Richard Mark James' wine & travel blog
Buy my French wine e-magazine (click there - updated Sept 2016) on Amazon for £3.76/$4.99/€4.44/¥512/Ca$6.51/Au$6.62 (or £4 emailed as a PDF) including Languedoc, Cahors, Champagne, Chablis, Alsace. Other special supplements and guides: English wine guide £3.50, Cava guide £3, Slovenia & Croatia, Portugal, Argentina (follow links for more info and payment). Pay by card with PayPal: click here for more about card payments using PayPal, general 'terms & conditions', and your privacy.

27 September 2006

Rioja rocks

The Rioja wine people have been heartened by the findings of a recent survey conducted in three of its top export markets - the UK, Germany and USA - carried out by AC Nielsen. The study, which targeted 35 to 50 year old men and women, focused on "regular wine drinkers" in London, Manchester and Nottingham, i.e. those who consume at least one bottle of wine per week (average spend per bottle £5.27). In the UK, where shipments came to more than 2½ million cases last year, 'brand Rioja' has one of the highest recall rates amongst all wine producing regions, coming in 7th after Australia, California and Bordeaux. Among those questioned, 54% who “know Rioja” consume it, and of this group, 29% are regular drinkers. The reasons why included: they like the taste more than other options such as “full bodied, affordability and consistent quality.”
Hence the launch of their 'Rethink Rioja' campaign featuring lots of promotions and tastings. 'Dine with Rioja for £10' will run in The Daily Telegraph from 8th October into November; from 23 - 29 October independent wine shops will be participating in a Rioja week; tastings and daily seminars in the wine theatre from 22 – 26 November at the BBC Good Food Show, NEC Birmingham (www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com) stand number J51. And on 30th November, there's Decanter Magazine's Rioja tasting at Lloyd’s of London; tickets priced at £20, see their website: www.decanter.com. Rioja producers have also launched a 'lifestyle' website for UK: www.winesfromrioja.co.uk, which has full details of these events, where to buy Rioja and tips for travelling in the region. Further information from the Rioja Wine Information Centre, 58 Grosvenor Street, London WIK 3JB; tel 020 7409 0494 or rioja@spearcommunications.co.uk
Tasting report on some new Rioja releases and vintages coming soon... By the way,
the "exceptional" 2005 vintage has been awarded an “Excellent” rating by the Rioja Regulatory Council, the 13th vintage to be called this in the history of the region. Of course they're obviously totally unbiased! Posted 27/9/06.

21 September 2006

Languedoc: Domaine Lerys, Fitou

Domaine Lerys

A serene daytrip back in late September 2006, taking in 
the wine villages of western Fitou country, set the scene ruggedly for discovering three wineries, one big (Cave de Mont Tauch) and two (Bertrand-Bergé and this one, obviously) small... Maguy and Alain Izard farm 45 "low-yielding" hectares (110 acres) around the pretty lost village of Villeneuve; they also do chambres d'hôte with two rooms above their nice shop, one double and one family with a terrace.


2003 Fitou tradition (Carignan Grenache, 13.5%) - perfumed and pure, liquorice and pepper fruit with light rustic notes; firm tannins v ripeness, elegant bite and length. €6.20 87-89
2003 Fitou Prestige (Carignan Grenache Syrah) - more floral and herby followed by nice black fruit, firmer and more austere with lightly bitter bite; structured finish with coating of tannins. €7.30 88-90
2001 Fitou Fût de Chêne (Carignan Syrah) - coconut spice with nice fruit underneath, layered tannins with long bite; attractive but would be better with less oak. €7.70
Rivesaltes (
Grenache blanc & gris) - appealingly oxidised walnut and toffee notes, quite subtle freshness v sweetness. €6.20 87+



Latest HERE - 2012 Fitou report featuring their 2008 vintage.


11360 Villeneuve-les-Corbières

05 September 2006

Roussillon: Domaine Fontanel, Tautavel/Estagel

Laid-back Pierre and Marie-Claude Fontaneil (not a spelling mistake) have 25 ha (62 acres) around Tautavel, where their small yet soon-to-expand winery is found, and 10 ha (25 acres) in the village commune of Maury. I like those traditional village cellars found on a narrow residential street like any other, where you just walk in as if you were going into a large garage. The domaine was set up in 1989, before that the two families were cooperative growers. Their focus is red, mostly Roussillon AOC wines, producing around 10,000 cases in total per year, 80% of which is exported particularly to Asia and the Far East. In the UK, the wines are listed by Stone, Vine & Sun and Indigo Wine.

Tasted 5th Sept 2006:
2004 Côtes du Roussillon rouge (Grenache Syrah Carignan, 14%) - smoky black cherry with minty notes, elegant fruit despite fair concentration and weight, tight fresh finish v dry coating of tannins. 87
2003 Tradition Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Carignan, 13.5%) - firm and a bit closed up, subtle ripe fruit underneath; attractive tannin texture, needs 6-12 months to express itself as it's concentrated and structured. 89+
2004 Prieuré Côtes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel (Syrah Mourvèdre Grenache) - elegant perfumed nose and black cherry fruit, good grip and length. 89-91
1997 Rivesaltes Ambré (Grenache blanc & gris, 16.5%) - appealing mix of aged toffee notes and mature cheese complexity, finishing with fresh long bite. 88-90
2002 Maury (Grenache, 16%) - deliciously concentrated spicy blackberry and liquorice fruit, nice grip bite and power on the finish; not so sweet.
90-92


25 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 66720 Tautavel (cellar address, from April to October) or 37-39 Avenue du Docteur Torreilles, Estagel (shop open all year round 10am to 7pm). Tel: 04 68 29 04 71, 04 68 29 45 21; http://www.domainefontanel.com/.