The Big South

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La Maison Jaune Faugeres 2007 from Alquier is no shrinking violet. At 14.5% there is plenty of retained power and tannins which will delay its dotage for many years yet. Richard, evidently, has a few of these type of wines – he can confirm what and how many.

A bright red rim and core of deep colour with plenty viscosity heralded its style. The tart cherry nose was obvious as was its firm tannin. Unfortunately for me, it seemed lacking in polish at then end – ‘a bit raw’ (my notes) – but this was a wine that needed some charred meat. It was a barbecue accompanier, if ever there was one.

It is a blend, as I predicted, but I could trace no Syrah on the nose or palate. Yet, in fact, 20% of it was from that grape, the other parts were 70% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre. Whilst not a wine I would gravitate towards, I appreciate its style and character.

[Richard: many years ago (early eighties) the en primeur method of selling started in Bordeaux and I bought many cases, clubbing together with friends. Some were ludicrously cheap (like £1 a bottle, pre-duty and VAT). Mostly they were enjoyable, especially if given enough time, and some were fabulous, like an ’81 Langoa Barton. All long gone but en primeur has remained and is now offered by several other regions, including Languedoc, where this wine came from. Ordered from the WS in early 2009 at £65 per six, in bond price. Shipped and delivered a year later after another £3.80 duty and VAT paid, per bottle. So about £14 in all. 2007 was heralded as the best for nearly thirty years so Dave and I thought we ought to get a few and we ended up buying 5 different wines in half cases of 6. Probably good that we did because the wines don’t feature on the WS list, something I’ve always found puzzling. Why not buy for stock as well as acting as a middleman?

From the WS initial offer document ‘…this is a delicious blend of 70% grenache and 30% syrah, raised in mature wood for about a year. The 2007 is full, sweetly flavoured and will go quite silky with age. 2011–2019.’ This is pretty accurate though I don’t think we’ll see much improvement in the next 5 years, although it will soften. Good wine, but as Geoff indicates, perhaps lacking in finesse.

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On Sunday I opened another D’Alquier – Les Bastides, also bought en primeur. Quite why we picked two from the same maker is beyond me. This is the upmarket version. £85 per six in bond, so nearer £20 a bottle delivered. The WS view: ‘…made from 60% syrah and 40% grenache and raised for 18 months in barrels of new oak, this is one of the flagship wines of the Languedoc. The 2007, very ripe, black and sinewy, is an absolute classic…’, so perhaps that is why. However I think the comments are, in retrospect, overly generous. Very drinkable, not much syrah typicity but the rawness found in La Maison Jaune is not present. I’ll probably keep the last two bottles for a while.

Edit: just realised we have previously tasted the 2004 LMJ here and here.]

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