Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Languedoc and the Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen are a group of young dynamic wine importers.  They held a tasting recently, so I went along to see what was on offer from the Languedoc.  Some specialise in Italy, Spain or Burgundy, so I am afraid that I ignored them altogether, but from others I found some interesting offerings.

Clark Foyster Wines :

2011 la Coume Mas, Mas Cristine, Côtes du Roussillon
Quite a deep colour.  A ripe rounded nose and palate.  Lots of cherry fruit from the Grenache, balanced with a streak of tannin, and a ripe finish.  Very warming.

Roberson Wine:
Roberson’s are always a great source of Languedoc wines, as it is one of  Mark Andrew’s particular enthusiasms. 

2011 Domaine Laurens, Crémant de Limoux.   Graimenous  - £13.95
A blend of Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac.  A lovely creamy glass of wine, rich and rounded, with some notes of yeast autolysis.  Delicious.

2012 Mas Coutelou, Vin des Amis  - £12.95
Light fresh fruit on nose and palate.  Very refreshing with some acidity and an appealing lift on the finish.  This was also amongst the Absolutely Cracking French wines.

2004 Domaine Peyre Rose, Clos des Cistes.- £64.95
This was serious.  Rich dense and leathery on the nose and on the palate, rounded ripe and concentrated, but also harmonious.  Still some firm tannins, but also some notes of maturity.  A very satisfying mouthful.  Very serious and also expensive.

2003 Domaine de Trévallon, Bouches du Rhone  - £54.95
I’m straying into Provence here, but who could resist the opportunity to taste Trévallon.  In fact I found that this wine was suffering from the hot vintage.  There were some tarry tannins, and some rich sweet fruit, but the whole was not very harmonious.  Not Trévallon at its best.

Mark was also enthusing about his new Bandol, so I tried that too.

2012 Domaine Maubernard, rosé.  - £16.95 The neighbours are the famed Bandol estate, Domaine de Pibarnon, so vineyards on a good site.   A very pale delicate colour.  A delicate nose, with some dry fresh fruit on the palate.  Initially quite ethereal, but with an unexpected streak of flavour.

2009 Bandol Rouge, Domaine Maubernard. - £16.95
Light red colour.  Elegant leathery fruit on the palate.  Rounded palate, ripe and  nicely understated.  Quite an elegant finish.

Vine Trail were showing wines from Domaine La Grange de Quatre Sous.

2011 Le Jeu du Mail  Pays d’Oc
A blend of Viognier and Marsanne,, aged mainly in large wood with just one barrique.  Quite a rich apply nose, with more depth on the palate.  Good texture and some rich fruit.

2011 La Grange des Quatre Sous, Garsinde, Pays d’Oc
Another intriguing blend of Malbec 60% , Syrah  25% and Cabernet Franc 15%
Quite a deep young colour.  Firm ripe fruit on the nose, and on the palate.  Ripe and concentrated, with rounded fruit and balancing tannins.   Youthful with lots of nuances.  Some ageing potential.

They also have Domaine de Cebène’s Faugères, les Bancèls, with its lovely spicy fruit.  Finely crafted and sunshine in a glass.

Indigo Wine  have taken on  Catherine Roque’s wines, so I had to check out her Viognier, les Aires, and the Faugères, le Presbytère, with its peppery fruit.

And as well they were showing a good Corbières estate,

2011 Clos Perdus, Corbières, Cuvee 91
Carignan dominate, with some Grenache and Mourvèdre.  I thought there was a touch of brett on the nose, or it was just a bit viandé. But the palate is characterful and rich and gutsy, with some firm tannins and some ripe fruit, and a slightly sweet note on the finish.  A wine with an attitude.

I had not come across Aubert & Mascoli before, so was delighted to see that they had a wine from Domaine Fontedicto, namely 2003 Promise, Coteaux du Languedoc.   It was fascinating to try a wine that was ten years old, but I felt that the bottle had suffered with constant pouring.  The flavour was rather leathery and losing its freshness.  Younger would have been better.

And then there was a new estate:
2010 Domaine des 2 Anes, Corbières, Fontanilles
Apparently they are on the coast at Peyriac.  A blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah.  Medium colour.  Fresh spicy fruit on the nose.  Medium weight palate, with some lovely spicy fruit and a fresh finish.

2010 Ocre Rouge, Chardonnay
This comes from an estate outside Dions, just north of Nimes in the Gorges du Gardon.   I tend to avoid Chardonnay from the Midi, but it is refreshing to have one’s prejudices overturned every so often.  This had some fresh fruit, with good acidity, and did not taste like a southern Chardonnay.

The Wine Treasury  had a pair of wines from Roussillon, labelled Consolation

2011 Juliette, Roussanne.  Quite rich and leafy and on the palate, some oak but textured layers.  A touch too much oak for my taste.  I didn’t like this as much as at the Absolutely Cracking Wines of France tasting.  Shows how wines and tastebuds can change from day to day.

The red version, Wild Boar Syrah, was deep in colour, with a rich nose and some ripe spicy rounded fruit, and some orange notes on the finish.  Quite warming.

And finishing with H2Vin, there were a pair of Corsicans, 

2011 Domaine San Armettu, Sartène rouge
Light colour.  A touch bretty on the nose.  I preferred the palate which was quite ripe with some dry leathery notes.

And Clos Canarelli, Figari blanc.  Light herbal notes on both nose and palate, with a rounded finish.  Initially it seemed quite delicate, but with a ripe finish.

2011 Domaine de l’Oustal blanc  Naïck

This estate is in the Minervois, but the wine is Vin de France;  I am not sure why.  It is a blend of Carignan and Syrah, supported by Cinsaut and Grenache and was rich and spicy on both nose and palate, with some confit notes on the finish.  A rich gutsy wine from wild scenery. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Languedoc and the Wine Society

The Wine Society has just held a tasting to show off some of the new wines on their Christmas List.  And the Languedoc was nicely represented.

2011 Chateau Rouquette-sur-Mer, la Clape Rouge, l’Esprit Terroir  - £10.50

Mostly Mourvèdre and Syrah with some Carignan and Grenache.   Refreshingly unoaked, with a bouquet of ripe red fruit and spice, and on the palate, more brambly black fruit, with supple and balancing tannins.  A lovely mouthful of sunshine for a winter’s evening.

2011 La Reserve d’O, Saint Saturnin, Bilbo.  - £10.95
A Grenache Syrah blend from vines grown above the village of Arboras at 400 metres.   Quite an evolved colour for a young wine.  The Grenache provides ripe spice and liqueur cherries, while the Syrah gives some backbone, with a fresh finish.   Marie Chauffray’s wine-making entails minimal intervention.   I’ve definitely ear-marked her for a visit.

2011 Montpeyroux, Initiale de Divem. - £14.95

This is a heady mouthful.  Deep colour.  The nose is quite firm and the palate ripe and concentrated with black fruit galore and a sweet finish.  It tasted surprisingly portlike, and then I looked at the alcohol level – 15.5!  So for a port that is not a port.  But it’s is a tad too alcoholic for my taste, but certainly not lacking in character. 

And there were also a pair of South African wines, from Swartland, entitled A Fistful of Schist, which caught my attention, for the schist soils of Faugères.  The red was particularly appealing.  A blend of Shiraz, Cinsaut and Mourvèdre, with a ripe rounded nose and soft spicy fruit on the palate.  It was the Cinsaut that seemed to dominate the flavour rather than Syrah or Mourvèdre. And very appealing it was too. And only £6.50.   The white version was Chenin blanc, with some ripe honey on the palate.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Languedoc at the Bunch tasting

The Bunch are a group of six dynamic independent wine merchants, namely Adnams, Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow, Lea & Sandeman, Tanners and Yapp Brothers.  They hold an annual press tasting, which is always well worth attending, as you know the wines will be exciting.  You may not necessarily like them, but they will have a personality and an attitude.   Sadly the Languedoc did not get that much of a look in this year, but of the four wines from the region, I liked three enormously. 

From Corney & Barrow there was a 2012 Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Morin Langaran – £8.95

This is a new name to me; the label says that they are in Mèze.  It had that pithy, salty, sappy quality that all good Picpoul should have, that immediately makes you think of the sea, and demands an oyster or a dozen by way of accompaniment.  Deliciously refreshing and characterful

Yapp Brothers showed 2011 Pic St. Loup, Mas Bruguière, l’Arbouse.  - £14.50

This was Pic St. Loup at its most elegant.  Medium depth of colour.  Some firm mineral stony fruit, with a touch of red fruit, and on the palate rounded fruit, with balanced tannins and a satisfying mineral note.  Pic St. Loup should be one of the more elegant appellations of the Languedoc, and this certainly is.  I’ve not visited this estate for a while – it’s on the list.     Xavier Bruguière has taken over from his father and is now working organically. 

Adnams had a Costières de Nimes that was also new to me, Domaine de la Cadenette, 2012 for £7.99, which is brilliant value.  I always think of Costières de Nimes as the Beaujolais of the Languedoc, the wine that provides straightforward appealing fruit for easy drinking.  And that is just what this does, with some  spicy red fruit and supple tannins.  Or to quote Rob Chase from Adnams, it has the elegance of Provence, the ripeness of the Rhone and the wild card element of the Languedoc.  I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Absolutely Cracking Wines from France 2013

I love going to this tasting.  For a start they have taken to holding it at the top of Centre Point, which rates as one of the most hideous buildings in London, but the view from the 31st floor is pretty breathtaking.   Some forty members of the press and another dozen or so sommeliers are asked to choose a favourite wine in three price categories, so you know that all the wines that you are going to taste are wines that somebody really rates and enjoys.  It makes for a great tasting.   And there were lots of goodies from the Languedoc.  So what follows are my highlights:

Picpoul Frisant, Pays d’Oc, Domaines Paul Mas  -  £9.00  Laytons
Not a highlight, but worth a comment.  I love still Picpoul but I am afraid that I do not see the point of fizzy Picpoul.  It has too much character to accommodate the bubbles. With an earthy salty quality, I thought this would make quite a nice still wine, but with the bubbles it becomes clumsy and heavy.   

2012 Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Montredon -  £8.50 Cross Stobbs Bottle Shop
This was more like it.  Fresh and sappy on the nose, with salty acidity on the palate and satisfying length.  Just bring on the seafood.  .

2012 Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine Delsol- £6.95  Richard Granger
This was the wine that showed well in the Decanter World Wine Awards.  Part of the Foncalieu stable. Again a satisfying salty nose, and on the palate quite rounded and full, with salty fruit.  A little softer than the preceding wine.

2012 Domaine de Mus, Pays d’Oc, Roussanne Vermentino - £7.95  H2Vin
I think that Domaine de Mus is another label for the large estate outside Béziers, Domaine de Bachellery.  This had a lightly peachy nose, with hints of white blossom, and even more on the palate, so that it was rich and spicy and quite intense, maybe almost ‘du too much’ as the French so elegantly say.

2012 Domaine du Bosc, Grenache blanc,  Pays d’Oc - £5.95 The Wine Society
Delicate nose.  Easy rounded fruit, with soft white blossom.  Fresh and easy and undemanding

2011 Domaine Gayda, Viognier, Pays d’Oc  - £8.99 Leon Stolarski
Lightly peachy on the nose, but not especially so.  Medium weight.  A nice example of a restrained Viognier, and one that avoids the pitfall of overly confected fruit.

2010 Limoux Blanc, Le Limoux, Château Rives-Blanques.  – £12.50 Great Western Wine 
An intriguing blend of the three white varieties of Limoux, Chenin, Chardonnay and Mauzac, the same as for their Trilogie Cuvee, but a selection of the best barrels.  A leafy honeyed nose; quite structured with a touch of oak.  Good depth, with ageing potential. 

2011 Domaine Depeyre, Symphonie, Côtes Catalanes.  – Stone, Vine & Sun  - £15.95
Pale colour.  White blossom on the nose.  Some intriguing herbal notes on the palate.  Good acidity. Textured and layered with ageing potential.  Very intriguing.  Potential to develop.   

2011 Consolation Juliette, Côtes Catalanes.  Roussanne.   – The Wine Treasury  - £25
Quite a rich leesy nose.  Ripe white blossom fruit, with good balancing acidity.  Quite rich and leesy and textured, with good depth.  A touch of oak and a dry finish.  Good length.    

2011 Old Vines Grenache Noir, Hervé Sabardeil, Côtes Catalanes - £8.99  Marks & Spencer
Medium colour.  Quite rounded soft juicy fruit and even more so on the finish.  A lovely warm finish.

2011 Costières de Nimes, Château la Tour de Bérard – Slurp Wines - £8.70
A blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, with a little Carignan and Syrah.  Ripe easy spice on nose and palate, with supple tannins.  Beautifully easy and drinkable.  What the French call gourmand.

2011 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Domaine Bila Haut  Michel Chapoutier  £7.68 
A blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah.  Medium colour.  Quite firm but ripe nose.  Ripe supple fruit with some rounded oak. 

2012 Mas Coutelou, Les Vin des Amis, Vin de France – Roberson's - £12.95
A blend of Syrah and Grenache.  Fresh ripe fruit, with dry spice on the palate.  Some wild cherries and lots of character.  Medium weight and very drinkable.

2011 Domaine Alzipratu, Calvi, Cuvée Fiume Seccu – The Wine Society 12.50
A deviation into Corsica for some Nielluccio, otherwise known as Sangiovese.  Very perfumed fruit on the nose, with the herbs of the wild shrubs on the palate.  Medium weight and characterful

2011 Corbières Château Ollieux-Romanis, Cuvée Classique  - Les Caves de Pyrène - £9.12
Rounded spice and black fruit on the nose, and on the palate some rich spice and some supple tannin.  A characterful mouthful.

2010 Clos des Nines, Coteaux du Languedoc, l’Orée – Lea & Sandeman - £14.95
Grenache with Syrah and Cinsaut.  Medium colour.  Quite solid smoky spicy fruit on the nose, and on the palate solid and rounded with southern spice and a sweet finish. 

A deviation to Provence for 2010 Bandol, la Bastide Blanche,  £14.50 – H2Vin
Quite a firm nose, with a firm structured palate, and underlying smoky fruit,, with an elegant finish and some depth.  Needs time and promises well.

A postscript to this.  I have just been to the autumn Waitrose tasting and they have the 2011 vintage of la Bastide Blanche - another lovely glass of wine.  Quite structured and firm, with some oak, and still very youthful, but also very elegant with finely grained tannins.  For £14.79

2012 Mas Coutelou, Paf la Syrah, Vin de France, - Roberson’s - £18.95
Some rich peppery spice on nose and palate.  Supple but concentrated with some appealing fruit.  Very intriguing, and characterful.

2007 Minervois, la Chapelle de Saint Jacques d’Albas -Handford Wines - £18.33
Syrah with some Grenache Noir and Carignan,  - Firm youthful and peppery on the nose.  And some youthful oak, as well as fruit and tannin on the palate.  Needs more time, but promises well.

2007 Collioure, Domaine Madeloc, Magenca – H2Vin  £21.00
Grenache, with some Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan. Medium colour showing some development.  Quite firm and leathery on both nose and palate, with a firm tannic streak and some warm fruit.  A gutsy mouthful of the south.

And now on to some sweet wine:

1985 Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d’Age, Arnaud de Villeneuve.  – Waitrose - £13.99 for 50cls.
Light amber colour, rounded nutty ripe fruit, with a firm bite.  Depth and length, and delicious.

Maury, les Vignerons de Maury, 1928 Solera.  The Wine Society - £13.95 for 50cls.
Dark tawny colour.   Rich,  firm and nutty, and even more powerful on the palate. Dry nutty fruit; firm acidity and a firm finish. Very intriguing.

Maury, Domaine Pouderoux, Grande Réserve NV – Noel Young Wines - £13.41
Red with a tawny rim.  Rounded  ripe nose, with sweet ripe black fruit and soft supple tannins on the palate. All beautifully balanced. 

Maury, Mas Amiel, Cuvée Spéciale, 10 ans d’âge - Bancroft Wines £25.00
Quite a deep tawny red colour, with a brick rim.  Quite dry and leathery nose, with a dry nutty fruit on the palate.  Not as harmonious as the previous wine.

So all in all a great tasting.   And tomorrow I am on a plane to Palermo to go walking on the Aeolian islands and to discover the delights of Malvasia delle Lipari, amongst other wines.   So no more from me until the middle of the month.