Sunday, 20 July 2014

Printemps des Vignerons


An email from Graeme Angus of Domaine les Trois Terres alerted me to this wine festival, a gathering of twenty or so organic or biodynamic wine growers at Domaine de la Tour outside Nébian, organised by Céline Beauquel from Clos Romain in Cabrières.     The core of the wine growers came from the Languedoc, but there were also people from Chablis, Gaillac, and other regions.  And the tasting space was in the enormous cellar at Domaine de la Tour.  This is the Languedoc at its most traditional, with a backdrop of huge foudres, and old implements decorating the cellar walls.    I had a great afternoon, tasting a couple of more familiar estates, and making some new discoveries.

The familiar included:
Domaine les Trois Terres:
2011 Le Saut du Diable, a blend of Grenache and Carignan- 10.00€.  A lovely combination of rich ripe fruit, with a fresh mineral finish. 

2010 la Minérale, mainly Syrah, from St. Jean de la Blaquière and Cabrières with some Cinsaut and Grenache, aged in barrel.  Firm, sturdy,  tight knit,  peppery, youthful, with a mineral note on the finish.

And a new wine, 2012 Cuvée Moderne – 9.00€  Syrah and Grenache from Cabrières given a short maceration for early drinking.  Graeme described this as his retro cuvée.  Immediately ripe rounded and spicy with supple tannins and a sappy quality.  And quite simply a jolly nice drink.

There were some lovely wines from Clos Romain
Parenthèse 2012 – 10.00 - Lovely fresh fruit, spicy and elegant

2011 Patience – 12.00€ - Firm fruit on the nose, with a combination of concentration and elegance on the palate

2012 Phidias – 15.00€ - Quite a firm nose, but with fresh ripe black fruit on the palate.  Medium weight.

Catherine le Conte des Floris was pouring three wines:
2012 Arès Blanc – 15.00€ - Dry honey and firm acidity.  Medium weight palate.  Notes of fennel and other herbs.  Very intriguing.

2012 Six Rats Noirs – I completely misheard this and thought she said Syrah Noir – why was she specifying the colour I wondered.  Of course this is Daniel’s way of conveying that the grape variety is Syrah.  Quite solid and dense, with firm fruit and a certain confit note on the finish.  11.00€

2012 Villefranchien – 16.00€  - Mainly Grenache and just bottled.  Medium colour.  A restrained nose.  Very elegant fruit.  Subtle and understated.  Should develop well in bottle. 

At the barrel next to Catherine there was Domaine Jorel from Maury.     I have a vivid memory of visiting Manuel Jorel’s  vineyards on a bright winter’s morning a few years ago. The scenery is breathtaking and dramatic.

2012 Bande de Gypse – 8.00€  - The soil is mainly gypsum, calcaire.   A blend of seven grape varieties – here goes:  Torbato, Malvoisie, Macabeu, Carignan Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Gris and Muscat d’Aléxandrie, with nine months élevage in old wood.    The wine was lightly resinous on the nose, with some intriguing fruit on the palate.  Quite firm with good acidity and a slightly earthy finish.

2012 Rosé Esquisse d’Agly from Grenache Gris had good acidity with a rustic note 
I really like the2011 Cuvée 2nde – 7.00€ a Côtes Catalanes, from Syrah grown on granite.  Firm peppery nose and palate, after a year in wood.  Tight knit with fresh fruit.   Good structure and a fresh note on the finish.

2008 Côtes du Roussillon Villages  - 14.00
A blend of Syrah, with some Grenache and Carignan.  Deep colour.  Solid dense leathery fruit on nose and palate.  Quite a firm sturdy youthful tannic palate.

And now for some unfamiliar.   Le Petit Domaine in Montpeyroux was completely new to me, but as chance would have it, I had a second opportunity to taste Aurélien Petit’s wines at the Montpeyroux fete a week later.  And very good they were too.  See my post about the  Montpeyroux fête

Domaine Mamaruta at Leucate in Fitou.
2013 Constellation, Vin de France – 12.00€  - An intriguing blend of Macabeu, Grenache Gris, and Carignan Blanc.  Fermented and aged in oak for seven months.   Light colour.   Quite a leesy nose.  Notes of fennel.  Very good acidity and minerality.   And there was fresh youthful Fitou, Cacahuète, with rich structured fruit.

Les Vignes Rouges makes IGP Cévennes near Alès.   The family vines, eight hectares, were taken out of the cooperative in 2008.  There was a range of reds.  Clémence 2012 – 5.80€ - was fresh and perfumed, and aged in vat.  It is a blend of 70 % Carignan, made by maceration carbonique,  with equal parts of Syrah and Grenache.  Next came  Pimprenelle; then Aphyllante with some rich fruit and tannin; Noctumbule which was mainly Syrah with perfumed fruit and supple tannins, and le Temps d’un été, a pure Grenache aged in vat with some ripe balsamic notes.

Les Sabots d‘Hélène are in the Corbières at Feuilla.  There were three red wines, Libertoire, Alternapif and Percepteur,  a pure Carignan given 24 months ageing in oak, which was rich dense and sturdy.  And wonderfully characterful.

Domaine des Amiel, not to be confused with Mas Amiel in Maury.   The Amiel family make wine in Montblanc, a village between Beziers and Pézenas, from 9 hectares.  A Coural after a great grandfather, Coural was his nickname, is a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, with fresh ripe easy fruit, for 7.00€    A l’Ouest temporarily overturned my prejudices about Merlot in the Midi. It  was ripe and plumy without being confit,  with a refreshing streak of tannin.

And then I allowed myself a little deviation to Chablis, for Olivier de Moor’s   2012 which had fresh minerality and good flinty acidity.    All in all, a good afternoon. 


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Le Grand St. Jean or the Faugères fête.


I always enjoy this village fête  It is wonderfully animated with plenty of wine to taste and vignerons to talk to.  I realise that this year I was not that assiduous about tasting.  I think I was having too much fun chatting.  The main street, la Grande Rue, is a bit like Piccadilly Circus.  If I stood in the middle of it for long enough, I felt I would meet everyone I knew in the Languedoc.   It also poses a bit of an obstacle course; there were babies in buggies and dogs on leads and groups of friends stopping for a chat or a taste.  And there was not just wine.  I was tempted by strings of pink garlic, by wholemeal loaves baked in an old fashioned bread oven, by ginger syrup.  The village historian, Claude Caumette, was there selling his books;  a local artist had some lovely water colours and sketches, and the distiller from Autignac was displaying his wares, a fragrant Marc de Muscat and a rich Esprit de Bière as well as the classic Fine de Faugères.    And the various confréries, not just that of Faugères, processed down the street. 



I had a quick taste of Domaine de Sarabande’s fresh dry rosé, which made a refreshing rince-bouche.  And Simon Coulshaw from Domaine des Trinites had just bottled his 2013 le Portail – he said it was infanticide to taste it, but nonetheless you could see the potential with some firm liquorice fruit and minerality.  The blend is slightly different from the previous vintage with 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre, as opposed to 2012 which had 60% Syrah, but with 25% Grenache, 10% Carignan and 5% Mourvèdre.



Brigitte Chevalier from Domaine de Cebene was also pouring St. Martin d’Agel’s 2013 le Pélerin, which had some appealing red fruit, with a touch of liquorice and a fresh finish.   I much preferred it to the 2012 of last year – definite progress has been made there.   And Brigitte has moved into her new cellar outside Faugères, so we made plans for me to come and admire it, even though she still has no electricity ….



Jérôme Py of Domaine du Causse Noir was the newcomer to the occasion, pouring his first vintage, the 2011.  If wines take on the character of their maker, this is a classic example.  Jérôme is solid and stocky, and so are his wines, rich and characterful, with leathery notes.  And his 2013 rosé has an intriguing herbal note.



And then we adjourned to the quiet haven of Mas d’Alezon’s tasting caveau by the church, where Alix Roque was pouring Domaine de Clovallon as well as Faugères.   The 2013 Pinot Noir from Domaine de Clovallon was deliciously refreshing and fragrant with fresh raspberry fruit balanced by some backbone.  And then it was time for lunch!





Friday, 11 July 2014

L’Atelier des Vignerons


Good wine shops or cavistes are few and far between in wine areas.    The assumption is that you go and buy at the cellar door.   But the people who live in the lovely town of Limoux are fortunate for they have the Atelier des Vignerons, which is run by Laurence Turetti.   I was in Limoux last week, so it was a good opportunity to pop in and say hallo.  The shop is tucked into a corner of the main square of Limoux, which is one of my favourite places to watch the world go by.  There are several cafés and restaurants and at this time of year stalls selling melons, peaches and apricots.  

Laurence has a fine selection of wines of the Languedoc, but obviously concentrates on what is closest to home, with a particularly good range of Limoux and Malepère, but with lots else besides to tempt.  It is a lovely shop to browse around, with the wines arranged by appellation, and she is there to offer advice.    She enthused about the region. ‘I am always finding new wines that I want to buy, but I just don’t have enough room to stock everything’.    So what is new? I asked.   

One suggestion was 2012 Oufti, a delicious Fitou from Mas des Caprices in Leucate.  That is a completely unknown name to me.  Apparently Mireille and Pierre Mann come from Belgium and Oufti, an anagram of Fitou, is a Belgium interjection of surprise or relief, maybe translating as Wow! or Phew!   And the wine is delicious, with some lovely fresh peppery fruit, balanced by that firm streak of tannin that is characteristic of Fitou.  It has a slightly rugged note, which you expect with Fitou, and is nicely balanced, and still youthful, with plenty of potential.   So thank you, Laurence.  A great recommendation.   So if anyone happens to be in Limoux, do pop in. 

L’Atelier des Vignerons
2 Place de la République
11300 Limoux
Tel : 04 68 20 12 42

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Terrasses du Larzac – a walk through the vineyards.



For anyone who enjoys the wines of the Languedoc, the annual ballade vigneronne of the Terrasses du Larzac is a must.  This year it was focused on the village of Pégairolles de l’Escalette, which enjoys some of the most dramatic scenery of the whole of the Languedoc.  If you drive south down the A75 motorway from Millau, there is a moment when you come over the pass, the Col de l’Escalette and you have the Languedoc at your feet.  Pégairolles is the first village after that pass, and the vineyards are on steep hillsides to the west of the motorway.  I’ve attempted a few photographs, but they simply do not do justice to the grandeur of the scenery. 




The producers of the Terrasses du Larzac were in festive mood as they have achieved the status of an independent appellation, without any reference to Coteaux du Languedoc or Languedoc.  Depending on when the minister signs the final decree, this should be for the 2014 vintage.    They are fairly optimistic.  The mayor of Pégairolles is a deputy, and his political colours are the same as the appropriate minister …… the out-going president of the syndicat, Vincent Goumard from Cal Demoura is undoubtedly exiting on a high note, and his place will be ably filled by Marie Chauffray from Réserve d’O. 




The walk took the usual format – six stages, with six courses and a total of 44 wines to try.  Don’t worry: I am not going to inflict 44 tasting notes on you, but just a handful of highlights.  However, it is true to say that there is a very high standard of overall quality in the Terrasses du Larzac, defined by the essential freshness of wine that comes from cooler vineyards at higher altitudes. 




The first stage for the mise en bouche included tastes of all three colours, and the more  solid accompaniment was a pink wine jelly with some melon and water melon.  It was quite refreshing, but really a bit sweet for the wines.  And the walk initially was through olives groves and woods.   Evidently a lot of work had been done to create the paths, removing obstacles and even at one point even putting temporary bridges over a small river.  Apparently there are plans to keep the path  open, making it a more permanent oeno-tourist attraction.  That would be a great idea. 




The new owners of Mas Conscience were pouring L’In Blanc, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino and Roussanne, with a touch of Viognier.  Martine and Jean-Luc Quinquarlet of  La Bastide aux Oliviers were offering Pierre et Bastien 2012Bastien was their son who died far too young, and Pierre is a good friend.  It was a wonderful rich glass of wine, with ripe fruit and tapenade and well-integrated oak, after 14 months in barrel.  The price is 25€ -' we’ve never sold a wine for that price before', admitted Jean-Luc.    Olivier Bellet from Clos Rivieral was offering his 2013 Rosé Les Fontanilles, which was mainly Cinsaut with some Syrah and Grenache and was delicate and elegant, with a fresh dry finish.




At the next étape, with a vegetable flan for sustenance, there were a couple of white wines that caught my attention.  La Jasse Castel in Montpeyroux was showing their 2013 L’Egrisée Blanc  made from Grenache blanc, with some Carignan and Roussanne, from vineyards at 400 metres, and aged  on lees, so that it had some appealing minerality balanced with white blossom and good acidity, for 12.50€  And Domaine du Dausso, an estate that I have yet to visit was pouring L’Inattendu blanc, a blend of 95% Vermentino with a touch of Roussanne, with some very appealing herbal fruit on both nose and palate, balanced by fresh acidity, and for just 8.90€ a bottle.




On  through vineyards and past stone walls and capitelles and more great scenery for an effiloché de canard, which  might best be described as a bit of shredded duck with some hints of orange.   Wines to go with it included Graeme Angus’s Les Trois Terres 2011 Saut du Diable, which was ripe and rounded with a fresh finish – classic Terrasses du Larzac.  We then tried Jean-Baptiste Granier's 2012 Les Vignes Oubliees with fresh spice, followed by Rémi Duchemin’s Plan de l’Homme Habilis. That is a blend of Grenache with Syrah and Carignan and is ripe and spicy and refreshingly unoaked.   All three were lovely wines, and there were others.




The meat course, a serious chunk of beef filet, was accompanied by several serious bottles.    2011 Domaine Montcalmès was elegant and fresh; Mas Séranne  Clos des Immortelles 2012 had some lovely peppery fruit – it comes from all five red varieties, but mainly Syrah and Carignan.  2011 les Etats d’Ame from Mas Jullien was elegantly smoky and stylish, as one would expect from Olivier Jullien.  Isabelle and Vincent Goumard of Cal Demoura were pouring 2012 l’Infidèle which was nicely rounded and mineral with a touch of oak.   Délphine Rousseau and Julien Zernott from Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette were there with Grand Pas 2010.  This is of course very much their home patch.  And Olivier Jeantet from Mas Haut Buis was showing Costa Caoude.  The name may imply heat, but the wine had a fresh finish.




A cool track along a small river took us to the road that led into Pégairolles which is a pretty circulade village.  In the place de l’Eglise we found the cheese course, with plenty of red wines to go with it.   Guilhem Dardé of Mas des Chimeres was offering 2011 Nuit Grave, mainly Syrah with some Grenache and Mourvèdre with touch of tapenade and some good fruit.   





Jérémie Depierre from Domaine la Peira was pouring 2011 Les Obrières, a blend of Cinsaut and Carignan with a little Mourvèdre and Grenache and unusually no Syrah, with some lovely fruit, with spice and herbs of the  garrigues, and supple tannins, for 12€.  Hissez O from La Réserve d’O was rounded and ripe, and Gavin Crisfield’s  La Traversée 2011 was perfumed, fresh and elegant.



The route took us round pass the château, allowing us the chance to admire an elegant galleried courtyard.  I wasn’t in the mood for dessert but there were some lovely red wines instead, but first Pascal Dalier from Domaine de Joncas was offering his rosé, 2013 Nebla, which was refreshing with strawberry fruit and acidity.   




There was a new estate, Domaine de l’Argenteille from St. Saturnin.  Roger Jeanjean explained that he has absolutely nothing to do with the much better known Jeanjean family.  His father had vines in St. Saturnin,  as did his uncle who had been the first director of the coop of St. Saturnin until 1985.  And his 2012 Garric was a blend of equal parts of Syrah, Mourvèdre and old Carignan with 10% Grenache, with a touch of oak.  It was nicely made with a good fruit and a hint of tapenade, showing some ageing potential.  




Béatrice Fillon from Clos du Serres was pouring 2012 Blaca which was quite rich and powerful with some tapenade and a fresh finish.  Philippe Gros from Domaine Fabregous was showing the most mature wine of the tasting, 2008 Sentier Botanique which was rounded and harmonious with a touch of spice and a satisfying note of maturity.  It made a great finale to the occasion.     





Sunday, 6 July 2014

Back in the Languedoc


One of the first things we do when we arrive at our house, especially after a 982 mile drive from London, is chose some wine for dinner.  Imagine our panic when the key to what passes as our cellar, an insulated walk-in cupboard in our garage, was not in its usual place, in the lock.   Fortunately a spare was found; we weren’t even sure that we had one.   And then I noticed empty spaces in the wine rack and one or two boxes out of place.  Further investigation revealed a garage door that was not properly locked.   It seems that our thieves have a sweet tooth.  They had gone for the part of the wine rack with dessert wines, and they seemed to have good taste.  Gone were bottles of La Croix Belle’s  Solenque and Rives Blanques' Lagamas d’Aur, not to mention a rare bottle of Marie-Thérèse Chappaz’s dessert wine from the Valais.  And for good measure they had helped themselves to a bottle of Pineau de Charente, given to us by friends from Cognac, leaving the empty box by the cellar door.   And further investigation revealed that they also liked champagne, but not Blanquette, and appreciated port………

Affronted at their audacity, and relieved that our thieves were obviously on foot, and not cleared out the cellar, we needed some liquid consolation.   The first bottle was 2010 la Rupture from Domaine Turner Pageot.  This is one of the best, if not the best Sauvignon from the Languedoc.  It has wonderful minerality and great texture and mouth feel, with a fine balance of acidity and fruit, and is packed with character.  A delicious glass of wine.

And our red choice was a random bottle of 2008 Borie de Maurel, Belle de Nuit from the Minervois, produced by Michel Escande in Félines-Minervois.   It was drinking beautifully, with some ripe fruit and a fresh finish, despite the 14.5˚ alcohol.  There was a touch of tapenade and a touch of spice and some and harmonious tannins.  It was all in balance.

It is amazing how a glass or two of good wine helps soothe ruffled feathers.   We felt much better.    And now to organise a better lock to the cellar door. 



Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Languedoc at the London Wine Fair


The big Languedoc event at the London Wine Fair was the tasting of the winning Top 100 Wines.   See my previous post.  But there were other delights on smaller stands.  A new event this year was Esoterica, which grouped together a wonderfully eclectic collection of small importers and wine merchants, people who would not normally want to exhibit at the fair, but were able to,  thanks to the simplicity of the presentation - a table and some bottles and glasses.  There was a real buzz of excitement.   I found myself tasting wines from Greece and Long Island, but there were also some Languedoc highlights. Expression du Terroir, which is an arm of Borough Wines, in London N16 has some interesting Languedoc offering, C de Centeilles, Clos du Serres, Virgile Joly and Turner Pageot.  However, I passed these by as I was seeking out the unfamiliar at this point.

However I did stop to taste Domaine la Tour Vieille with Christine Campadieu wines on the Yapp Bros stand.   She and her partner Vincent make lovely Collioure and Banyuls that I had not tasted for a while.

2012 Collioure Blanc les Canadells, a blend of Grenache Blanc, with 10% each of Rolle, Marsanne and Roussanne.   Quite a closed young nose.  Not as expressive as some vintages, but with some lovely potential on the palate.  Rounded fruit and textured palate.   It would benefit from a little more bottle age.

2012 Collioure, la Pinède
Grenache with some Carignan aged in small barrel.  Ripe spice on both nose and palate, with the warmth of Roussillon.  Ripe and young with plenty of potential

2012 Collioure Puig Oriol
70% Syrah with Grenache.   Quite a contrast.  More structured, concentrated and peppery.  Quite dense firm ripe fruit. Again with ageing potential.

Banyuls Reserve
Aged in bonbons , with an average age of five or six years.  Some appealing rich raisiny fruit.  Rich and intense with ripe fruit and quite delicious.  It was in fact my finale to the fair.

And earlier in the morning I had passed by Chateau d’Anglès for a quick update with Eric and Vianney Fabre.  I had missed the la Clape walk this year, so wanted a catch up.   They are very pleased with their 2013s, describing it as a fantastic vintage.  The cool nights and the late harvest have kept the aromas in the grapes.  They began picking in mid-September finishing at the end of October.

2011 La Clape Blanc, Classique.
Sappy fresh acidity and some weight.  Nice texture.   Very harmonious and rounded. 

2011 Grand Vin Blanc
More weight, with the influence of oak.  Rounded, herbal hints and more depth.  Again very satisfying mouth feel.

2013 Rosé Classique.
Pale colour.  Youthful and fresh, but still a touch amylic, but that will disappear in a month or so.   Elegant with sufficient weight to make it a food rosé.

2010 Classique red
Syrah and Grenache with a little Mourvèdre.  Rounded ripe warm fruit, with restraint.

2009 Grand Vin.  
Quite firm and structured on the nose, and on the palate very good depth of flavour, with ripe fruit.  Again warmth, but with restraint.  More weight and body than the Classique, but not heavy.   You can sense the bordelais touch to Eric’s wines.





Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Faugères Fête




My good friend Michele Solans who works hard to spread the word about the appellation of Faugères, particularly wants the word spread about the Grand St. Jean, which is the annual Faugères fête.  This year will be the 20th fête and it will be held on Sunday 13th July.  If you have never been to the Grand St. Jean, as it is called, do go,  as it is great fun, and provides a great opportunity to taste lots of different wines, with each vigneron pouring their own wines, so a good opportunity for a chat too.  Entry is 3€ for a tasting glass, and it lasts all day from 10 a.m to 7 p.m.   There is also a lunch and some evening entertainment.  For more details check out the website www.faugeres.com


Friday, 20 June 2014

Highlights from the Top 100 Languedoc-Roussillon


Competitions like this are only as good as the entrants.   The 100 wines that were selected came from 69 producers.  At times the selection seems to be dominated by the big players, the likes of Jean-Claude Mas and Gérard Bertrand, not to mention various cooperatives.  Sometimes I wish the smaller, less well known wine growers would see it for the opportunity that it is.  A trophy here could get your wines very much better known on the difficult export market.   Anyway what follows is a snapshot of some of the highlights.

NV Domaine Rosier, Blanquette de Limoux
I’ve not encountered this estate before, and their website was remarkably uninformative, so I can’t tell you more. The palate was light and lemony with some fresh fruit and acidity.   But a week later I got to taste a whole range of delicious Blanquette and Crémant at a Sud de France tasting at the French Ambassador’s Residence.  There was a particularly delicious Cuvée Heritage 2010 with some rich leesy fruit.  I am promising myself another visit to Limoux to investigate further.  The old family firm of Antech also performed well, with both a Blanquette and a Crémant.  

As the statistics showed, white wines did particularly well, with white wines accounting for 40% of the Top 100, against a regional production of only 13%.   I am skipping notes on a host of Chardonnay as I do find Chardonnay from the Midi singularly uninspiring – there’s nothing wrong with them, but just not much to really enthuse about.  More exciting were wines with more southern characteristics.    Viognier can produce good results in the Midi.  I particularly like 2013 Domaine de Castelnau, L’Ile, Pays d’Oc with some lovely peachy fruit.  It was fresh and rounded and very appealing.  This estate also won a trophy for its L’Epicerie de Castelnau, a blend of Colombard and Muscat à petits grains, which was pithy with dry honey.   And the Best White trophy went to Laurent Miquel, another large producer, but he does seem to have a very special knack with Viognier, as shown in his 2012 Verité Viognier, with some peachy fruit and depth, with a touch of oak.   Domaine de la Rencontre has a lovely Muscat Sec, Pays l’Hérault, with fresh pithy grapey fruit.  They are a great example of a new and up and coming small producer, with great energy and emerging talent.

I have a soft spot for Domaine Félines Jourdan’s Picpoul, although this time it was their Roussanne  95% and Picpoul 5% blend that featured in the line up, while les Costières de Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet from Naked Wine won the Picpoul trophy for fresh salty fruit. 

There were some other lovely examples of white wine, with intriguing blends of grape varieties.    2012 Château Bas d’Aumelas, is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, which was round and fragrant.  2013 Château Puech Haut, Prestige, a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne and Carignan Gris was rich and leesy with some white blossom on the palate.  Château des Estanilles Inverso, is a blend of  Marsanne and Roussanne, with some fragrant fruit.   There was an intriguing Minervois from Château de Paraza, a blend of Roussanne and Grenache Blanc which was delicate and floral.  And another Minervois from Château Tourril, a more or less pure Roussanne, with some rich leesy fruit and some oak.. This is another estate that is new to me, that I also encountered a week later at the Sud de France tasting.  Limoux also featured, mostly with wines from the Coop, Sieur d’Arques, but also Domaine Cathare, Melhorier, yet another new name, and a pure Chardonnay with rounded characterful leesy fruit.  On the strength of this one wine which won a trophy, this estate is another reason to visit Limoux.  And the final white was a textured and characterful Côtes du Roussillon De Ci De La from Domaine Modat, a blend of Grenache Blanc and Gris with some Macabeu and a mouthful of rich leesy fruit.

Rosés were poorly represented.  For some reason they did not shine at the tasting, but the trophy winner, Château de Lascaux, a blend of Cinsaut, Grenache Blanc and Syrah was delicate and fresh.  This Pic St. Loup estate was supported by a couple of rosés from the coop at St. Mathieu de Tréviers, Les Coteaux du Pic.

And now on to reds:  Highlights came from the Cave de Roquebrun, which came up with four very convincing wines, of which my favourite was Chemin des Olivettes with lovely spicy tapenade fruit.  2012 Domaine de Cébène Felgaria was showing deliciously with elegant spicy fruit.  There were a pair of wines from Mas Gabinèle, in Faugères, Rarissime and Inaccessible, which were finely crafted with stylish flavours,  Faugères was on a winning run, with yet another wine Château des Estanilles, Raison d’Etre.  

Corbières showed well.  I also liked 2011 Château du Vieux Parc, Sélection Rouge, a blend of Grenache Noir, Syrah with some rugged fruit and rich flavours.  Château Ollieux Romanis Atal Sia was another serious Corbières, with rich gutsy flavours.  And the winner of the  Best Red of was Mas Amiel, Vers le Nord.  The decision is a democratic vote; I was actually a dissenter here and I do not know which wine was the runner up.  This Maury Sec, a blend of Grenache with a dollop of Syrah, was rich and redolent of ripe liqueur cherries.

As for dessert wines, I also enjoyed two further offerings from Mas Amiel, their Muscat de Rivesaltes, which was fresh and honeyed with a grapey finish, and their 2011 Maury which was redolent of ripe black fruit and spice.  The trophy for the best fortified wine went to Le Manoir des Schistes, 2009 Maury with intense fruit from 80 year old Grenache vines.    So all in all, lots of delicious wines in the Top 100. 





Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Languedoc grape varieties in Chile.


Chile has a great ambassador for its wines, Master of Wine Peter Richards who drinks and breathes Chile and writes and talks about it on every possible occasion.  He presented a seminar at the recent London Wine Fair.  His theme was Chile, Regionality and Innovation and his enthusiasm was infectious.  There were at least three wines that I wanted to go out and buy straight away.   One was a Pinot Noir, so not within the scope of this blog, but the other two had a distinctly Languedoc flavour.

2012 Errazuriz The Blend Collection from the Aconcagua Valley.  A blend of 50% Marsanne, 38% Roussanne and 12% Viognier.  Retail price £33 and imported by Hatch Mansfield.  

Peter used this wine to demonstrate the success of Mediterranean blends in Chile and to show how Roussanne and Marsanne are gaining in importance there.  These vines were planted in 1999, so they are still fairly young.  The Marsanne provides structure and extract, Roussanne freshness and Viognier some perfume.   And the result was delicious. Light golden colour.  Some leafy notes; some floral notes and a leesy note on the nose.  There is a little oak ageing, but nothing too obvious, so that the palate is rounded with good acidity and really appealing mouth feel, textured and harmonious, youthful and balanced.     It would be fascinating to drink alongside a similar blend from the Languedoc.

 2013 Montes Wines Outer Limits Cinsaut from the Itata valley.   $15.99 retail and the UK importer is Liberty Wines. 

The blend is 85% Cinsaut with a dollop of Mourvèdre.  This wine had that lovely fresh cherry fruit that I associate with Cinsaut.  Quite a deep young colour, and ripe fresh fruit on both the nose and palate, with some appealing spice, and a streak of tannin and some acidity to the finish, which provides the freshness.   

Again Peter chose this wine for its innovative features.  With their range Outer Limits, Montes are encouraging their winemakers to experiment, and Itata is a region that we shall hear more of.   This Cinsaut is not intended to be an ambitious wine, but something delicious to drink.  I even wondered if it would have been even more delicious without the Mourvèdre.

 2011 Morandé Mediterráneo del Maule, a blend of 54% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 4% Marsanne, 20% Carignan and 3% Roussanne.  £22.29 – UK importer Barwell and Jones. 

This was fascinating.  The Marsanne and Syrah were co-fermented, as were the Carignan and Roussanne.  2011 was the first vintage of this wine, and again Peter showed it to illustrate Chile’s potential for Mediterranean grape varieties.  Deep young colour, with quite a closed young nose, with pepper, perfume and oak on the palate. The palate is still very intense and youthful with dense red fruit and youthful tannins.  It will be intriguing to see how it develops.

 All three wines show Chile’s potential for Mediterranean grape varieties, illustrating a shift away from the varieties of Bordeaux.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Languedoc around the tastings - Part III - Majestic


2013 Pied Tanqué Blanc, Vin de France  - £5.49
A blend of Terret, Ugni Blanc and Colombard.  Slightly honeyed nose. Soft and lightly aromatic, but really a bit non-descript  Pied Tanqué is apparently the original name of the game pétanque, and means anchored feet. 

2013 Symbiose Piquepoul Sauvignon, Cuvée Florence - £7.64
Half Picpoul half Sauvignon.  Quite firm and pithy with a dry salty note, but I couldn’t help feeling that both would have been better off without the other.

2013 Villemarin Picpoul de Pinet - £7.64
This comes from the Pinet coop. It is delicate and fresh with a salty tang.  Medium weight.  Bring on the seafood. 

2013 Paul Mas Vermentino, Pays d’Oc  - £7.64
Light colour. Quite a firm dry nose, and light rounded palate, with fresh sappy fruit.  A sound example of Vermentino

2013 Chardonnay Réserve Spéciale, Gérard Bertrand.  - £7.49
I am not sure where these grape comes from, but Gerard Bertrand is one of the big players of the Languedoc, with vineyards all over the region.    And this simply confirmed my prejudices about Chardonnay in the Midi.  Dry oak and the nose and palate, and just a bit flat and lacking in oomph or depth.

2013 Pied Tanqué Rosé, Vin de France - £5.49
Cinsaut with a little Grenache.  Pale colour and slightly sweet and a bit stewed.  Not my idea of rosé.

2013 Pied Tanqué Rouge Vin de France - £5.49
A blend of Carignan, Grenache and a little Merlot. I couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for this either. The nose is quite ripe, with some soft fruit on the palate, and a light tannic streak, but it finishes a little thin in the mouth.

2013 Domaine Ferrandière, Pays d’Oc, Pinot Noir - £9.99
From the village of Aigues-Vives.  Aged in oak for four months.  Light fresh fruit on the nose.  Dry raspberry fruit on the palate.  Mediumweight.  Easy drinking and a good example of a variety that can be particularly tricky in the Languedoc. 

2013 Paul Mas Merlot, Pays d’Oc -  £8.99
Quite rounded rip and plumy.  Soft fruit and a tad confected on the finish. 

2013 Alain Grignon Carignan Vieilles Vignes, Pays de l’Herault - £7.99
Quit ripe rounded supple fruit, with an acidic edge.  I’ve had better old Carignan.

2011 Esprit de Pennautier, Cabardès - £19.99
Cabardès is where the varieties of the south meet those of Bordeaux.  This is a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French oak for at least 12 months.  Heavy bottle.  Quite solid dense oak on the nose. Quite a ripe rounded sturdy palate.   It needs time. 


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Languedoc around the tastings Part II - Waitrose

Quite a large selection from  Waitrose; some good, some less exciting. 

2013 Villa Blanche Pinot Noir Pays d’Oc, Calmel & Joseph - £8.99
Pinot Noir sourced in Limoux.  Medium colour.  Quite a ripe fresh nose and on the palate some rounded ripe fruit.  Good varietal character, fresh strawberry fruit with a streak of tannin.   A refreshing summer red.

2013 Montgravet Cabernet Merlot, Vin de France - £5.99
A rounded nose with some spicy cassis.  Goes a bit jammy on the palate, with a streak of tannin.   The Midi is not the best place for Bordeaux grape varieties, with exceptions of course.

2013 Waitrose Southern French Grenache, Pays d’Oc - £7.99
Pure Grenache from a block of old vines in the Gard. Ripe perfumed fruit on nose and palate, but finishes a little jammy. 

2012 Bijou Cuvée Sophie Valrose, Cabrières - £7.99
From the Cabrières coop which does a pretty good job for its appellation.  Quite a firm nose, and on the palate some slightly dusty warm fruit, with a touch of garrigues, and a sturdy finish.

2012 Domaine Marie, Faugères - £8.49
Do not confuse this with Clos Marie from Pic St. Loup.  This comes from a négociant in Perpignan.  And has some soft easy spice, making for easy drinking, but with no great depth.  I would have expected better Faugères from Waitrose.  

2012 Château de Caraguilhes, Corbières - £9.99
Quite a deep colour, with solid rounded gusty nose, and on the palate ripe tapenade and black cherry fruit. Ripe and supple with good spice and some balancing tannin.  Lovely warming Corbières.

2012 Gourmandises Cabernet Sauvignon, Pays d’Oc - £8.99
Pure Cabernet Sauvignon with some rounded blackcurrant fruit on the nose, and sweet ripe palate with a streak of tannin.  The sort of wine I could happily live without.   Not at all gourmand

2013 Costières de Nimes, Esprit des Trois Terres  - £7.79
A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.  This was delicious.  Lovely ripe rounded spicy fruit, with supple tannins.   Easy drinking.

And one of the best Syrahs of the tasting came not from the Midi but from South Africa:. 

2012 Mullineux Syrah, Swartland. - £18.99  
It is of course rather more expensive than any of the Midi offerings.  Medium colour.  Solid spicy fruit on nose and palate.  Some leathery notes.  Rich, ripe and characterful.  And a stunning example of the growing success of southern varieties in the Cape. 
  
2013 Montgravet Rosé, Vin de France - £5.99
A pure Cinsaut. Light colour, light fresh nose and palate.  Soft easy fruity drinking and good value.   

2013 Domaine Sainte Rose, Pays d’Oc, Coquille d’Oc - £7.49
40%  each of Grenache and Syrah, with 20% Mourvèdre.   Pale orange pink.  Light nose.  Quite crisp and fresh on the palate with good acidity, and refreshing dry raspberry fruit.   A lovely glass of rosé.

2013 Cabrières rosé, Cuvée Sophie Valrose.   - £8.49
50% Cinsaut with 40% Grenache and 10% Syrah.   The original reputation of Cabrières is based on rosé.  Light colour.  Lightly rounded nose and palate, with rounded raspberry fruit on the palate, and a rounded vinous finish.   Nicely satisfying.

2013 Waitrose Southern French Sauvignon Blanc. Pays d’Oc  - £7.99
Sauvignon with a touch of Vermentino grown in the Bassin de Thau.  Firm pithy fruit on nose and palate.   Definitely more Sauvignon than Vermentino, with good varietal character and good value.  An exception to my rule that Sauvignon does not do well in the Midi.

2013 Côte  Mas, Vermentino, Pays d’Oc - £8.49
Yet another offering from Jean-Claude Mas, though the only one in this tasting.  Quite solid and sappy on the nose; rounded, ripe and supple on the palate.  

2013 Picpoul de Pinet, Domaines Félines –Jourdan  - £8.99
A lovely example of Picpoul de Pinet.  Fresh and pithy with lovely sappy, salty fruit.

2013 Viognier, Laurent Miquel, Vendanges Nocturnes, Pays d’Oc - £8.99
Grapes picked in the cool of the night.  Quite a ripe peachy fruit with good balancing acidity and a touch of ginger.   Medium weight, so less opulent than some Viognier.

Majestic coming up next.
























Monday, 9 June 2014

The Languedoc around the tastings; part I

The Languedoc around the tastings 

A variety of tastings in the last few weeks have thrown up some very drinkable Languedoc wines, and others that were not so appealing.

Laithwaites.

The best here was:

2011 Les Fiefs d’Aupenac, St. Chinian Roquebrun - £14.99
The Roquebrun coop really works well for its appellation and this is a stunning example of their talent.   A blend of 60% Syrah, with 20% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre. Quite a deep colour and on the nose some black fruit and tapenade.  The palate is rounded and ripe, with a firm tannic streak, rich and mouth filling.  Good warming gutsy wine, and just the thing for a cool summer’s evening.

There were two other offerings

2013 Château Portal, Cuvée les Molières, Minervois - £10.99
50 % Syrah, 25% Grenache and 25% Carignan, with six months ageing in oak.  I found this a bit too sweet, with an edge of acidity as well as tannin.    It is probably just too young and still rather adolescence.

And I thought the same about 2013 Domaine de la Madeleine, Côtes Catalanes, with 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, which was rich and sweet. 

Sainsbury’s:

2013 Picpoul de Pinet.   -  £8.00
Quite soft and rounded, with some stony fruit. Easy drinking, but no great depth.

Languedoc White 2013 Taste the Difference  - £8.00
40%  Grenache, 30% Marsanne and 30% Vermentino from the ubiquitous Jean Claude Mas.  As you will see, he features quite a lot in these tastings.   A small part of the blend has been in oak.  The nose is quite floral, with white blossom and the palate is soft and rounded, with gentle fruit.  Easy drinking.

2013 Elegant Frog Viognier - £8.75
From Jean Claude Mas again and a good example of the variety, with some firm peachy fruit on both nose and palate.  A small percentage of the wine is fermented and aged in oak to give a bit more depth.

Languedoc Red 2013 Taste the Difference. - £8.00
A blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 20% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre.  - £8.00
Yet another offering from |Jean-Claude Mas.  I would have expected more, in fact to be able to taste the difference.  This was ripe and sweet, with 2 gms/l residual sugar and also a streak of stalky tannin.  Come on; you can do better than that.  Maybe it is too young, but the residual sugar makes it cloying and unbalanced.


More in a day or two, and I do not want to overwhelm you with one large post.  

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Stone, Vine & Sun for Languedoc Wines


The Winchester wine merchant, Stone Vine & Sun makes Languedoc-Roussillon a bit of a speciality.   Here are some highlights from their recent London tasting.

It kicked off to a good start with a pair of sparklers:

NV Domaine J. Laurens, Blanquette de L:Imoux Brut, le Moulin, - £12.75
Very good mousse. Rounded creamy freshness on the nose and palate.  Very good acidity.  Fresh and frothy.

2011 Crémant de Limoux Brut, les Graimenous  - £13.95
From the same producer.  Quite rounded creamy nutty fruit and on the palate rounded ripe and lightly nutty.  The pair illustrated the difference between Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux. 

And now for some white:

2013 Creyssels, Picpoul de Pinet.  - £8.75
There are times when I think I can’t get enough of this grape variety.  Firm stony nose.  Quite rounded sappy fruit.  Fresh and rounded.  

2013 Château des Karantes, Languedoc blanc, Bergerie - £11.50
A blend of Bourboulenc and Marsanne.  Rounded white flowers on the nose.  Quite a fragrant palate.  Ripe rounded and herbal with a salty notes and some satisfying depth.  A lovely glass of wine, showing the underrated potential of the Languedoc for white wine.

2012 Domaine Begude, Exotique Haute Vallée de l’Aude. - £11.25
The only clue as to the grape variety is a discreet GV on the side of the back label, to indicate a grape that is more commonly grown in Austria, Grüner Veltliner.  And it is a very good example of the variety.  Quite a fragrant nose, with some spicy herbal fruit, acidity and nice mouth feel.   Well done James for thinking outside the Languedoc box.   

2013 Domaine la Croix Belle, Champs des Lys, Côtes de Thongue - £9.75
A blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier.  Quite rounded and fragrant and on the palate, with rounded peachy fruit and soft acidity.

2012 Domaines Belles Pierres, Les Clauzes de Jo - £12/.25
A blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier.  Quite a soft ripe nose.  Well integrated oak.  Nicely perfumed palate with a rounded finish.

A small selection of rosés included:

2013 Preignes le Vieux, Reserve Rosé, Coteaux du Libron - £7.50
Light colour.  Light fresh nose.  Lightly perfumed raspberry fruit.  A refreshing rosé.

2013 Domaine du Météore Faugères Rosée, les Léonides - £9.95
Light pink.  Fragrant herbal garrigues fruit on nose and palate. Good acidity with fresh fruit.  A lovely rosé. 

Stars amongst the reds:

2012 Château des Karantes, Languedoc Rouge, Terres des Karantes - £9.50
Young colour. Rounded ripe fruit on the nose, and on the palate quite solid tapenade fruit with a firm tannin streak.  This estate is better known for La Clape.

2011 Château des Karantes, La Clape -   £18.50
Deep colour. Quite a firm palate.  Quite ripe but quite elegant, with well integrated oak on the palate.  A tannic streak balancing appealing fruit.  Still quite youthful.

2011 Corbières Domaine du Grand Arc, Cuvée de Quarante - £11.50
Medium colour. Quite solid oak on nose and palate.  Quite sturdy with firm fruit.  Solid dense and youthful with ageing potential.

2009 Domaine du Météore, Faugères, les Orionides - £12.50
They really do have a vineyard at the bottom of a meteor crater.  Deep colour. Quite rich spicy nose.  Medium weight with dry spice.   Meaty and rich and characterful. 

2011 Domaine Fontanel, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Cistes - £14.50
Medium colour.  Rich spicy fruit on the nose, and on the palate more ripe fruit, with a streak of tannin.  Mouth filling, ripe and warm. 

And a couple of lovely sweet wines to conclude.

2001 Domaine Fontanel, Rivesaltes Ambré  - £15.50
Amber colour.  Lightly nutty on the palate and quite sweet nutty fruit on the palate.  Delicious

2011 Domaine Fontanel, Maury - £17.50

Quite a deep young colour.  Ripe sweet orange and red fruit on nose and palate.  Ripe with some acidity and tannin and a fresh sweet finish.     We should drink more of these lovely dessert wines from the south.  

Friday, 30 May 2014

Yapp Bros and the Languedoc


Once upon a time Yapp Brothers in Mere were pioneers in the Rhone and Loire Valleys, but these days they have greatly extended their expertise to cover the whole of the south of France, not just the Languedoc.    A couple of weeks ago they hosted a tasting of rosés and other summer wines, held very bravely outside, in a restaurant courtyard,  fortunately on a much sunnier day than today.  There were several delicious highlights, which illustrated the diversity of good rosés. .

2013 Les Filles de Septembre, Côtes de Thongue rosé,  - £9.75
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Grenache and Cinsaut.  Pretty pale orange pink.  Quite ripe and rounded on the nose.  Nicely mouth filling.  Elegant with some vinosity.  Understated.  A food wine.


2013 Domaine Pieretti, Coteaux du Cap Corse - £15.50
From Nielluccio, Alicante and Grenache Noir. Delicate colour, pale orange pink, with light  fruit on the nose.  Fresh and fragrant, but with a firm backbone.  More of a food rosé, with a good balance of acidity.

2013 Domaine Saparale, Vin de Corse Sartène Rosé - £14.95
From one of the leading estates of Sartène.  A blend of Sciacarello, Nielluccio and Vermentino.  A very pretty pale pink.  Light dry nose.  Delicate and fresh on the palate. Lightly salty and sappy, with an elegant concentration of fruit.

2013 Clos Sainte Magdeleine, Cassis Rosé - £19.95
Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsaut.    Cassis may be better known for its white wines, but if this is anything to go by, the rosés are good too.  Pale orange pink colour.  A light nose, with delicate fruit on the palate, with a certain concentration and weight.  Fresh and fragrant, with an elegant finish.

2011 Domaine de la Source,  Bellet Rosé -  £25.50
I have a soft spot for Bellet.   The vineyards are part of the commune of Nice, up in the hills behind the city centre.  The wines are expensive, as the wine growers are fighting a battle with urban developers.  The grape variety is Braquet.  Orange pink colour.  Ripe herbal fruit and on the palate, with some firm acidity.  Quite rich and textured.   A food rosé.

2013 Château la Canorgue, Côtes du Luberon Rosé  - £13.95
Grenache and Syrah.  Quite a vivid pink.  Ripe rounded strawberry fruit on both nose and palate, with firm acidity.  Quite ripe and vinous, with a rounded finish.

2013 Château Roubaud, Costières de Nimes - £11.50
Syrah and Grenache.  Quite a vivid bright pink.  A rounded nose.  Raspberry fruit on both nose and palate, with a dry rounded vinous finish.  Not as elegant as some.

2013 Mas de la Rouvière, Bandol Rosé – £18.50
Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and Grenache.  A very palate pretty colour.  A delicate nose.  Quite a rounded palate, and quite powerful and ripe.  A good balance, with some body.

There were also a couple of whites:
2012 Domaine Camp Galhan, Cuvée Amalie, Duché d’Uzès  - £12.25
A blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne.  Light colour.  A delicate nose, with some perfumed peachy Viognier, making a rounded textured palate, with a touch of bitterness on the finish.

2012 Clos Sainte Magdeleine Cassis Blanc,  - £19.50
A blend of Marsanne, Clairette, Ugni Blanc.  Light colour.  Quite a rich leesy nose.  Characterful palate, with good acidity, with herbal notes and a salty tang.  Nicely intriguing.   Cassis is not cheap either, for the same reason as for Bellet.  Land is valuable around this pretty sailing village.

As for red wines, there was a Corbières estate that I have not come across before:
2012 Domaine Py, Cuvée Mondière, in the village of Douzens.  - £10.25
A blend of Carignan, Syrah and Grenache.  Medium colour.  A rounded nose.  Dry spice on the palate, with some fresh fruit.   And quite a gutsy characterful finish, that makes you think of the wild Corbières hills.

And a sweet note with which to finish:

2012 Domaine Pieretti, Muscat du Cap Corse.
Pure Muscat à petits grains, and lightly fortified to 15.5.  Light golden.  Very perfumed Muscat nose.  Rounded grapey Muscat fruit on the palate, with well integrated alcohol and a slightly bitter finish.


Friday, 16 May 2014

The 2014 Montpeyroux fete


I always enjoy the annual Montpeyroux fete.  It's a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and also to see what is new.  This year it was held on Easter Sunday.  After a brilliantly sunny warm week, the weather broke overnight and we awoke to a cold wind and rain, but undeterred, I donned my new waterproof jacket and set off to Montpeyroux.   This year there were twenty-two wine growers, just from this one small village.  



The newest, Mas de la Fée Nomène, comprises just 90 ares.  Nany Taverna is a true garagiste, operating out of her garage on the edge of the village and she made  just 3000 bottles for her first vintage in 2012.   Her wine is a blend of Carignan, Syrah and Grenache, pressed with a small basket press and aged in a stainless steel vat.  It has some lovely fresh fruit on the nose and on the palate, a firm tannic streak, with ripe, youthful fruit and a fresh finish.  A lovely debut, and for 12 a bottle.



Another new estate, for me was le Petit Domaine with Aurélien Petit, except that I had encountered him  a week earlier at the bio fair at Domaine de la Tour, but it was sympa to renew the acquaintance.   And in any case my tasting buddy, Lits, was keen to try his wines.   There's a great  Chenin, with rich dry honey, given 24 hours of skin contact and fermented and aged in wood until February. Aurélien makes just two barrels from 25 ares.   It has lovely texture and satisfying mouth feel.  18.00

He makes his Syrah  three different ways.  There is a long maceration lasting about three weeks, a short five days maceration and some carbonic maceration, for three weeks before pressing the grapes.  Each is given a separate élevage and then either blended altogether to make a peppery wine with fresh fruit, 12.00 or the different components are blended with other varieties as Aurélien sees fit. 

So 2013 Cyclops consists of Carignan, without wood ageing and blended with the short maceration Syrah that has spent a couple of months in oak.  It is rounded and ripe, with that appealing touch of rusticity that you get from Carignan, combined with a firm streak of tannin. 12.00

2012 Rhapsody  is mainly Carignan, made by carbonic maceration, with a little of the carbonic maceration Syrah.  It was not as satisfying as Cyclops, especially at nearly twice the price. 21.00.

And we finished with Titan, Syrah with a little Carignan, given 12 months ageing in oak, with solid red fruit and a firm structured palate, requiring some bottle age.  24.00



I renewed my acquaintance with Pascal Dalier from Domaine Joncas.  His white wine from Grenache Gris, made in concrete eggs, is rich and satisfying, with white blossom and fresh fruit. 18.00.  There are just 492 bottles

Then Pascal proffered a mystery wine.  What do you think this?  I was stumped.  It was very intriguing; there were herbal notes, and a slight bitterness on the finish, but some good acidity.  The answer was Riesling, which you certainly do not expect to find in the Languedoc.

2012 Joia is a blend of 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah, with fresh fruit and some leathery notes, a nice balance of fruit and tannin and an elegant finish.  And we finished with Nebla, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with fresh red fruit and firm leathery notes, and more depth than Joia.    Pascal now has 8.5 hectares, and a new cellar that I have yet to visit.



Jo Lynch and André Suquet's wines from Villa Dondona were drinking / tasting very well that day.  The white Esperel was fresh and leafy; pink Esquisse was delicate and herbal, 2012 Carignan was quite perfumed with a tannic streak; 2012 Villa Dondona was youthful and tight knit, with good fruit, but needing some bottle ageing, and 2011 Oppidum was rounded and oaky with a youthful gutsy finish.

Then Jo sent us off to see her oenologist, Jean Natoli, who is not yet officially Montpeyroux and I am not really meant to write about him in the context of the fete, as he wasn't supposed to be there, so I will save him for a cellar visit - he makes his own wine at Mas des Quernes, as well as running a very efficient oenology cabinet.



Amélie d'Hurlaborde was offering a treat, all three vintages of her old Carignan.  2012 is solid and rounded, quite dense and textured, with ripe fruit and soyeux tannins making for a rounded mouthful of flavour.

2011 has great depth with smoky fruit; it was dense and ripe and like the 2012 will repay bottle ageing.  And 2010, her very first vintage has firm fruit with an elegant balance of tannin and a fine finish.  And she has her very first vintage of Montpeyroux, from Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, in vat.  I can't wait to taste it.

Other delights included Alain Chabanon's Campredon, and 2010 Trélans with some elegant dry honeyed Chenin. 



Christine Commeyras from Domaine l'Aiguelière was showing older vintages of Côte Dorée and Côte Rousse, 2009, 2008 and 2006 with my good friend Bernard Bardou helping her on her stand.   I've always found these wines quite heavy and solid, but Bernard's enthusiasm was quite catching, so I was prepared to give them a fresh look.  They certainly taste younger than the vintages might indicate, with some intense use of oak and notes of black fruit and firm tannins.



We briefly checked out Clos d'Aven.  Their first vintage was 2005 and they have just 1.5 hectares.  Le Petit Clos is ripe and rounded with dense fruit while 2009 le Clos d'Aven was dry and leathery and 2010 Balzac Noir had ripe vanilla fruit with a firm tannic streak and an intense finish.  I liked le Petit Clos best.



Le Mas de Bertrand was another new name, to me, and is associated with Domaine  de la Malavieille.  A general favourable impression but by this time my notes are getting a little illegible There is an intriguing white wine,  a Vin de France, a blend of Chenin blanc and Petit Manseng,that is more commonly found in Jurancon, which had some dry honey with balancing acidity.  9.80.

Cuvée Louise is a Carignan blanc, with a touch of honey and firm acidity, with an élevage in concrete  eggs.   The rosé, a blend of seven different varieties Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre and Portan (a cross of Grenache Noir and Blauer Portugieser)  is rounded with some ripe strawberry fruit.

Le 5 is  a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre with some rounded fruit and a firm, but harmonious streak of tannin.   A nice Montpeyroux. 



And we briefly dived into Sylvain Fadat's cellar where he was offering older vintages  By this time, we were beginning to suffer from palate fatigue, but nonetheless we still managed to appreciate  2006 Cocalières blanc which was herbal with resinous notes and very intriguing.  2004 Montpeyroux was  firm and leathery  and 2003 l'Authentique a blend of Mourvèdre and Carignan was firm and intense, with the weight of that warm vintage.



There were other estates that I did taste that were not showing so well on the day.  Domaine de Grécaux was not very expressive.   Ive liked Ivo Ferreiras wines from Domaine lEscarpolette on previous occasions, but on Easter Sunday they just didnt sing.  Domaine de Clementine, I didnt know and dont feel inclined to know better.  And I expected better from Christopher Johnson Gilberts Domaine Cinq Vents.  His first vintage of red, 2010 was very oaky for my taste, and the 2012 rosé was a bit stalky.
 


And then it was time for some restorative barbecued saucisse with aligot.  We sat in the market square, trying to keep dry, and warm.  A bare chested man was bravely be sporting himself as Bacchus and there were other musical antics for our entertainment.  And then it was time to go home, and warm up!