WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

26 August 2010

Pink of the moment: M&S Cape rosé

2009 Cape rosé from Breedekloof region, South Africa, made by Nicolaas Rust (14%) - quite full-on style with rounded oily mouth-feel and underlying "sweet" red berry and cherry fruit; smooth and fairly easy (with food anyway, a bit punchy on its own perhaps) with attractive and off-dry finish. £4.29 Marks & Spencer.

20 August 2010

Beer of the moment: Fischer

The summer usually dictates less red and more white / rosé hues, round these parts anyway, and occasionally a smidgeon of refreshingly chilled beer. Many of my favourite French beers come from Alsace - and I don't mean that well-known monster brand I won't bother naming - and one in particular, Fischer, always hits the spot. Miles, or rather kilometres, better than most Brit-type "lager" or US-style "lite" stuff, perhaps not as characterful as certain Belgian beers or quite as incisively Pils-y in that German or Czech way; but consistently tasty and palate-cleansing while still quite "full-bodied" (6% alc. I think). About €1.50 for a big (66cl) bottle in most French supermarkets.

18 August 2010

Argentina: Malbec & Cabernet Sauvignon

Malbec and Cabernet at a glance: my notes and ratings, for your pure pleasure, of twenty diverse reds made from arguably Argentina's forte on the variety front - varietals or blends of the two (or sometimes with a third grape such as Merlot)... Highlights: 90-pointers from Septima, Piedras Pura Vid, Calle, Vistalba/Fabre. Tango tango! Picture from winesofargentina.org (a bit of a cliché, I know). Click here to find out more.

Fizz of the moment: Bach Cava

Bach Extrísimo Cava Brut Nature (varieties: Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada. 11.5% alc.) - not the greatest "Brut Natural" style Cava (very dry, no added dosage) but one of the most consistently brilliant value: I've tried it several times before and recently bought a bottle in Spain on offer for under €3! Attractive combo of floral bready and light oat-biscuit notes, with hints of honeyed almond flavours too; followed by refreshingly appley, crisp and dry finish. Good with light summer food or very easy quaffing as an "apero." Bach also makes a delicious dry still rosé ("rosat" or "rosado") and is part of codorniu.com. Lots more Cavas in my WineWriting.com Cava guide here. Photo from bach.es.

15 August 2010

eastern Slovenia: "taking on New Zealand..."

"Yet another catchy-titled tutored tasting... featuring wines from eastern Slovenia, which threw up several lively and/or unusual aromatic white wines... Slovenia has perhaps grabbed a bit of attention for certain intense styles of "macerated" and "natural" whites from the west... bordering northwest Italy and trendy regions such as Collio..." Expect Renski Riesling, Laški Rizling, Šipon, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurz... Favourite wineries include Protner, Valcl, Kupljen, Steyer and Simčič... Read this feature here on WineWriting.com.
Picture from vino-kupljen.com.
NB - new feature on Slovenia coming soon in 2014...

12 August 2010

Douro, Alentejo, Algarve and beyond...

New on WineWriting.com! Focus on Portugal with over 50 smouldering Atlantic wines reviewed including a "Douro masterclass" and eight featured producers from the Douro, Alentejo, Algarve and Vinho Verde... My best wines at a glance: Crasto, Favaios, Graham's, Duorum, Lagos, Outeiro Mouro, São Miguel, Quevedo, Dona Matilde. Also have a look at my "winery snapshots" page for more detailed Portuguese "profiles"... Photo = storks from herdadesaomiguel.com

04 August 2010

Red of the moment: "Cellar Reserve" Fitou


2008 Mont Tauch Fitou Vieilles Vignes "Terroir d'Altitude" (old-vine Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) - smoky and spicy with tobacco and leather edges; chunky palate with quite rich blue/black berry fruits, fair grip and bite vs lightly coconut texture, nice peppery finish too.
Available in the UK at Morrison’s for £7.99.
More Mont Tauch wines and profile via Languedoc 'winery A to Z' in the right-hand column, under 'M' (doh!).

Red of the moment: "Cellar Reserve" Fitou

2008 Mont Tauch Fitou Vieilles Vignes "Terroir d'Altitude" (old-vine Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) - smoky and spicy with tobacco and leather edges; chunky palate with quite rich blue/black berry fruits, fair grip and bite vs lightly coconut texture, nice peppery finish too.
Available in the UK at Morrison’s for £7.99.
More Mont Tauch wines and profile here:

03 August 2010

Roussillon/Languedoc: Domaine Jones, Maury / Fitou


As originally mentioned in my "Strange goings-on in Maury" article, Katie Jones is no stranger to the area, at least the Fitou highlands / southern Corbieres just to the north, as she used to be marketing and export director at the Cave de Mont Tauch co-op (see Languedoc A to Z). The lure of the land obviously proved too overwhelming for Katie, who's bought a few, more-or-less adjoining old parcels perched up behind Maury (overlooked by Chateau Quéribus, hence the arrow on the pic.) on pretty steep, very rocky soil (mostly pure grey/black schist on top), which are a challenge to access even for her old faithful 4x4 "love wagon" (it has a few pink hearts on it). As if that wasn't enough to take on, she's now also sought out a nice little plot closer to home, in the Fitou appellation, to add to her pocket-size vineyard patchwork. Hence why you'll see this blurb on Katie filed under Roussillon and Languedoc, as she's one of a handful who are difficult to pinpoint, for the purposes of my mini-profiles I mean rather than being a bureaucratic stickler, with vineyards and cellar in different "regions". The cellar's in Tuchan actually, not Paziols where her house is. "Confused, you will be..."
Anyway, what's new? For the reasons I just mentioned, Katie's opted to use the pristine "Vin de France" labelling moniker; as well as for pure simplicity in that "does was it says on the label" kinda way... enhanced by distinctive flowery leafy wallpaper design, of course! I've now tasted the 2009 wines, her first vintage, three of them bottled and two from cask made with a little help from south of France resident Australian winemaker David Morrison. She's also launched a fun new website (with a few tasty Med recipes too), where you can order the wines for delivery in the UK if that rings your bell (see below: no, I'm not a shareholder by the way). Future plans include making a red Fitou from 2011 to supplement the Jones range, as she didn't really get hold of this handsome little parcel in time this year to work the grapes as she'd like to (see link to update below). Sampled in July & August 2010:

2009 Jones Blanc (Grenache gris + splash of Muscat, half barrel-fermented in new and three year-old casks, 13% alc.) - aromatic floral nose with light coconut/cedar and toasted honey tones; exotic peachy touches on the palate vs "chalky" texture, nice balance of fruit vs lees/toast vs steelier side; quite elegant actually and drinking well already, finishing with light bitter twist vs grainy/creamy mouth-feel vs fresh bite. £15/€12 87
2009 Jones Rouge (20 to 70 year-old Grenache, 14.5%) - a tad closed up and unrevealing (just bottled when I first tried it) but a bit of air brings out enticing sweet cherry, liquorice and herbal berry fruit; nice dry vs smooth mouth-feel with peppery and punchy finish, its "sweet/savoury" profile develops in the mouth then it tightens up; again has an appealing "mineral" side vs powerful and peppery, in the end it's quite elegant in an attractively "earthy" Grenache-y way. £15/€12 87-89
2009 Jones Muscat (70 g/l residual sugar, 13%) - voluptuous honeyed grapey nose with a touch of citrus marmalade; rich vs refreshing palate actually showing lovely cut and balance, lush and honeyed vs mineral and quite fine. £10 50cl 87-89
2009 Carignan (from barrique) - delicious already showing fair depth and purity with ripe blue fruits; has a certain lushness vs a tad of spicy coconut texture/aroma/flavour, nice weight and "drinkability" vs firm and tight finish still, attractively full-bodied vs underlying fresh side. 89+
2009 Grenache (one barrel held back as an experiment) - different profile and texture, rounder and less fruity and at the moment with chunky finish vs underlining "sweetness." On verra as they say...



UPDATED December 2011: click here to view a note and some info on Katie's new release red Fitou.

14 Rue de l'Eglise, 11350 Paziols. 06 86 67 94 68,
www.domainejones.com.