Dom George (no relation) of Le Wine Shop has changed his business model. Being forced to close his shop in Pézenas, due to Covid, prompted a re-think of his business and now he concentrates on mail order and hosts small tastings (a maximum of six) for customers, either in the cellar of his house in Nézignan l’Evêque or he goes to peoples’ homes. And business is thriving. Dom knows his customers and their price range - they want value for money between 6 -10€ a bottle, what Dom called pépites or nuggets, just what the Languedoc does best. He is always nosing out new wines, so I asked if I could come for a tasting of some of his new discoveries. And this is what he gave me to taste, including a couple of the estates I had not even heard of, let alone tasted before!
2018 Domaine Monthelys, Languedoc - 11.00€
A blend of 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Marsanne. Kept in vat. Attractive herbal notes on the nose and a firm palate with fresh acidity, and what the French would call a joli amertume. Bitterness can be good in French tasting notes, but I think not in English. The wine was fresh and youthful with a little body. This apparently is a small estate based in Cabrerolles, run by a Parisian who has retired to the Languedoc.
2019 Bastide des Songes, Gewurztraminer, Pays d’Oc - 8.00€
Another new name for me. And an unusual grape variety for the Languedoc. There are the occasional examples, but at one time it was a grape variety that was not permitted in the region, only in Alsace. Gewurztraminer can be quite blowsy but this is much more restrained, with some elegant spice on the nose and palate. Medium weight with a firm finish.
2019 Domaine St Georges d’Ibry, Closerie d’Ibry, Côtes de Thongue - 9.50€
A blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. The Chardonnay has spent about six months in oak barrels. I have to admit that this is not my favourite style of white wine from the Languedoc, but it is well made. The nose is quite rounded with some lightly peachy notes from the Viognier and the palate has some weight. The Chardonnay tones down the perfumed fruit of the Viognier, and there is some acidity on the finish.
2018 Domaine de Cadablès, rosé, Vin de France - 8.00€
A blend of Grenache and Cinsault, saigné rather than pressed, so a deeper colour than the ethereal rosés of Provence, and none the worse for that. Quite a dry nose with some raspberry fruit. And on the palate, rounded, ripe and mouth filling, with some acidity and a hint of tannin. Quite a long finish. This is a food rosé rather than a rosé de piscine.
Now onto some reds:
2018 Le Soif des Hommes, Château Montana, Côtes Catalanes - 9.00€
Here we have strayed into Roussillon to the village of Banyuls-les-Aspres. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. No oak. Deep colour. Ripe cassis fruit on the nose and palate, with a tannic streak on the finish. It is youthful and fresh with ripe fruit. I like the flavours, but for the food of the Languedoc, I do so much prefer the spicy flavours of the local grape varieties, rather than interlopers from Bordeaux.
2015 Domaine Coste Rousse, Côtes de Thongue - 9.50€
A blend of Syrah and Carignan, a little élevage in barrel. Good colour with spicy fruit, and a note of the garrigues on the nose. Nicely rounded and ripe with a tannic streak. No great depth or subtlety but a jolly nice glass of wine.
2018 Domaine St Hilaire, Pays d’Oc - 18.00€
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Good colour. Ripe juicy nose, with ripe fruit and cassis on the palate. More expensive than Château Montana, and you could see why, with more depth and nuances on the palate.
2017 Château des Nouvelles, Carignan, Vin de France - 10.00€
A pure Carignan, from old vines. From a long established Fitou estate in the village of Tuchan. Medium colour. Rounded red fruit on the palate with good acidity and tannin. Medium weight with refreshing red fruit. Another lovely glass of wine. And it went a treat with Dom’s wife, Ine’s home made tapenade.
Domaine St Hilaire, Pays d’Oc, Late Harvest Viognier - 14.00€ for a 50 cl. bottle
We finished with a sweet wine, a late harvest Viognier, picked in the middle of October. Golden colour, with ripe, peachy fruit on the nose. With the sweetness, the palate loses the obvious peachiness of the Viognier and is simply ripe and rounded, with some lovely honeyed notes and a fresh finish. A tasty bonne bouche with which to finish our tasting.