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Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

14 March 2005

Faugères Saint-Chinian Coteaux du Languedoc tasting

Notes and ratings on 35 wines selected from the "Meet the winegrowers" tasting held at Mas de Saporta in Montpellier, 14th March 2005. More info on these regions and producers in reports written for UK trade paper Off Licence News (scroll down), including the latest developments in the Languedoc and Roussillon.

Faugères

2003 La Closeraie, Abbaye Sylva Plana (Grenache Syrah Carignan) - Nice pure spicy Syrah fruit comes through on the nose, blackberry/currant; shows good bite v softness on the finish. 85-87
2003 La Longe de l'Abbé, Abbaye Sylva Plana - Has a tad more weight and extract than la Closeraie, plus a touch of wood adds texture; grip v black fruits, finishing a little bitter perhaps. 85-87
2003 Florentin Abbal, Domaine Valambelle (Syrah Cinsault Mourvèdre) - Floral spice on the nose, soft black fruits in the mouth set against firm grip and mineral bite, again shows elegance on the finish. 87-89
2003 L'Angolet, Domaine Valambelle (Syrah Carignan Mourvèdre) - More perfumed style with dominant Syrah spicy medicine notes, quite concentrated showing elegant grip v nice fruit. 85-87
2003 Les Petites Mains, Domaine de l'Ancienne Mercerie - Attractive 'sweet' herbal fruit, has soft mouthfeel yet firm tannins at the same time. 87-89

Saint-Chinian

2002 Clos de la Simonette, Mas Champart (70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Displays pretty good balance of firmness and forward fruit, tight elegant finish too. 87-89
2003 Clos de la Simonette, Mas Champart (vat sample, 70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Shows promising classic mix of firm yet rounded tannins and lovely ripe sweet fruit within a chunky framework. 89-91
2002 Causse de Bousquet, Mas Champart (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan) - Also shows some of the nice concentrated black fruits of the C d'A but this has firmer leaner structure. 85-87
2003 Côte d'Arbo, Mas Champart (Vat sample Syrah Grenache Carignan) - Offers youthful chunky black cherry fruit, not finished or together but shows promise.
2001 Gabrielle de Spinola, Château Coujan (45% Mourvèdre) - Attractive sweet fruit offering black cherry and liquorice, once again nicely textured dry v ripe tannins. 87
2001 Ile de Corail, Château Coujan (100% Mourvèdre) - Slightly baked/oxidised on the nose, rich and rustic tobacco style with meaty character, good concentration with firm yet ripe and round tannins. 89
2000 Grand Vin, Domaine de la Madura - Quite chunky, herbal and spicy with firm still closed palate; more extracted than their cuvée classique, but it works well here showing nice roundness too. 90
2001 Grand Vin, Domaine de la Madura - Chunky like the 2000, this vintage offers more black fruit coating coupled with solid tannins and depth of fruit; closes up on the finish showing promising future. 90-92
2002 Les Grés, Borie La Vitarele (Syrah Mourvèdre) - Thick liquorice fruit set against beefy tannins, needs a bit of time to develop but shows promise. 89
2003 Terres Blanches, Borie La Vitarele (Mostly Grenache) - Ripe plum and liquorice fruit, earthy warm style with a touch of finesse and bite on the finish. 89

Coteaux du Languedoc

Grés de Montpellier
2002 L'Ecrit Vin, Domaine Faurmarie (50% Mourvèdre + Syrah Grenache) - Spicy and grippy offering attractive fruit and firm structure with elegant long finish.89
2003 les Mathilles, Domaine Faurmarie - Nice pure spicy fruit with liquorice and blackberry tones, balanced palate showing softness and grip together. 87-89
2001 Cuvée l'Espérance, Mas Domergue - The nose is a bit 'reductive'/sulphide, but it has nice spicy ripe liquorice palate with good concentration and soft finish.87
2001 Grande Cuvée, Domaine Ellul-Ferrières (Grenache Mourvèdre 14.5%) - Also displays slight sulphide aromas (complexity?) and tangy blackcurrants but has richer blackberry fruit as well, thicker texture than the Romarins with more grip yet rounder palate thanks to hints of vanilla from the oak; the quite high alcohol is well integrated. 87-89
2001 Les Romarins, Domaine Ellul-Ferrières (14.5%) - Touches of maturing game, spice and liquorice alongside tart blackcurrant fruit; ripeness v tangy freshness on the palate, grip v liquorice and chocolate, austere bite too lending length. 87

Pic Saint-Loup
2002 Cuvée Sainte Agnès, Ermitage du Pic St-Loup (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - More concentrated and firm-structured than their regular red, this has nice ripe black cherry fruit and well balanced finish. 87
2003 RoséErmitage du Pic St-Loup (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - Quite rich and serious, a touch volatile and oxidised but it works with this food-friendly rosé. 85

St-Georges d'Orques
2001 La Tour et Carascaude, Château de Fourques (Grenache Syrah) - Herbal blackcurrant fruit also showing a 'sweeter' side, firm yet ripe palate, quite complex and long. 89

Montpeyroux
1999 Les Marnes Bleues, Domaine Saint Andrieu (70% Mourvèdre) - Meaty maturity set against very firm palate, but there's plenty of ripe fruit and power as well. 88-90
2001 La Séranne, Domaine Saint Andrieu (30-40% Mourvèdre and Carignan) - Quite rustic and soupy, ripe and rich with touches of spicy herbs set against black fruits and liquorice, nice grip to finish. 87-89
2000 L'yeuse noire, Domaine Saint Andrieu (50% Mourvèdre) - aged in barriques: reductive/sulphide complexity on the nose, again very rustic but also very ripe liquorice fruit, soft dry tannins and herby finish. 89

Latest Saint Andrieu here.

Picpoul de Pinet
2003 la Font du Loup, Mas Saint Antoine (Picpoul) - More intense than their 'basic' P de P (this is made from later picked grapes sourced from an older parcel), lovely balance of zingy mineral bite and ripe oily fruit. 90
2003 Château de Pinet - Broader and fatter than their Dom. Peyrolle Picpoul, this is quite rich and smoky in fact but still retaining that essential crisp mineral edge. 85-87
2004 Château de Pinet - Displays spicy celeriac notes, very concentrated fruit v yeast-lees intensity, tight steely finish. 90
2004 Domaine Félines Jourdan - Classic style showing zesty extract and mineral bite on its very dry finish. 87-89

La Clape
2003 Les Chailles, Mas du Soleilla (Grenache Syrah) - Unfortunate name for a wine region! Very ripe - perhaps a little too, to the detriment of some balancing grip - soft black fruits and liquorice, attractive now. 85+

Terres de Sommières
2001 Les Myrthes, Mas Mouriès - Shows quite a bit of coconut and spice oak but has good depth of fruit and texture underneath. 89+

2004 Vin de Pays d'Oc blanc, Mas Mouriès (Grenache Blanc Ugni Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, tank sample) - Nice zesty mineral edges, crisp v concentrated style. 85+
Latest Mouries: follow link in the winery A to Z, right.

2003 Coteaux du Languedoc blanc, Mas Saint Antoine (Grenache Blanc Roussanne) - Nice with salmon. Starts with mineral crispness turning to oily texture, good steely v ripe style. 85-87
2004 Lucian blanc, Vignerons de Saint-Saturnin (Grenache Blanc Bourboulenc Marsanne 13%) - Offers attractive ripe white peach and citrus fruit tempered by floral crisp mineral finish. 85-87

10 March 2005

Violent demonstrations in Montpellier

Violent demonstrations in Montpellier
"Protesters clashed violently with police in Montpellier as up to 8,000 wine growers demonstrated against the latest government measures..." Decanter.com news alert 10/3/2005: click on the title above to go to their webpage. Original tamer story by your faithful correspondent is copied below (well, I was there in the thick of it after all...)

A reported 4500 wine growers from the Languedoc-Roussillon and the southern Rhône turned out yesterday in Montpellier to protest against the latest government measures and show solidarity in the face of escalating economic hardship. The €70 million rescue plan tabled by the Minister of Agriculture Dominique Bussereau has been widely criticised for not going far enough to support struggling French vignerons. Philippe Vergnes, representing the event organisers and president of one of the growers unions in the Aude, called on the government to “pay up so we can get over the worst. This region has given a lot in the past, it’s time to give something back to small producers.” He added: “if we’re guilty of anything, then it’s because there are too many of us. If market forces are to take over, help those get out of the business, if they want to, and those who wish to stay, roll up their sleeves and get out of this mess.”
The supermarket chains were also slammed as “the biggest racket going,” along with the government’s anti-alcohol measures: “This attack on consumption has lead to the worst crisis in history.” Growers present were also demanding the right to publicise the positive aspects of moderate wine consumption. A delegation from the Languedoc-Roussillon is due to meet the Minister of Agriculture on 22nd March. The demonstration started peacefully in Place Peyrou by the Arc de Triomphe, where speeches were held before the march down the hill to the station and back up through La Comédie. However, by the time the throng reached the town hall armed with nothing more than placards (sporting slogans such as “Chirac what a let-down” and “Get to work Bussereau”), firecrackers and a petition, skirmishes broke out apparently provoked by the heavy-handed police presence attempting to disperse the crowd.

04 March 2005

Languedoc: Pic Saint-Loup daytrip

Pic Saint-Loup - March 2005


In further pursuit of Mourvèdre but not forgetting Grenache and Syrah of course... A few great wines discovered on a day trip to Château La Roque, Mas de Mortiès and Domaine de l’Hortus. All dotted here and there in the wild terrain north of Montpellier, watched over by the eponymous peak (650 metres high). Read this for more info and tasting notes: Vinisud 2004 - Pic Saint-Loup (post to follow...) or visit the PSL website.

Château La Roque
1998 Cuvée Mourvèdre (plus a splash of Grenache, all around 13%) - attractive complex mix of ripe sweet liquorice & berry fruit and maturing gamey savoury characters; again nice ripeness, softness and elegance on the finish set against a touch of grip, spice and bite. 92
2001 Cuvée Mourvèdre - chocolate and spice notes mix with complex rustic tones, ripe black fruits v firmer structure than the 02 or 03 (bordering on a touch bitter), long tight finish. Needs time. 90+
2002 Cuvée Mourvèdre - rainy vintage: maturing smoky aromas, shows good fruit ripeness and spicy notes, lighter and less concentrated than the 2003, drinking well now. 86
2003 Cuvée Mourvèdre - Very ripe, perfumed/floral liquorice and black cherry fruit with complex earthy notes; quite elegant and soft with subtle bite and length. 90+2003 Cuvée Clos des Bénédictins (Rolle Roussanne Marsanne barrique fermented) - Offers a touch more cream and weight than the 'tradition' white, yet has lovely citrus lift and aromatic length. 87
2003 Cuvée Tradition blanc (Grenache Blanc Rolle Marsanne Roussanne Viognier) - Attractive mix of aromatic and honeyed fruit, slightly exotic style leading to steelier mineral bite, nice zingy length. 87
2002 Cupa Numismae (61% Syrah 39% Mourvèdre) - Displaying quite a bit of coconut, spice and vanilla on the nose; firm framework v riper black fruits and more spice layered with oak, tight and quite long; perhaps too much wood. 85

Domaine de l’Hortus
2002 Grande Cuvée (55% Mourvèdre, 35% Syrah, 10% Grenache) - Quite light and forward (pretty typical for the wet 2002 vintage) yet shows reasonable fruit and ripeness v a firmer edge, attractive drinking now. 85
2003 Grande Cuvée
 (50% Mourvèdre, 40% Syrah, 10% Grenache tasted from barrique) - spicy and toasty at the moment (should be bottled soon) with textured tannins and tight finish; should be good. 87+

Mas de Mortiès
2001 Que Sera Sera (50-50 Mourvèdre Syrah) - Complex smoky ripe black cherry and olive, open and attractive nose; rich texture with leather and dried herbs, good depth of fruit v grip, powerful yet elegant too. 90