Saturday, 27 July 2019

Domaine des Deux Clés

Florian Richter explained how his father is a wine importer from Dortmund, so wine was firmly in his genes.   He studied wine commerce at Geisenheim, and then worked with various wine producers, at Domaine du Capitoul on La Clape, in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, chez Beaucastel, at Maison Champy in Burgundy, where he met Gaëlle, who is a Burgundian, but her family have no vines.  She studied oenology at Dijon, then they travelled the world, to the Napa Valley, Te Awa in New Zealand, and worked with Alberto Antonini in Tuscany and then in 2012 they arrived in the Languedoc.  Gaëlle found a job with Pierre Clavel while Florian worked with Claude Vialade at Domaines Auriol.  They were living in Puechabon at the time, and decided to look for vines, finding some in St. Jean de la Blaquière, but it was too expensive to build a cellar there.  And then they found this property in 2015, a cellar with a house above, and 12.5 hectares of vines in the village of Fontjoncouse in the heart of the Corbières.  

They are high vineyards, the village itself is at 275 metres, and the vineyards go up to 330 metres.   It is a cool site; the vines are old, with Carignan an average of 80 years.  They have eight varieties altogether, mainly Carignan for red wine, with Grenache and Syrah, and for white, Grenache Blanc and Gris, Vermentino, Macabeo and Roussanne.  The vineyards were already farmed organically.   The previous owner was a Parisian banker; he also had gites, which he has kept, preferring to sell the vines.  The estate was originally called Val Auclair.  Altogether they now have 14 hectares, starting initially with just with 4 hectares.  

As for the two keys, Florian observed that he and Gaelle compliment each other; we each have our own key. The previous two years have been tough; in 2016 they lost 20% of their crop to frost and in 2017 50%.     And in 2018 there was mildew.  Altogether they make two white wines, one rosé and four reds,  2015 was their very first vintage.

In true Burgundian style, we tasted barrel samples.  First came Roussanne, grown on three different geological sites, tertiary era, jurassic with shells, and triassic with quartz and volcanic rocks, but all essentially argilo-calcaire.  2018 was their first Roussanne vintage, and Florian is inspired by his work at Beaucastel.  He makes wine as you would Chardonnay in Burgundy.  The grapes are trié à la vigne, and whole bunch pressed, with a new pneumatic press; the juice is then débourbé, and they use natural yeast, with the fermentation beginning in wood, but not new wood.  There is a malo-lactic fermentation, but no bâtonnage.  Tasted from barrel, the wine was fresh, almost lemony, herbal with white blossom, with some satisfying weight.  It will have been bottled in May, as Jeu de Clés, Vin de France - 18.00€

Next came a Corbières Blanc, from 50 year old Macabeo vines, 60%, with Grenache Blanc and Gris, and Vementino, with a firm dry note on the nose, and on the palate some dry herbal notes, with fresh acidity and understated fruit.  And also an appealing saline note.  Ten per cent of the wine is fermented in vat, with the rest fermented in barrel with a very small amount of new oak.  Florian favours barrels from Damy, with a fine grain and a light toasting.  He also talked about Chassin, the new cooper who is popular in Chablis.  'You have to fall on your knees and beg'. They only make 5000 barrels a year, half of which go to Burgundy, but he was lucky; because of the frosts in Chablis in 2017, he was able to buy some.  Florian is convinced that the Languedoc can produce great whites.  

2018 Clés en Main, Vin de France - 14.00€
70% old Carignan, planted in 1950 and 30% Syrah, the oldest Syrah vines in the village, planted 40 years ago.   The aim is a lighter style, an entrée de gamme. Fermented and aged only in vat. The Carignan is whole bunch pressed and given a shorter 15 day maceration.  Nonetheless a deep colour. Fresh red fruit with a touch of spice.  Medium weight, dry spice; a streak of tannin; dry cherries, griottes.  A croquant, crunchy quality.  

2018 Corbières Rouge - 16.00€
A blend of Grenache,Carignan, Syrah aged in vat.  Good colour.  Quite firm, fresh peppery cherry fruit on the nose and palate.  Very fresh; nicely peppery and very appealing.   Florian does not fine or filter his wines; and his vineyards are all north, north east facing, with nothing south or south west. That makes a lot of difference in the Corbières.

Next came three different barrel samples of the same Grenache, which will be Jeu de Clé.  The vineyard is at 300 metres and the alcohol a heady 15.5º, except you really didn’t notice it on the palate.  The first sample, from an old barrel, was ripe with cherry fruit, medium weight and a fresh finish.  The next was much more structured and tannic, tauter, but again with fresh fruit, while the third sample was from the new Chassin barrel, with much more obviously structured oak on the nose, though less so on the palate.  It is always fascinating to taste the quite significant differences between one barrel and another.

2018 Reserve, IGP Vallée du Paradis - 22.00€ 
The poetic, evocative name is the local IGP covering villages in the heart of the Corbieres. A blend of 80% Carignan, from vines that are 110 years old, and 20% Grenache, from 50 year old vines.  Blended after pressing and then all aged in barrel for 12 months.  Smokey red berry fruit on the nose and more delicious red fruit on the palate. Very appealing with a streak of tannin and a fresh finish.  

2017 Corbières - 16.00€
A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 20% Syrah, with 30% given some élevage in old wood and the rest in vat.  It was bottled in September 2018.  Rounded spice fruit, with  fresh fruit on the palate and a streak of tannin.  Garrigues notes.  Medium weight and an elegant finish.

2017 IGP Vallée du Paradis - 22.00€
The wood was quite apparent on the both nose and palate, with a firm tannic streak, but with good fruit underneath the oak. The wine needs to develop in bottle, and promises well for the future.  

There is also Rouge des Clés which we did not taste.  You sense that Florian has lots of ideas, and things he would like to try.  He admitted that fourteen hectares is too much for them.  And they really need more space as he would like to age his white wines for longer, and keep two vintages at a time in barrel.   There is a saying that you should one harvest on the vines; one in the cellar in élevage; one in bottle waiting to sell, and the fourth sold, and in your bank account!  

I was left the impression of a very thoughtful and committed winemaker.  He deserves to go far and it will be fascinating to observe his progress.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Vins & Vinos - A wine tasting in Carcassonne at 38 rue Barbès

I first met Alex Francis in Chablis rather more years ago than either of us care to remember.  He had just completed a wine-making stage chez Long Depaquit and since then he has had a varied wine trade career and is now based in Carcassonne, running a successful export business, dealing in Spanish wine as well as the wines of the Languedoc.  The shop front of his business is a welcoming wine shop, Vins et Vinos, right in the centre of Carcassonne.   I was in the vicinity the other day, so Alex suggested popping in for a tasting of some of his new discoveries and current enthusiasms, an invitation that I was particularly happy to accept.  In the Languedoc Alex concentrates particularly on the Minervois and is also exploring further afield. 

What follows is what I particularly enjoyed:  

Clos de Vènes, 2016 Vin de France - 25€
From an estate in at St Couat d'Aude.   Made from 70 year old Carignan
Deep colour; quite a solid ripe nose, with a dose of new oak.  Rich spicy fruit, with a firm steak of tannin. Quite a dry finish. An interesting interpretation of Carignan.  And on consideration, l preferred the Grenache from the same estate. 20€
Quite a deep colour, with a perfumed nose. Nicely silky palate, with juicy sweet berry fruit.   Quite ripe and rounded with an elegant finch.  

Next came a couple of wines from Domaine le Sieston in Laure-Minervois.
La vie est une fête. - a rosé from, unusually, Pinot Noir. 7.90€
Light pink with a very fresh nose.  Rounded palate with a fresh crisp finish.  Quite an unusual rosé for the Languedoc. 2018 was Alexis Brunel's first vintage, when he took the family vines out of the village coop.

His second wine, Aujols, meaning aieux in Occitan, or ancestors, is a pure Syrah. Good colour.  Quite rounded, rich and spicy, with a touch of tapenade and some firm tannins. Quite fleshy black fruit on the finish.

Then Alex opened Péchaligous, the wine made by Thierry Rodriguez from the vineyard of gris varieties that he has planted outside his cellar at Domaine Gabinèle in Laurens, which is part of the Faugères appellation.  There are twelve different gris varieties, all with pink skins when they are ripe, so with apologies for the list, but it does make interesting reading - Pinot, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon, Muscat à petits grains rose, Piquepoul, Savagnin Clairette, Trousseau, Grolleau, Mauzac, Riveyrenc and Grenache.  They are co-fermented.  It is a white wine with some depth of colour.  Firm mineral fruit on the nose, and on the palate, good acidity with firm fruit and well integrated oak.  A quarter of the wine is fermented in new oak.  A lovely original and very intriguing glass of wine.  Production is tiny and so the wine is inevitably expensive - 33€

I have always had slightly mixed feelings about Château d'Agel, often finding their wines too heavy and oaky, but apparently they have a new winemaker since my last visit.  2017 was his first vintage and the wines are noticeably more elegant.   There was les Bonnes, red, white and pink, all nicely unoaked.  10€.  The red, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and a little Carignan, is rounded and spicy with a tannic streak.  Caudios is a lightly oaked old vines Macabeo 16€.

Bruno Ohlzon is a Swede who has created a wine club of a large group of Swedish investors, about 1000 of them, at Domaine d'Escapat in the Minervois. Prestige le Capitaine Blanc is an intriguing blend of Muscat, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, with some pithy fruit @ 7.90€.   And Mes Amis Rosé is a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, with some well-integrated oak and quite a dry but viscous palate @12.00€

Numéro 6, Minervois, @ 9.95€, is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with good fruit, a nicely rounded palate and a hint of oak.  Medium weight with a steak of tannin.  The estate is close to Cabardès so in the cooler part of the Minervois.   

Prestige le Capitaine Rouge, a Pays d'Oc and blend of Cabernet and Merlot had ripe, rounded cassis fruit and a streak of tannin and a little oak, with a fresh finish.   

And then we moved onto Roussillon, with wines from Domaine Modat, an estate that I have not visited for a while. Philippe Modat's son, Quentin, is now making the wine.   De-ci et 
De-la was fresh and mineral with firm acidity and an elegant finish.  Les Luccioles, with some Viognier as well as Roussanne, Grenache Gris and Carignan Blanc, was richer and more textured.   And we finished with 2015 Comme Avant,  Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Caramany, with Carignan, Syrah and Grenache, and some oak, made by Philippe, was quite rich, structured and oaky.    18.00€.

So do go and check out Alex’s selection if you have a spare moment while you are in Carcassonne.  And thank you Alex for some new introductions, adding to my never-ending wish list of wine estates to visit.    

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Pays d'Oc rosé

Pays d'Oc covers the whole gamut of the Languedoc, from vineyards in the Gard all through the Hérault and Aude, into the Pyrenees Orientales, and in some instances, when the blend is that of the Languedoc, they beg the question; why an IGP rather than an appellation?    I think it is a choice of whether you accept the restraints of an appellation, as opposed to the flexibility of an IGP. A marketing decision above all else. Pays d’Oc usually concentrates on single varieties, but many of these were blends of a couple of grape varieties, some quite classic and some including more unusual grape varieties. All the wines comes from the 2018 vintage.  The alcohol levels are mostly around 12.5º, sometimes going unto 13.5º, and those wines tended to taste more vinous, with more weight.    

The range included some big brand names, such as Gérard Bertrand and Fat Bastard; some cooperatives, and some small individual estates, such Domaine de l’Ancely and Domaine Aigues-Belles.  It was wonderfully eclectic and varied, with highs and lows amongst the  90 plus samples.   I did not taste them all at once, but in batches over the course of a few days.   The wine-making information comes from the technical notes supplied with the samples.  My scoring principle is the same as for the appellation wines, (see earlier post), with a range of **** to *.   But * is really not worth a tasting note, so is not included.  

The wines are ordered according to their rating, but without any geographical logic, and if a producer submitted more than one wine, I have put all their wines together under the highest rating.    So if you are wondering what to drink this summer, here is the answer.  

L”Arnacoeur, Domaine de St. Jean d’Aumières, Gignac, Famille Castan.  **** 8.50€
A blend of 90% Cinsault with just 10% Syrah. 
Fermentation at a low temperature, 16ºC.  Cultured yeast, with great care taken to protect the must from oxygen.  Presented in an elegant Provençal bottle. Gris pink colour.  A little raspberry fruit on the nose.  Quite fresh, delicate and elegant, with a dry finish.  Nicely balanced.

Gris, Question d’Equilibre  **** 4.60€
From Les Coteaux du Pic, in other words, the very successful cooperative of St Mathieu-de-Tréviers in the appellation of Pic St Loup.  A blend of 50% each of Grenache and Cinsault, picked at night so that cool grapes are pressed in the early morning.   Very pale gris, as you would expect from the label.  Fresh and delicate on the nose.  Very elegant, and finely crafted with elegant acidity and raspberry fruit.  Lovely balance on the finish.  

Les Duos de Beaubois, Domaine Boyer-Molinder at Franquevaux in the Gard.   ****  8.00€
A blend of equal parts of Grenache and Cinsault. Three months on lees in vat.  
Orange pink.  Quite rounded, raspberry fruit on nose and palate.  Nicely rounded vinous finish, but still quite elegant in a vinous way.   Very harmonious.  

A trio from the talented Burgundian winemaker,  Laurent Delaunay, with his brand name, Les Jamelles. He is the owner of the négociant house Badet Clément

Clair de Gris **** 7.95€
Made from Grenache Gris, from Badet Clément’s own vineyards at Ouveillan.  Hand harvested early in the morning; pressurage direct with minimum skin contact. Slow fermentation.  
Very pale gris colour.  Lightly fruity nose.   Nicely rounded.  Fresh ripe fruit with more weight on the palate than the colour would imply.  Delicate, with a dry finish. 

Les Jamelles, Mourvèdre, Cépage Rare  ****   7.25€
Mourvèdre from vineyards in the Minervois and from near Béziers. Quick pressing to keep the colour extraction to a minimum.  Kept in stainless steel vats for three months, before bottling.
Pretty pale pink. Quite a firm dry nose.  Quite a substantial palate, with good fruit and structure.  A good balanced of tannin, fruit and acidity. Think Bandol rosé!  Only rather cheaper!

Les Jamelles, Clair de Rose  *** 6.80€
A blend of Grenache and Cinsault, from vineyards near Carcassonne and also the Bassin de Thau.  Hand-harvested.  Pressurage direct.  The aim is a very light colour, and the juice is vinified like a white wine at low temperature.  No malo-lactic fermentation. A little deeper in colour than the previous wine.   A slightly more solid nose, and more substantial palate. Firm dry fruit with a dry streak of acidity.  Quite structured and nicely so.

A trio of wines from Domaine de la Provenquière, a 150-hectare estate in Capestang

Signature  ****  10.00€
50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and unusually 20% Semillon. Co-fermented.  Pale orange pink.  Quite a ripe rounded nose.   On the palate, nicely vinous with some weight.  Ripe fruit, strawberries, with balancing acidity on the finish.   A food rosé.

Pinot Gris, from their Cuvée P range  ***  6.10€
Pure Pinot Gris and a very unusual choice of grape variety of the Languedoc.  Machine harvest and a long fermentation at a low temperature.  Almost white in colour.  Light fruity nose. Quite a rounded palate with acidity on the finish.  Soft easy drinking 

Peché Coquin ***   4.50€
A blend of 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache.
Pale pink.  Fresh red fruit on the nose, raspberry and strawberry.  Rounded palate with good fruit and a harmonious balance of acidity.  Easy drinking and good value.

Domaine de l’Engarran.  Terres de l’Engarran **** 6.60€
Grenache Noir.  Pressurage direct.  Fermentation in stainless steel tank.  
Orange pink colour. Quite rounded vinous nose.  Dry raspberry fruit, with some body on the palate. Quite ripe and vinous.  Definitely a salade niçoise wine.  

Domaine de l’Herbe Sainte, Grenache  ****  5.50€
Grenache can mean both Noir and Gris, but Gris must not account for more than 15% of the blend for a pure Grenache.  This wine was very much more successful than the same estate’s Cinsault.  Machine picked and pressurage direct.  Quite a bright pink orange.  Quite a rounded nose with a lightly herbal palate.  Rounded, vinous finish.  

Château Gayda, Flying Solo  ****  4.90€
From a pioneering estate in the Malepère, making wines without any reference to the appellation.  A blend of equal parts of Grenache and Cinsault.  Three months on the fine lees.  A deeper, pinker colour than some.  Quite a firm sturdy nose, with acidity and tannin on the palate.  Some structure, weight and fruit, with good depth.

Château Gayda, la Minuette  ****  9.25€
Mourvèdre 70%, Syrah 15% and Grenache 15%, grown on limestone.  Some machine and some hand-picked.  Three months on the fine lees.  Very pale colour.  Quite delicate fresh and indeed refreshing.  Light red fruit.  More elegant in style than Flying Solo, but both very successful rosés.

Vignobles Delonca, No 3,  Cinsault   **** 6.90€
Picked at night; pressurage direct.  Pale pretty colour. Light raspberry fruit on the nose. Lightly rounded palate; lightly delicate with a fresh finish.  Nicely understated.  

Vignobles Delonca, No 6, Grenache  *** 6.90€
Picked at night; pressurage direct, followed by a cool fermentation. Pretty pale pink colour.  Delicate nose with a note of cherry fruit, but a touch amylic.  On the palate, quite ripe fruit with cherry notes, balanced by acidity.  A creamy finish.  

La Villatade, Domaine de la Villatade    ****  10.00€
An estate in the village of Sallèles-Cabardès.   
A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache.  Hand-picked.  Direct pressing. Light pink orange, salmon colour.  Quite firm dry fruit on both nose and palate.  Nicely rounded with some body.   

Domaine St Hilaire, Expression **** 8.50€
An estate outside Montagnac.  Grenache Noir 65% with 35% Syrah.  Machine harvested in the early morning. Pressurage direct; fermentation at a low temperature with care taken to avoid any oxygen.  No malo and three months on the fine lees.  Pretty pale pink. Fresh dry elegant nose, lightly fruity, and on the palate more elegant fruit with a good balance of acidity.  Very nicely crafted.

Domaine St.  Martin des Champs, Meli Mélo  ****  6.50€
An estate in St Chinian.  60% Syrah with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Pressurage direct.  Very pretty pale pink. Lightly rounded nose and palate. Quite delicate, with elegant raspberry fruit and a soft gentle finish.

Foncalieu Griset, Extraordinaire Rosé  **** 6.50€
Extraordinary, as this is made from Sauvignon Gris, which you rarely find in the Languedoc, but Foncalieu have made the variety something of their own.  A very delicate gris colour and quite a delicate herbal nose.  Very fresh palate, dry, with herbal notes, and a touch saline, with a hint of raspberry fruit.   Nicely original.  

Le Versant, Grenache Rosé  *** 6.90€
Le Versant is a key brand of Vignobles Foncalieu, who are one of the big players in the Pays d’Oc.  Hand-picked and direct pressing. Pale colour, a pale pretty pink.  Quite a rounded nose, and on the palate, some rounded ripe raspberry fruit, with a dry finish.   Maybe a touch of residual sugar, in the middle palate, which makes for some vinosity on the finish.   Good balance.

Gaia de Fortant  *** 8.90€
From Fortant de France.  A pure Syrah.  Machine picked; fermented at 15ºC and aged on the fine lees for three months.  Pretty light pink. Quite firm dry raspberry fruit on the nose, with a more rounded palate and quite a crisp finish.  Quite elegant.  

Fortant de France, Grenache rosé Littoral  ***  5.90€
A story about the town of Sète and a whale on the label.   Free run juice and a month’s ageing on lees with some bâtonnage. Quite orange pink in colour.  Quite ripe fruit on the nose; almost a touch of oak.  Quite vinous, a mouth-filling, rounded palate with some weight and texture.  Made me think of Tavel rosé.  Definitely a food rosé, compared to Gaia de Fortant.  

Laurent Miquel, Vendanges Nocturnes  ****  7.50€
A blend of 70% Cinsault and 30% Syrah.  Picked at night, as the name suggests.  Fermentation at a low temperature and matured on the lees in stainless steel tanks.  Light colour, pretty and enticing.  Lightly rounded raspberry fruit on the nose.  Quite fresh and firm on the palate, with fruit and balancing acidity.  Elegant, with a refreshing finish.

Trilogie, Domaine de Viranel   ****   7.00€
This comes from a long-established St Chinian estate, outside the village of Cessenon.    34% Syrah, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Cinsault.  Direct pressing and three months in stainless steel.  Very pale gris colour.  Quite a delicate rounded nose.  On the palate, hints of raspberry and a little weight making a satisfying balance.  A dry finish, with an appealing lift on the end of the palate.  

Domaine Girard, Garriguette **** 6.00€
From a good Malepère estate in the village of Alaigne.   Unusually for the Languedoc, a pure Cabernet Franc. Light orange pink colour. Quite rounded ripe and vinous both on the nose and the palate.  A certain weight on palate, that works well. Rounded ripe and full-bodied, with character.  Definitely a food rosé or what the French more elegantly called un rosé de gastronomie.  

Domaine Aigues-Belles, Cuvée au Poirier des Rougettes  **** 9.20€
A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Cinsault from an estate in the Gard, at Brouzet-les-Quissac.  Hand-picked grapes, protected from oxidation. Light pink.  Lightly herbal notes on the nose, and on the palate, hints of the garrigues.  Very elegant palate with a dry finish and a nice lift.   An absolutely delicious bottle of wine; it was later enjoyed with a salad niçoise, which is one of my favourite summer dishes.  One of my coups de coeur of the whole tasting.    Although I have tasted wines from this estate on other occasions, I have never visited the property, so it is now firmly on my wish list.  

Domaine Ancely, Que j’aime ta couleur  ****  6.00€
From an estate in Minervois la Livinière.  70% Grenache to 30% Cinsault.  30 year old vines.  Machine picked.  Very pale, almost white colour.  A delicate elegant nose, which belies the weight on the palate.  Raspberry fruit, and a nicely rounded palate, with some weight.  Quite a soft finish.  Nicely balanced.   Another coup de coeur.   And another estate to add to the wish list of visits.  

Renaissance de Ciceron, Syrah  **** 6.70€
This comes from Claude Vialade, who I would consider to be one of the most dynamic and energetic women of the Languedoc.  We first met when she was the export director of the large group of producers, Vignerons Val d’Orbieu.  She now concentrates her activities on her own family estates and négociant business. This comes from her own estate in the Corbières.  Pure Syrah. Machine picked.  Traditional fermentation.  Pretty pink.  Firm dry nose with fresh fruit on the palate; a little weight and a satisfying lift on the finish.   An appealingly elegant glass of wine.

Montmija  *** 8.50€
This is another wine from Claude Vialade.  Again a pure Syrah.   Cool fermentation in stainless steel vats. Light pink in colour.  Quite ripe raspberry fruit and on the palate quite vinous, with red fruit, both raspberry and strawberry.  Quite textured with some weight.  A food rosé.  

Belle du Sud ** 6.20€
Bottled by La Belle Occitanie, Claude Vialade’s négociant company. 
70% Syrah, 30% Grenache. Orange pink colour. Quite creamy on the nose, and on the palate rounded, with some raspberry fruit and some body.  

Maison Ventenac, Aure  ****  6.90€
From a leading estate and négociant in Cabardès.   70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah.  Careful processing of the juice, with a fermentation at 18C. No malo-lactic fermentation.  Two months on fine lees.  Pretty pale pink.  Nicely rounded nose.  Quite ripe fruit on the palate.  Good acidity, balanced with some mouthfeel and weight, without being heavy.   A food rosé.

Domaine de Puilacher, Prologue ****  6.00€
Pure Syrah, grown on limestone.  Pressurage direct.    Pretty light bright pink.  Quite soft rounded fruit on the nose. Elegant and delicate on the palate, with a dry finish. 

Domaine de Puilacher, Variation ****  5.00€
A blend of equal parts of Grenache and Cinsault.  66-year-old vines.  Machine picked and pressurage direct.  Slow fermentation
Very pale gris colour. Delicate fruit on both nose and palate. Lightly rounded with a certain concentration and an elegant finish.  Very finely crafted.  

Villa Blanche, Calmel et Joseph  ****  10.00€
Grenache Gris and Noir.  Gris colour.  Light delicate nose, and an elegant palate, with a certain concentration of fruit on the finish.  Some raspberry fruit.  A rounded finish with balancing acidity.  

Mas Neuf le Rosé  ***(*)  9.90€
This comes from Vignobles Jeanjean’s estate in the appellation of Muscat de Mireval.  Pale pink.  Quite rounded nose and on the palate, dry raspberry fruit with fresh acidity and an appealing lift on the finish.   An intriguing blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Carignan, 10% Colombard and 10% Muscat.   Co-fermented.  Quite original.  The Muscat fills out the palate, with a hint of perfume on the finish, while the Colombard, normally grown in the Gers, for Côtes de Gascogne, provides acidity.  

Domaine Saint Nicolas, L’Amour de Venus **** 7.00€
From Ponteilla in Roussillon.   Proudly boasting ‘Since 1781’ on the label.  Quite a deep orange pink colour.  Rounded, vinous notes on the nose, with some herbs.  Fuller than the average Languedoc wine.  Richer, more vinous, with a dry finish.  Nicely characterful.  A food rosé.

Rubis, Rose de Cinsault, Domaine St Nicolas  ***(*) 5.00€
Pure Cinsault.  I think Cinsault is much less common in Roussillon than in the Languedoc.  A relatively deep orange pink colour.   Quite a rounded nose and on the palate full and vinous.  Quite a lot of weight and depth.   Not especially Cinsault in flavour; I tend to expect Cinsault to be more elegant.  Again, plenty of character.  

Grande Courtade, Instant, Famille Fabre**** 7.20€
60% Merlot, with 40% Cabernet, but without specifying whether Franc or Sauvignon.  From one of the large family landowners in the Languedoc.  Pale gris orange colour. Quite a firm fresh plate, with fresh strawberries.  Rounded with balanced acidity.  Nicely balanced finish.

Ô d’Yeuses   *** 9.40€
Syrah 60%, Grenache 30% and Cinsault 10%  Mechanical harvesting. Skin contact for ten hours. Cool fermentation.  
Quite a delicate nose.  Quite rounded and ripe on the palate.  Initially lightly elegant, but turns quite vinous with quite a heavy finish.

Les Yeuses, la Gazelles - ** 4.60€
A blend of 60% Syrah and 40 % Grenache. Harvested separately; given some skin contact and fermented at 15C.  Three months in tank.
Quite a deep pink.  A touch amylic on the nose, but quite rounded and ripe on the palate, but finishes a little coarse with some amylic acidity.

Domaine Morin Langaran, Cuvée Tradition  *** 5.50€
Pure Syrah, machine harvesting at night; pressurage direct.  Aged on the lees, with some regular lees stirring.
Light pink.  Quite a fresh nose, but a touch amylic.  On the palate a herbal note and some acidity.  Quite simple and easy. 

Blanville  ***  6.50€ 
A blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Cinsault.  Pale gris colour.  Delicate nose.  Quite fresh with some dry raspberry fruit, with some structure on the finish.  A dry finish; quite sturdy with some acidity.  

Chat Pitre de l’Amandaie  ***   7.50€
40% each of Cinsault and Grenache, with 20% Syrah.   Hand-picked. Pressurage direct.  Kept in tank for six months.  Light pink orange colour.   Quite rounded ripe and fruity, and on the palate fruit balanced with good acidity. Nicely rounded and refreshing.  The name is a play on words.  Pitre means a bit mad and the cat outline on the label is repeated on the cork.  

The cooperative at Bessan, on the coastal plain, near Béziers, has a certain reputation for its rosé.  

Rosé à bicyclette  ***  5.90€
50% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Cinsault, and 10% Caladoc, which is a cross of Grenache Noir and Malbec.  From organic vines that belong to just one member of the cooperative. The first vintage of this bottling.  Machine picked at night.  Cool fermentation.  
Light pink colour.  Quite a firm nose, fresh and dry.  Some weight on the palate.  Ripe strawberry fruit.  Quite vinous with balancing acidity on the finish.   Great value. 

Libellule ***  4.25€
Pure Cinsault. Light colour;  delicate and fresh on the nose and palate.  No great depth but a nice touch of fruit and well-balanced acidity.  

Bouche B(ée)  ***  5.90€
Also from Bessan.  Pure Syrah. Night picking; cool fermentation. Pretty pink light colour.  Quite fresh and dry.  good acidity.  Nicely elegant, with some structure and a ripe note on the finish.  

Domaine Sibille *** 7.60€
An estate in Laure-Minervois.  Pure Syrah.  Hand-picked and direct pressing.  Kept on the fine lees.  Pink orange.  Light fresh nose.  Quite a rounded palate, with ripe juicy fruit, balanced by good acidity.  Quite ripe and vinous.  

Bis by Bicaye, from SCEA Biscaye in Castelnau de Lez.  *** 6.00€
Pure Syrah.  Machine picked.  Pale gris.  Quite a rounded nose.  Quite ripe, strawberry fruit, with some weight on the finish. 

Domaine de l’Armet, SCEA Biscaye in Castelnau de Lez **
Pure Syrah. Very pale pretty colour.  Delicate fresh nose.   Nicely rounded palate, but with some weight on the finish, - in fact 3gms/l residual sugar, which made the finish a tad heavy and spoilt the elegance of the wine.

Rosé de Balthazar, Pierrick Harang ***
Pierrick Harang is a négociant based in Perpignan. 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. Pressurage direct.  Ageing on the lees with some bâtonnage.   
Sold exclusively at Waitrose - £6.99
Light colour.  Quite a delicate fresh nose, and palate.  Rounded and elegant.  

Le Petit Balthazar, Pierrick Harang – 5.50€
Pure Cinsault.  Pressurage direct.  Some lees ageing.  Pretty pink orange colour.  A touch of raspberry, and quite a firm palate, with firm acidity.  A hint green on the finish.  Only 11º.   They work in the vineyard to try to obtain ripe grapes at a low alcohol level.  

Les Granges de Félines, Maison Bellemare *** 6.20€
50% Cinsaut, 40% Grenache and 10% Syrah.  Light orange pink. Quite a rounded ripe fruit on nose and palate.  Soft and ripe, making for easy drinking.  Enough acidity on the finish.

Aromatic, Bruno Andreu ***  5.00€
60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. From the village of Montblanc in the Thongue valley.  Light colour. Light raspberry fruit on the nice and nicely rounded on the palate, with fresh acidity and a dry finish.  But not especially aromatic. 

A range of five wines from Gérard Bertrand
Prima Nature, Syrah rosé  ***  7.50€
Made without sulphur.  Pretty pale pink.  rounded nose, quite ripened vinous in an elegant way. Quite a firm palate, with fresh raspberries and fresh acidity.  Nicely balanced.

Naturae, Grenache Rosé  ***  5.95€
No SO2.  Pretty light pink.  A fresh delicate nose. Light fresh fruit.  Medium weight.  Lightly juicy with a dry finish and firm acidity.  

2018 Gris Blanc  ***  7.90€
Grenache Noir and Gris, and almost the colour of white wine.  Matured on the fine lees for several weeks.  Light nose, with delicate fruit.  Light fresh and elegant on the palate, with a dry, lightly bitter finish.

Solar  *** 7.20€
Grenache Rosé, vinBio, Bee Friendly - je protège les abeilles, from the Cévennes
Pure Grenache.  Pale gris colour.  Quite a fresh pithy nose, and on the palate.  Fresh raspberry fruit. Nicely balanced with good acidity.  Fresh juicy and refreshing.  

Perles de Grenache Rosé  ** 5.95€
with glass pearls decorating the bottle……
Pure Grenache.  Quite firm and dry.  Fresh dry raspberry fruit on the palate, but finishes a little flat.  

Change **  4.95€
A blend of Grenache and Syrah.  Under organic conversion.
Light pink orange.  Delicate fresh nose. Quite firm palate, with dry fruit, but a bit stalky on the finish.

Marius  ***  6.15€
Made by Michel Chapoutier from the Rhone Valley; Marius was his great grandfather.  A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah.  Machine picked.  Direct pressing.  A slow fermentation at a low temperature.  Protected from any oxygen to preserve the aromatic freshness.  
A deeper pink colour than some.  Quite solid and rounded on the nose, and quite vinous on the palate.  Dry and mouth-filling.   A food rosé

Domaine des Deux Ruisseaux, Syrah *** 5.00€
An estate in Servian, belong to the Valéry family.
Pure Syrah.  Pretty pale pink.  Quite a soft nose with a touch of raspberry.  A hint of boiled sweets on the palate, but quite fresh acidity, with raspberry fruit.  Quite light and refreshing and easy drinking.   

Domaine des Deux Ruisseaux, La Rosée  ** 5.00€
50% Grenache with 50% Merlot.  Night time harvest by machine.  Fermentation between 11-13ºC taking 30 days.  No malo.  
Pretty pale colour. Quite a delicate fresh nose and palate, but slightly spoilt by an amylic note on the finish.

Pot de Vin, Vignobles Guilhem  7.50€  ***
Machine picked.  Cool fermentation.  A blend of Syrah and Cinsault.  Very pale pretty pink orange.  Some dry raspberry fruit.  Quite rounded.  Quite a ripe rounded palate.  A vinous note on the finish.  

Villa des Anges, Old Vines Rosé, vinified by Jeff Carrel  *** 5.90€
Pure Cinsault from vines that are over 40 years old, from a vineyard near Capestang.  Machine harvested at night.  Pressurage direct.  Malo-lactic fermentation.    Pale pink gris colour.  Light fresh dry raspberry fruit on the nose, and palate.  Fresh acidity; quite crisp, incisive and refreshing.

Domaine du Grand Chemin, Incroyable  ***  10.80€
From an estate in the Gard at Savignargues.   Direct pressing. An unusual blend of 80% Cinsault and 20% Pinot Noir. Pretty pale pink, gris colour. Lightly herbal nose and the palate, quite rounded with ripe fruit, but finishes a little heavily.  Definitely a food rosé. 

Syrah du Bosc, Pierre Besinet *** 6.00€
Quite a bright pink.  Fresh light strawberry nose.  Quite a solid rounded palate, balanced with good acidity.  A rosé with an attitude.  

Cante Cigale, Delta Domaines ***  7.00€
Unusually, Petit Verdot.  Not the grape variety you would normally expect from the south.  The vines are 15 years old and the wine works very nicely.   Pressurage direct and fermented in both stainless steel and cement vats.  Quite a deep pink; bright and vivid.  A hint herbal on the nose.  Quite a firm structured palate.  Quite juicy fruit, with some weight and refreshing acidity on the finish.   

Domaine Py Cinsault   ***  Only available on the export market.  
From the village of Douzens in the Corbières.  Organic. 
Pure Cinsault.   Pretty pale pink.  Delicate nose. Light and refreshing and on the palate, some refreshing acidity and a little raspberry fruit.  No great depth but nicely balanced.  

Domaine de Sauzet, Champs des Oliviers ***  9.00€
From an organic estate in St Bazille de Putois, not far from Ganges, so a more northern estate of the Languedoc.  52% Carignan, 30% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pressurage direct, except for Cabernet Sauvignon which is saigné.  Cool fermentation; and left on the fine lees for a month. Quite pale pink orange.  Light raspberry fruit, turning into strawberry with some weight on the palate and a certain structure.  Quite vinous.  A dry rounded finish.  Quite nicely satisfying.  

Le Bouis, la Cigale **(*)  7.50€
From an estate in Gruissan, on the edge of the Massif de la Clape. 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah.  Machine picked.  The two varieties are fermented separately in stainless steel vats.  
Salmon pink.  Red fruit on the nose, both raspberry and strawberries. Quite a rounded solid palate.  Quite vinous with a ripe finish, and but a touch clumsy on the finish.  Definitely a food wine, to carry its weight.  

Le Bouis, Confidences  ** 16.00€
Pure Grenache.  Hand-picked.  Some skin contact and the wine is left on the fine lees for three months.  Pale pink.  Quite ripe raspberry fruit on both nose and palate.  A certain weight; quite vinous, but goes a little heavy and clumsy on the finish.  

Rose Montrose  ** 7.00€ 
From an estate in the Côtes de Thongue.  65% Grenache, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah. Picked at night and vinified separately. Direct pressing or a very short period of skin contact, depending on the grape variety.  Gris colour.  Quite firm and dry on the nose, and a touch stalky, with quite a firm structured palate, but again a bit stalky on the finish. Possibly the effect of the Cabernet Sauvignon? 

Fat Bastard  **  9.50€
A Grenache and Cinsault blend. Sourced from all over the Languedoc from the banks of Rhone to Carcassonne, and the foothills of the Massif Central.  Pretty orange pink.  Quite a firm dry nose, with dry raspberry fruit on the palate.  Quite firm and crisp, with a dry acidic finish.   No malo-lactic fermentation.  And not especially fat!

Cuvée du Soleil, Sieur d’Arques  ** 7.00€
An unusual blend of equal parts of Pinot Noir and Grenache, from the big Limoux coop.  Presented in a somewhat impractical fat bottle.  Gris colour. Light dry fruit on nose and palate.  Quite crisp, firm and fresh.  Rather innocuous without any depth of character.  

Louis Pinel Cinsault from Domaine Barsalou in Bizanet  **  4.90€
Pure Cinsault.  Some skin contact, cool fermentation and no malo-lactic fermentation. Louis Pinet is the present owner’s grandfather, so some family history on the back label.  Light pink orange colour.  Lightly rounded fruit on the nose, and on the palate quite ripe with strawberry fruit.  Quite vinous; even a bit too heavy on the palate.

Preignes-le-Vieux, Paradis  **  7.80€
Pure Grenache. Destemmed to avoid any bitterness.  A maximum of eight hours skin contact before the juice is run off. From vineyards at Vias, near the coast close to Béziers.  Pale salmon pink.  Delicate and fresh with a hint of raspberry.  Palate initially rounded, but with quite a firm finish, going a touch sour on the finish.  Better nose than palate.

Greg et Juju  **  5.85€
A blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Grenache Noir from Robert Vic at Vias.  In a fat bottle.  Pressurage direct.  Pale pink. Quite fresh spicy red fruit.  Quite firm acidity and a refreshing palate. Perfectly pleasant but no great character.  

Domaine de Favas  ** 7.00€
At St Bazille de Montmel between the Pic St Loup and St Drézery.  A blend of 85% Grenache Noir and 15% Syrah.  Orange pink colour.  Light dry nose with a hint of strawberry.  More weight on the palate, going quite ripe and vinous, with balancing acidity.  A rounded mouthful.

La Cocotte Rose ** 18.00€
SCEA Montaquoy at Fontcouverte in the Corbières 
60% Merlot to 40% Grenache.  Light colour.  A hint of raspberry on the nose, and more so on the palate.  Quite a ripe rounded palate. At 13.5º, more alcohol than some, and more vinous and heavier on the finish.  

Entre Nous, Selon Valensac.  ** 6.50€
From Domaine Valensac in Florensac.   Pure Grenache Noir.  Machine picked.  Just 22% of the blend is fermented in oak, and the rest in stainless steel.  I must admit that the oak component passed me by, so you could say it was very well integrated, but I might have expected greater depth or weight.   Pale salmon pink.  Quite a soft rounded nose.  Easy drinking with fresh fruit and easy acidity.  No great depth.  

Miss Anais, Gris, from Chantovent, part of the Jean d’Albert group in the Minervois.  **   4.50€
Pure Grenache.  Light colour.  Light delicate nose.  Lightly rounded palate.  Easy drinking.  A tad stalky on the finish.  Good value.  

Nore, from Château Jouclary in Cabardès   **  5.50€
Pure Grenache.  Machine harvested at night.  Pressurage direct.
Light colour. Light fresh nose.  Lightly rounded and a lightly vinous finish.  Easy drinking.  

Puech Haut Prestige  **  13.90€
A curious bottle shape; flat on one side, and certainly eye-catching, if lop-sided!  60% Grenache with 40% Cinsault   Pressurage direct.  
Very pale colour.  Delicate.  Nicely rounded ripe fruit, initially, but finishes rather heavily, and turns cloying.  I wondered if there was a touch of residual sugar, but only 1 g/l according to the technical details, Or was there some oak? But no, it was kept in tank.