Saturday, 25 July 2020

Terre des 2 Sources

An email from Kirsten Creasy, who is stuck in New Zealand, thanks to the pandemic, resulted in the arrival of the latest bottlings of Terre des 2 Sources.  And this is what I enjoyed.

2019 Les Amourettes, Pays d’Oc, Blanc
A blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Ugni Blanc and Vermentino.  Light colour.  A rounded nose, with some fresh herbal notes, and on the palate lightly herbal, with fresh youthful fruit. Good rounded weight, but not heavy.  Very harmonious and very complete.  A lightly bitter note on the finish, that refreshes the palate.   Nicely balanced.

Next came a trio of rosés, with subtle nuances and variations.   

2019 Les Amourettes, Pays d’Oc
A blend of Cinsault and Grenache.  A light pink colour and on the nose some delicate, fresh raspberry fruit.   The palate is rounded with more raspberry fruit and a little weight, balanced with refreshing acidity.   Youthful and fresh, and eminently easy to drink.  More of an apéro than a food rosé.

2019 Empreintes, AC Languedoc
A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, with a little more colour, a hint of orange pink.  And more rounded on the nose and palate, ripe and fuller, and quite mouth filling with a dry finish.  Definitely a food rosé, going well with a substantial salad.

2019 Accords, St Guilhem le Désert
A pure Syrah, with more colour than the other two wines.  Quite a rounded nose; quite full and substantial, with some body, good weight, a hint of tannin and some fresh acidity.  Nicely mouth filling and very definitely a food rosé.  

2018 Accords rouge, IGP San Guilhem le Désert 
A blend of Carignan and Syrah.  Quite a deep young colour.  This wine simply exudes opulently ripe, fresh fruit on both nose and palate.  There is a balancing streak of tannin, but fruit is the hallmark, both red fruit and black fruit, cherries of both colours, with some notes of spicy garrigues.  The Carignan provides freshness and the Syrah some spice.  A rounded harmonious finish.  Drinking beautifully now, but with ageing potential.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

The Outsiders – a six pack

The outsiders are just that, a group of wine makers who do not originate from the Languedoc, but from other countries or other parts of France, and who join forces for marketing purposes.  The wines of six of them are currently available from the excellent wine shop in the centre of Limoux, L'Atelier des Vignerons, so they put together a lockdown six pack and talked about their wines on the net.  I happened to come across the link in the monthly letter from Château Rives-Blanques, so I rather cheekily asked if I could taste the wines.  And this what I was sent.  You order via this link
The cost of six bottles is 95€ which includes delivery to eight countries, including the UK and from the shop, the wines cost 82€

2017 Blanquette de Limoux, Château Rives-Blanques - 13€
An Irish Dutch couple, Caryl and Jan Panman.   One of the most original of sparkling wines, made purely from Mauzac, the grape variety of Limoux, which is only found elsewhere in Gaillac.    The Champagne grapes are much more recent arrivals in the region.   Fourteen months on the lees before disgorgement.    Light colour.  Fresh nose, combining herbs and flowers and a rounded floral note on the nose.  Perfect for drinking in the garden on a summer’s evening.

Domaine Modat, Le Petit Modat Amour   - 11.00€
This estate was set up by Philippe Modat, who is a jurist in Paris.  His sons, Quentin and Louis were brought up in Fontainebleau, but have settled in Roussillon.  An intriguing blend of 25% Rousanne, 25% Grenache, both Blanc and Gris, 20%  Viognier and 30% Muscat.  .  A long maceration on the lees, rather than a classic débourbage. No oak.  The unusual blend works well.  A fragrant nose with some peachiness from the Viognier and a hint of grapiness from the Muscat, which become more apparent as the wine evolves in the glass.  Some weight on the palate, with a fresh finish.  A refreshing apéro, rather than a food wine. 

Le Clos du Gravillas  2015 A fleur de peau, Vin Orange de maceration de Muscat - 19€
John Bojanowski is American and married to Nicole who is French.  John always has some perceptive observations to make and the last time I saw him he wondering who it was who had determined that white wine should be made without its skins.....  and why not try an orange Muscat.   I have to say, I thought it was delicious.  A golden orange colour.  Very perfumed orange and Muscat notes on the nose, but the skin contact tempers the overt grapiness of the Muscat on the palate, so that the wine is much more subtle, if Muscat can ever be subtle, and has more depth than a conventional Muscat Sec.   There was a hint of pithiness and a little sweetness, with some acidity and some tannin and some intriguing fruit and structure.   I find that orange wine is remarkably versatile, accompanying a number of different dishes and flavours.

Domaine la Louvière, Malepère Rosé, Le Maquis - 8€
Jem Harris, the winemaker, is Australian and the estate is owned by Grohe family who come originally from Germany.  However, Nicolas Grohe was brought up in Switzerland and now lives in Alsace.  

A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.  A little colour.   The bordelais grape varieties make this quite a different style from most southern French rosés.  The nose is quite closed, and the palate quite firm and structured.  There is some rounded raspberry fruit, but the overall impression is one of structure and firm acidity, especially on the finish. 

2015 Domaine Sainte Croix, Corbières, Magneric - 14.00€
Liz and Jon Bowen are an English couple, with Jon an early graduate of Plumpton College in Sussex.
A blend of 31% old vine Grenache, with 29% old vine Carignan, and 35% Syrah, and just 5% Mourvèdre.   Destemmed.  Fermented plot by plot, using natural yeast, with manual punch downs.  Skin contact for 20 – 25 days, depending on the parcel.  75% of the blend is aged sur lie for 16 months in French oak barrels that are between 4 and 10 years in age,  and 228, 300 or 400 litres in size.   The remaining 25% of the wine is kept on its lees in tank.   

Deep colour.  Rich stony red fruit on the nose.  Ripe fruit and garrigues on the palate with some firm tannins, and a peppery note on the finish,  Good depth and a rich finish.,   It tastes of the warm south, and the rugged hills of the Corbières.   And I love the back label that essentially tells you you need to know about the estate and the wine.

2016 Domaine de Cebène, Faugères, Belle Lurette - 19.00€
Brigitte Chevalier comes from Bordeaux.  Predominantly Carignan from old vines, grown in schist, with some Mourvèdre and Grenache .  Very low yields.  Fermented and aged in stainless steel vats. Deep colour. Young ripe berry fruit with fresh tannins. Nicely rounded fleshy fruit.  Good balance.  Some stony notes.  Youthful and fresh.  Drinking well with some ageing potential.   Great with spaghetti alla carbonara!   And a great six pack showing the diversity and quality of the south.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Rosés from Foncalieu

I was sent a selection of rosés from one of the big Languedoc players, Foncalieu, and this is what I tasted.

2019 Ensédune, Coteaux d’Ensérune, Cabernet – 5.90€
A rather charming label, with a photograph of the vignerons, Stephane et Nelly G, vignerons d’Ensérune, vous présentent…. 
Pure Cabernet Franc, although the label does not specify.  Three months in stainless steel vats, with a weekly bâtonnage. Pretty pale colour.  Quite rounded nose with some ripe fruit on the palate, but also it tastes a tad heavy, although it is only 12.5°, with a note of boiled sweets. 

2019 Le Versant, Grenache Rosé Pays d’Oc – 6.90€
Pure Grenache grown on north-facing slopes.  Direct pressing and three months ageing in stainless steel vats with a little bâtonnage.  A pretty pink. Quite a ripe rounded nose, as you would expect with Grenache.   Combined with a rounded palate, with some weight and fruit.  A hint of sweetness on the finish, coming from the ripe grapes. 

2019 Piquepoul Noir, Coteaux d’Ensérune – 7.90€
An unusual grape variety for rosé; I have had it more often as a fresh red wine.  Pretty pale colour.  Light fresh fruity nose, with a hint of raspberry.  On the palate quite firm acidity, but still very young and crisp. A little weight but needs to fill out on the finish, which it will as the summer progresses.  13°

2019 Domaine Haut Gléon, Vallée du Paradis  - 9.90€
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Gris and Marselan, from Foncalieu's flagship property in the Corbières.  A bit of a fruit salad of grape varieties, but it worked surprisingly well.   Four months ageing in stainless steel vats.   Pale colour.  Quite a rounded nose, with a rounded palate.  Notes of raspberry with lightly mouth filling weight.  Good depth on the finish.  A food rosé, which went beautifully with a piece of salmon.   13.5° 

2019 Château Haut Gléon, Corbières – 12.00€
Half and half Syrah and Grenache.  Four months in stainless steel vats.  Quite a vibrant pale pink – a little too vivid.  Quite a fragrant nose and a rounded palate with some weight and depth. Quite ripe and mouth filling and quite a rich 14°. It goes a touch heavy on the finish, but that makes it a good food rosé   

2019 Paradis Secret, Languedoc - 10.90€
A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault.  Direct pressing and some ageing on the lees.  Pretty pale colour, orange pink.  A delicate nose and a similarly delicate palate.  Elegant subtle with fresh acidity.   An elegant food rosé that would also serve as an aperitif.   I liked this a lot.   The very best of the bunch.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Domaine of the Bee - their latest wines

A package arrived in the post last week, containing half a dozen dinky little bottles, each containing 50 ml of wine, with an exhortation to taste them as soon as possible.   The bottles had been carefully filled, without contact with oxygen, so the contents were in good condition.   They came from Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, the owner of the Roussillon vineyard, Domaine of the Bee, situated in the Agly valley.   

All the cuvée names are an amusing play on words.

2019 Field of the Bee, Côtes Catalanes - £16.00
A blend of Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc, the classic white varieties of Roussillon. The vineyards for this wine belong to Jean-Marc Lafage, one of the big producers of Roussillon, and a good friend of Justin’s. Twenty percent of the wine spends four months in barrel, but any oak flavour is  is barely perceptible. A light colour.  The nose is fresh and youthful, some delicate floral fruit and un joli amer, a nice bitterness - bitterness can be a compliment in French - and some pithy fruit on the palate, with a little weight on the finish.  I felt that it needed to fill out a little, which it doubtless will with some bottle age.  

2019 Bee Pink, Côtes du Roussillon - £15.00
A blend of Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris and Syrah.   A very pretty palate pink colour.  A rounded nose, but a touch amylic.  Some weight on the palate with some dry fruit.   Again I thought it would benefit from a little longer in bottle.  

2018 The Bee Side, Grenache, Côtes Catalanes - £22.00
Half the Grenache is whole bunch pressed and half destemmed, and all fermented in barrel, and then aged for 14 months.   Medium colour.  A dry nose but with lovely ripe Grenache fruit on the palate, with a firm streak of tannin on the finish.  Essentially lots of cherry fruit on palate; quite ripe and fleshy, and very Grenache. 

2018 Carignan, Côtes Catalanes - £18.60
From 80-year-old vines. Aged in 500 litre barrels, one new and one three years old.  Deep colour.  Compared with the Grenache, a much firmer fresher nose, with a nicely structured palate, with some rounded ripe berry fruit.  Nicely rounded and balanced.    A lovely example of Carignan, with some great potential.

2018 Domaine of the Bee, Côtes du Roussillon Villages - £25.00
This is the wine for which this estate is known.  A blend of Carignan, and Grenache.  Some of the Carignan is fermented in stainless steel vats, and the rest in demi-muids, with their tops taken off, along with the Grenache, and then all the wine is aged in 500 and 250 litre barrels for 18 months.  Medium colour.  A youthful nose; lovely fruit with a hint of well-integrated oak.  A rounded palate, with fruit and balancing tannin; good depth and weight, and plenty of ageing potential.   More elegant than some earlier vintages that I have tasted.   Justin attributes this to more whole bunch pressing which helps restrain the alcohol levels and retain freshness.  

2018 Les Genoux, or the Bees’ Knees, Côtes Catalanes - £40.00
A field blend of old vines, from the 100-year-old Coume du Roi vineyard.  Grenache Noir with 10 – 15% Grenache Blanc and Gris.   The grapes are handpicked, destalked, lightly crushed and fermented in 500 litres demi-muids, with some hand-plunging.   There is a three-week post fermentation maceration and then the wine is aged in demi-muids – one third new – for 14 months.    The colour is lighter than the domaine wine.  And the wine is altogether more elegant and subtle, in other words Grenache at its most elegant, with delicate red fruit and silky tannins.  The oak is very well-integrated and the flavours very harmonious.   A lovely glass of wine.   

NB  I have given the full retail prices, but if you join the Club of Domaine of the Bee, there are some serious discounts available. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

2019 Mas d’Alezon, Presbytère

A bottle turned up unexpectedly in the post one morning a couple of weeks ago.  My good friend Catherine Roque had sent me her latest Faugères, the 2019 Cuvée Presbytère, complete with a smart new label.  And the wine was delicious, with a deep, young colour and ripe spicy nose, that was wonderfully opulent.   A rounded ripe palate, with fruit and spice, with a streak of tannin providing balanced structure.   Even though it is less than a year old, it is remarkably ready to drink, with immediate appeal, and a modest 12.5°.

The blend is 40% each of Cinsault and Grenache, including its cousin, Lledoner Pelut.  There is also 10% Carignan for some structure and 10% Syrah for some spice.   Catherine favours a gentle infusion of whole bunches for about four weeks in cement vat or concrete egg; there is no pigeage or any other extraction.  Then the wine is aged in either a chestnut foudre, or in oak barrels for eight to nine months.

I asked Catherine about the weather conditions in 2019.  She said that the year was marked by the wind.  The winter was fairly dry and cold.  March was dry and mild and the vines started to grow.  Cooler than average April and May slowed down their growth, with dry windy weather.  Flowering was around June 15th.  The summer was dry, with little wind and on occasion some very high temperatures which blocked the ripening process.   The harvest took place in September in dry windy conditions.  In short, the grapes were concentrated by the north wind and ripened in good conditions.  And 2020 so far is marked by water.

The new label was designed by Delphine, Catherine’s third daughter who is an architect, as her mother was, before she came to wine.  Delphine found an old plan of Faugères in the departmental archives of Montpellier and they were able to use it to make a very effective label.