit on the palate.  Raspberry with a creamy finish.  Nicely undemanding drinking, but quite expensive for that.  

Flo Roucarels, Haute Vallée de l’Aude, Petite Rive - 7.00€   ***
Pure Grenache, from a cooler part of Limoux.   Pressed.  Very pale pink.  Fresh dry fruit on nose and palate.  Medium weight.  Firm fruit with a rounded finish.

Château Ventenac, Cuvée Diane, Cabardès - 8.50€  ***
A blend of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Malbec.  Pneumatic press using the first juice.  Cold stabilisation.  Fermentation at 18C in stainless steel vats.  No malo-lactic fermentation.  Kept on lees for two months.
Pale orange.  Soft and rounded on both nose and palate.  Ripe fruit making for easy drinking, with balancing acidity.  

Vignobles Lorgeril, Série Limitée, Cabardès - 10.70€  ****
A blend fo 40% Merlot, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Cinsaut.  Rosé de saigné.  Cool fermentation.
Light pink.  Light fruit on the palate. quite rounded textured palate. with some weight and  acidity and a fresh finish.  

Château de Pennautier, Classique, Cabardès - 7.50€  ***
40% Merlot, 30% Grenache, 20% Cinsaut and 10% Syrah.  Rosé de saigné.  Cool fermentation.   
Light pink. Firm dry fresh fruit on nosed palate.  Fresh and juice with a little weight and refreshing acidity on the finish.  

Château Jouclary, Cabardès - 6.50€  **
A blend of 40% each Cabernet Franc, Grenache, and 10% each of Syrah and Cinsaut.  Pressurage direct and a cool fermentation.   From one of the long established estates of Cabardès.  
Terry Herbert, Yorkshire.   
Pale pink, a bit amylic on the nose, with some dry fruit on the palate.  A touch of boiled sweets and some acidity.  

Château Guilhem, Prestige, Malepère - 10.00€  ***
A blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  Saigné.  Fermented at  18C.
European Food Brokers
Pale pink.  Quite a firm dry fresh nose and palate.  Firm fruit on the palate; notes of raspberry, with some structure and fresh acidity.