Thursday, 23 June 2016

Languedoc at The Wine Society

I always enjoy the Wine Society’s tastings as their buyers invariably come up with a deliciously eclectic range of wines, and last week was no exception. 

There were three wines from the Languedoc, namely
2015  Pélerin Blanc Pays de Caux, from the Chartreuse de Mougères, between Pézenas  and Roujan.   £6.25.  This comes from a blend of Vermentino and Sauvignon, with a dash of Muscat.   The nose is quite soft and fragrant and the palate combines the pithiness of Sauvignon, and the sappy quality of Vermentino, with the Muscat providing a lift on the finish.  It makes for eminently easy drinking.

2015 la Clape, Arpège from Château Rouquette sur Mer - £10.50
This is altogether a much more serious wine, made from Bourboulenc, which is the characteristic white variety of la Clape, blended with some Roussanne.  To quote Marcel Orford Williams, the Society’s buyer for the Languedoc, the Bourboulenc gives the wine its grip while the Roussanne adds body and flavour.  It has a lovely saline note, stemming from the vineyard’s proximity to the sea, and there is some weight on the palate, with a fresh sappiness and an elegant finish.  A stunning example of how the white wines of the Languedoc are improving with every vintage.

2014 Fitou Origines, Domaine Bertrand-Bergé - £7.95
This comes from the mountainous vineyards of Fitou, as opposed to the coastal vineyards and the p[principal grape variety is Carignan.  Quite simply the wine tastes of the south.  There are smoky leathery notes on the nose and on the palate lots of nuances, with red fruit, garrigues, herbs and spice .  The finish is youthful and sturdy, with some potential for ageing. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Highlights from Stone, Vine & Sun's South of France tasting

Stone, Vine and Sun are one of the few specialist  wine merchants for the South of France, so I always enjoy their annual tasting.  

2014 Domaine J. Laurens Crémant de Limoux Brut Les Graimenous - £13.95

A great start to the tasting with this delicious Crémant de Limoux from an estate that is establishing itself as one of the leading producers of the appellation.  Quite a delicate nose, dry and herbal with a hint of yeast autolysis and on the palate rounded and creamy with an elegant finish.

Domaine Begude is also from Limoux but concentrates on still wines.  There was an unoaked Chardonnay that was lightly buttery   - £9.50 - and richer oaky Limoux - £14.95 - as well as Le Secret du Sud, a very convincing Gewürztraminer with some ripe spice but quite a soft finish, and good varietal character.  And James Kinglake's 2015 Pinot Noir Haute Vallée de l'Aude was light red in colour with delicate fresh raspberry fruit and a streak of tannin on the finish. - £11.50

2015 Creyssels, Picpoul de Pinet £8.95 was firm and salty, just as good Picpoul should be, for £8.85.

Plan de l'Homme is a new wine estate for Stone Vine & Sun and I was delighted to see that Rémi Duchemin's wines are available in the U.K.  2015 Flores Blanc Languedoc with 90% Roussanne and some Grenache Blanc was rounded and textured with depth and body and understated fruit.   It had just been bottled and may have been a. tad inexpressive on the nose. However there is plenty of potential.   £11.95.

Plan de l’Homme also featured amongst the reds with 2014 Flores which is based on Cinsaut with some Grenache and Syrah, with some ripe but refreshing cherry fruit on both nose and palate.  Medium weight, with some structure and restrained ripeness - £11.95.  2013 Plan de l’Homme Habilis rouge Terrasses du Larzac was quite ripe and sturdy with youthful fruit, and a fresh finish. Elegantly mouth filling with ageing potential.   £15.95

There were just three rosés of which my favourite was Domaine du Météore les Léonides, Faugères. A pretty pale colour with a delicate dry nose and some fresh raspberry fruit balanced by good acidity.   Quite firm and structured.  £10.50

Domaine la Croix Belle Caringole Rouge, Côtes de Thongue is a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Carignan with some ripe rounded fruit and a streak of tannin making for undemanding easy drinking at £8.95. 

I enjoyed a couple of wines from Mas des Brousses, from the picturesque village of Puéchabon.  2014 Chasseur des Brousses, Pays d’Oc with a blend of Merlot with some Syrah and Grenache was ripe, rounded and spicy.   £10.50 and Mas des Brousses 2013 Terrasses du Larzac had quite a sturdy leathery nose, with quite a firm tannic youthful palate, balanced with some spicy fruit.  A serious mouthful of wine with plenty of ageing potential - £16.50

There was a pair of wines from Mas d’Amile in Montpeyroux.  2014 Vieux Carignan IGP St. Guilhem le Désert, comes from 70 year old Carignan vines and has some firm red berry fruit on both nose and palate.  The palate is quite structured, ripe and youthful with a fresh finish.  £12.95.
Amelie d’Hurlaborde’s 2014 Montpeyroux had quite a firm tight knit nose, with some ripe fruit on the palate, balanced with some youthful tannins, with ageing potential.   £14.95

2013 Domaine du Météore, Faugères Rouge, Les Léonides  £10.95 was a good example of that appellation, with some rounded spice on the nose and a youthful palate, with a firm freshness on the finish, with some ageing potential.  

And the tasting finished with three lovely vin doux.  2003 Domaine Fontanel Rivesaltes Ambré, with an amber colour, and long lingering walnut fruit on both nose and palate.  The wine was rich but elegant, with good acidity and elegant nutty fruit, and enormous length, and an absolute bargain at £17.95

Domaine Fontanel Maury 2013 was quite different, a lovely example of a youthful fresher style of vin doux, with ripe spicy berry fruit on the nose, and more red berries on the palate, balanced by a firm streak of tannin.   £17.95.

With Domaine du Traginer Banyuls Grand Cru 2006 it was a return to the oxidative style with more rich walnuts on the nose, and on the palate, with a firm spirity bite on the finish. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Highlights from the 2016 Languedoc Top 100

I did not spend much time at the London Wine Fair this year – blame a book deadline, of which more in due course, but I did taste through the Top 100 Languedoc wines.  I had missed helping with the judging this year, as I was in the Languedoc, so I was keen to see what had been chosen.  684 wines were submitted, with more wines from smaller producers than in previous years,  and what follows are my highlights. 

First off was a pair of lovely sparkling wines from Domaine J. Laurens.  Le Moulin, Blanquette de Limoux and les Graimenous, Crémant de Limoux, both fine examples of their appellation and illustrating the differences between Blanquette and Crémant.  I thought they were both delicious in different ways.

The best of the Picpoul de Pinet  came from Château St. Martin de la Garrigue, with some convincing salty fruit.  I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, Picpoul seems to be turning soft and soapy, when it should have a firm grip of salinity and acidity.  Please don’t lose that.   And there was a firm stony Vermentino from Domaine Saint Hilaire, a property which has recently changed hands, but this wine would have been made by the previous owners. 

Domaine Jones was a Trophy winner with a delicious 2014 Côtes Catalanes from Grenache Gris, with a touch of oak and some lovely rounded textured palate with good depth of fruit.  It was a lovely glass of wine, fully deserving its trophy, and demonstrating the quality of Grenache Gris.  I tasted some more of Katie’s wines the next day; they are well worth looking out for.   A host of Chardonnay and Viognier came next, for which I could not work up much enthusiasm.    Château de Lascaux, a Pic St. Loup estate, had a lovely white Languedoc a blend of Vermentino, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier with some intriguing herbal notes and a rounded palate.  Château de Gaure  Limoux Blanc, a blend of Chardonnay with Chenin Blanc and Mauzac was elegant and fresh with some dry honeyed fruit.

There was just one rosé, and that won a trophy, La Nuit tous les Chats sont Gris from the Cellier des Chartreux in the Gard, with a pale colour and fresh fruit and an elegant finish.  I was amused by the name, but I know nothing about the producer.

And then on to reds, which accounted for three quarters of the wines.  Domaine Coudoulet Pinot Noir from the Minervois village of Cesseras was light and rounded with a fresh raspberry finish.  Château Viranel, IGP Pays l’Hérault, was an unusual  blend of Alicante Bouschet, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, with some ripe, spicy fruit and supple tannins.  There were a couple of Carignan, with Fortant de France, Réserve des Grands Mont showing fresh red fruit and some structure, while Domaines les Auriols, Côtes Catalanes, was firm and peppery.    Then there was a handful of Syrah Pays d’Oc, from Vignobles Lorgeril, Domaine Aubaï Mema and Domaine les Yeuses.

Next came various AC Languedoc, such 2015 Château de Gaure, with a blend of Syrah, Carignan Noir and Grenache Noir, which was youthful and dense, with tight knit layers of fruit.  Château de Lascaux had a youthful red, a blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre, with some smoky concentrated fruit.  I was also intrigued by an estate that I have not come across before. Château Argenties in Lagrasse, with a Grenache |Noir, Syrah, Carignan blend, with some smoky fruit and a rounded palate.

Other highlights included Domaine de Magellan, again AC Languedoc with some fresh spice and oak; Villa Dondona’s Dame Mourvèdre, with some youthful smoky elegant fruit, Château  de Cazeneuve  les Calcaires, Pic St. Loup with some rounded spice.  Although it was only 2014, it was drinking deliciously, and there was a new, to me, Pic St. Loup, Domaine Mirabel, with some youthful fruit.

2012 Quetton St. Georges, St. Georges d’Orques from the Château de l’Engarran was ripe and spicy with good depth on the palate. A Grès de Montpellier,  Domaine Guizard in Lavérune was fresh and spicy with a good balance.  Les Cocalières 2014 from Sylvain Fadat had elegant spice on the palate with a fresh finish.  

There were four Faugères, Mas Gabinèle, Domaine de Fenouillet, Château des Estanilles and Domaine Montgros.  My favourite of theses on the day was Château des Estanilles 2013 Raison d’Etre, with some elegant fresh fruit and a good balance on the finish.   Les Haut de Saint Martin from the Cave de Roquebrun was rich and smoky, youthful and spicy.  A handful of Corbières followed, of which Lauzina Rouge from Château Beauregard, was my favourite, with fresh but ripe fruit and an elegant balance and the wild note of Corbières.  

And I am sorry to say that I disagreed with the red trophy, a Fitou 2014 Noblesse du Temps from Domaine de la Rochelierre.  It seemed rather ripe and oaky, and not very balanced, but I ought to qualify that by saying that tasting temperatures were not ideal.  The hall at Olympia was heating up in the spring sunshine so that the organisers were faced with a logistical challenge.  I preferred Ancestrale from Domaine Bertrand-Bergé, which was rich with a firm balancing tannic steak. 

And the 100th wine was a new estate to me, Château de Peyssonnie,   a Muscat de Frontignan, with some fresh elegantly grapey fruit.