Tag Archives: southern french

Not an orange wine

It’s not often you can identify the actual bottle, when tasting blind. But I managed it with this one (L’Orangeraie 2016), firstly because I knew Geoff had ordered some from TWS and secondly because the smell and taste of Cabernet Franc was unmistakable. The wine has attracted some comment – mostly favourable – on TWS Community Forums but I wasn’t much of a fan. Quite a simple, rather short wine which prompted the reflection that grapes grown outside of their traditional area often make disappointing wines.

[Geoff: I sense we’re returning to our old topic of the over-hyping wines that are perfectly okay but not greatly interesting. There is nothing wrong with this uncomplicated, really bright purple little number but it did not have the subtleties of a Loire CF and certainly not the depth. A ‘Bistro Wine’ for serving with a light lunch. Enough said.]

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Abbotts et Delaunay

Despite a liking for wines from Southern France, and spending many holidays there, I’d never previously been aware of this company, formed by a French/Australian merger. Quite a polished website – they have a philosophy – which tells us they buy in grapes, rather than own vineyards, and they make a lot of different single variety wine.

100% mourvèdre wines are not common, (although we have blogged a few) so I didn’t know what to expect from this – it was not tasted blind. In fact – pretty good. Light and bright cherry colours, cherry nose, lots of red fruit, medium length, pure and balanced. Very easy to drink and a bargain at £8, so much so that we are back to MWW wine for some more.

[Geoff: A pleasant surprise and good value. Most books – as well as the website – describe this grape’s flavours as black fruit and herby. We got none of that. To us, red fruits dominated; Richard noted cranberries, I thought ripe red cherries. One book does mention red plums which I could agree with. Whatever the flavour profile this was a fruity red of some style. AKA Mataro and Monastrell, the European grapes are grown never more than 50 miles from the Med. and are particularly difficult to get right.]

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Hegarty Chamans ‘Les Nonnes’ 2013

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I can’t remember having ever tried a white Minervois before last Sunday. That’s not surprising because only 3% of the production is white (85% is red, before you ask). The Hegarty Chamans vineyard is in the north-west of the Languedoc, high in the foothills of the Montagne Noire. Generally speaking, the higher the vineyard the better quality the wine; the lower, flatter Minervois vineyards produce that lower shelf, flatter red wine that can be found in French supermarkets. This generality was certainly proven with this 14% beauty from Vin Cognito (15.95).

Grenache Blanc, Rousanne and Clairette (40/40/20%) is the blend, the colour beings solely yellow rather than green-tinged, possibly indicating a hot climate and lack of acidity. This was followed through on the complicated nose which told of stone fruits particularly apricot, burnt honey and some honeysuckle. Gradual exposure produced more aromas – fascinating. The palate was big mouthful of flavour, dry, long and rich rescued by some acidity. Again, there was a slight caramel note which Richard picked up.

I’ve tried whites with these same full-on characteristics, notably Costers de Segre from Spain; they are wonderful kaleidoscopes of flavours with some power behind them. Great.

[Richard: a classy wine, well worth the asking price, which went well with some prosciutto wrapped haddock and romesco sauce. Lots going on, in a harmonious way. A pleasure to drink.]

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A pleasant surprise

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This month’s Decanter magazine features an article headed “The Rise of Carignan” and labels the grape as “A once scorned Mediterranean grape”, claiming it is “being reborn as a fine wine” from France and Spain. Well, Richard and I are, as usual, ahead of the curve. We tasted Vin Cognito’s Le Maudit 2012 from Dmne Treloar (£25) on Friday. It is very much a niche production (1,200 botts p.a.) from the Cote de Roussillon.

We did wade through the dissertation by Vin Cognito – it’s always a pleasure to see English used so creatively — but that did not detract from what was a surprisingly good wine. It made up for the Pol Roger 2000 tasted just before (see previous blog).

The expected purple and intense colouring was in evidence but the nose was quite delightfully dominated by red fruits, raspberry and red-currants, with an intriguing delicacy that was very attractive. The palate was stylish, quite belying its 14% ABV, repeating the red fruits theme but adding some structured tannins. The delicacy was still present in addition to its dryness and a medium length.

Most of the wines featured in the Decanter article have dark cherry as the dominant fruit experience (we think its more refined than that) but many mention the acidity and delicacy that we experienced. It’s reassuring to think there’s some agreement in our experiences.

[Richard: a very interesting and drinkable wine I much enjoyed and would buy again].

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A bully of a wine

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I think it must be a function of my ‘advancing’ years that my liking for big red wines has waned. However, this is not happening to my fellow sipper who just happens to be more ‘advanced’ than me. Richard has stash of these wines and he’d decanted this 14.5%er for Sunday’s tasting 24 hours beforehand. Domaine Lafarge’s Bastide Miraflores 2015 is hewn in Roussillon (it has a Cotes Catalans AC) from Syrah (70%) and Grenache (30%). The flores part of the name seems a misnomer as there are no floral notes to this chunky brute.

The expected intense ruby colour with distinct viscosity was to be expected as was the ripe black fruit aromas with deeper notes of chocolate, suggesting some early maturing elements. What was surprising was picked up by Richard; a slight underripe, green, sappy quality which was its saving grace for me. The palate had weight and obvious alcohol as well as the expected tannins and some spices. There was also a tarry quality to the long dry finish – no hint of sweetness, thankfully.

Without a doubt this wines needs food and big flavoured food too – cassoulet would be perfect. It was a well made wine and, although not something this wimp of a wine drinker would pick, I appreciated its quality.

[Not so much of a bully for me – that would be any Chateauneuf-de-Pape – more a rather assertive, sure-of-themselves individual. I liked the purity of the plummy fruit and the complex nose, not so keen on the alcoholic strength. From Vin Cognito (£15) who sent out a ‘must buy’ email, now sold out.]

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“…seldom anything of interest…”

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These were the words of Tom Stevenson in The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopaedia when describing the white wines of the Cote de Ventoux. Fortunately, he used the word ‘seldom’ because Richard had brought back from holiday this wonderful Chateau Pesquie 2010 which he had opened (30 minutes earlier) on Sunday. I tasted it blind and it was certainly impressive.

Made from the fussy Rousanne grape (80%) and Clairette, with a little Viognier, the wine showed a intense deep yellow colour, beautifully clear and bright, with only medium alcohol showing (it was 12.5% ABV). The nose was  particularly memorable – ripe melon fruit with apricots – as it suggested a lusciousness which was certainly noticeable in the heavy mouthfeel on the palate. It was both rich and balanced with acidity with floral honeysuckle flavours – possibly from the Viognier – and, again, apricots. The flavours were complex and very long.

There are lots of wonderful words about Rousanne, especially as to how the grape was revived from a decline and how it is favoured by the Perrins of Beaucastel fame and Jaboulet. This grape (not its more vigorous partner, Marsanne) is allowed in the white southern Rhone blends which, in the past, I have found a bit hollow. That was certainly not the case with this wine. It would make a wonderful accompaniment to stronger flavoured fish, white eat and cheese dishes.

[Richard: our second wine from this classy chateau, to the east of Carpentras. The cave had more red wine than anything else and most of the white was of recent vintage. However I spotted a few bottles of the above and wish I’d bought more, especially as the lady on the till said it was ‘the best’. I think it was around €18. A really delicious, complex, fully mature taste and, yes, the best white wine I’ve tasted in ages.]

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More reds

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We tasted, on Sunday that rare thing, for us, at least – a low priced red wine. This is Chateau Capitoul 2012, bought by Geoff from The Co-op in Lichfield. Not a place where I’ve previously found much of interest.

The wine is from La Clape in Languedoc, usually in my experience, a source of well made and interesting wines. This didn’t disappoint despite being opened since Friday, under vacuum. Clear, bright, some grenache strawberry flavour, lean, dry but well balanced and complex. The back label claimed ‘torrefaction’, a word I’ve previously only seen associated with coffee – but there was a slight roasted aroma on the nose. Excellent value at £6.49.

[Geoff This wine is remarkable value; fresh and full of herbal flavours when it was opened on Friday night.

I think I’ve said this before but the Co-op’s larger stores have an eclectic wine selection, as if a keen and knowledgeable amateur has made the selections. There is another 15% discount if you buy 4 botts – it really is worth seeking out and the shelves are not packed with the usual branded labels and thousands of varieties of Prosecco. Quite refreshing]

 

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Also tasted was La Volte 2014 (MWW £18). This is a Merlot, CS, Sangiovese blend, 70/15/15. I didn’t spot the merlot. A very easy to drink, savoury, full bodied wine which I’ve always liked.

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