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27 November 2013

Languedoc: Jean-Louis Denois, Roquetaillade

I posted comments and info back in April about Jean-Louis Denois' "no added sulphite" wines from his northern Roussillon vineyards HERE, including a little background on the man, how these wines came about and what attracted him to the St-Paul and Caudiès de Fenouillet area. I've since added a few new notes to that profile too on other wines sourced from these Agly valley plots, such as two vintages of his smart Saint Louis Syrah. This time, the spotlight focuses in on some of the sparkling, white and red wines that have helped build his south-of-France reputation, which come from his elevated 'Upper Aude valley' vineyards in the lost villages of Roquetaillade (called la Borde-Longue) and Magrie (la Métairie d’Alon) lying within the Limoux appellation (he doesn't label all of them as that though for various reasons). This is where Jean-Louis' Languedoc 'adventure' began, as the story goes...
Born into a long-established Champagne family, Jean Louis studied winemaking and business, then went to work for Boschendal in South Africa making 'Cap Classique' fizz. He also travelled around Australia, New Zealand and the US to take in what else was going on in the wider wine world. When he returned to France, he created a sparkling wine brand sourced from just outside the Champagne area that was big in the USA apparently. He bought his first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in Limoux country in the late 1980s, followed by planting Champagne clones of Pinot in the early 90s to make fine sparkling wines. This expanding estate was to become the now relatively famous Domaine de l'Aigle, which was sold to Antonin Rodet and now belongs to the Gérard Bertrand group. This cooler spot, with some vineyards lying at over 300 metres above sea level, was also considered a good place for making later ripening finer styles of Cabernet (both) and Merlot; and are part of a total of "57 parcels," as Jean Louis describes his patchwork estate, including the aforementioned Roussillon sites. More @ www.jldenois.com.

Domaine de la Borde-Longue (Roquetaillade) – 'Haute Vallée de l'Aude'
2011 La Bourdette Cabernet Franc (13.5%) - nice 'sweet/savoury' fruit, berries with 'soy sauce' tones; dry and firm vs rounded too with a touch more obvious oak than the Syrah say. 2nd day – that oak has blended into the wine better, ripe rounded texture vs structured and 'fresh' tannins, well balanced and quite elegant with a little weight and light coconut grain. Also needs a bit longer to open up.
2010 La Bourdette Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5%) - enticing dark cassis and cherry with earthy liquorice notes vs maturing savoury vs coco oak edges, lovely concentrated fruit with light coco vs dark choc texture, sweet vs savoury too with a fair kick and dry vs supple tannins. Long balanced and quite elegant / classy despite that alcohol, tightens up with a touch of freshness, light dry bite and lingering dark liquorice vs savoury fruit. Lovely wine, drinking well now although should improve a little more. €12
2008 Reserve Merlot - a bit oaky to start (surprising after 5 years) although has nice smooth tannins, quite rich plum and chocolate flavours, dry vs rounded profile; was even okay with a Chinese pork dish. Turns more savoury after being open, showing liquorice and a wilder earthy fruit side, nice tannin texture and depth of fruit vs chocolate oak edges; more 'volatile' and oxidised after two days open (not surprisingly).

2006 Pinot Noir brut Vin Mousseux de Qualité élaboré en Méthode Traditionnelle' (12%). Intricate toasted nut and Fino notes on the nose, baked oats straw and honey vs floral red fruity mix, chocolate and bread tones too; rich toasty nutty and yeasty flavours, concentrated with fine tight acid structure still, fresh and dry vs all those lingering complex aged flavours, delicious and classy. Maturing vs still young, will keep longer yet it's lovely now; tastes like Vintage Bolly.
JLD Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut (50-50, aged 2+ years on the lees, 'disgorged' Oct. 2012, 12.5% abv) - lovely elegant mousse and yeasty biscuit nose, rich vs elegant mouth-feel, tasty oat biscuit and toasty nutty flavours vs subtle crisp dry finish with mouthwatering bite. Yum, very elegant and drinkable. €11
Chardonnay Extra Brut - very fizzy, less toasty and dry maybe than the Pinot Chardy, fruitier and more honeyed with delicate biscuit honeysuckle and nutty tones; nice fruit with light yeast notes, quite crisp and delicate with a bit of roundness and 'sweet/savoury' oat flavours. €10

2009 Grande Cuvée Limoux rouge (65% Merlot + both Cabernets & Malbec, 14% abv) - chocolate and coconut tones vs maturing savoury fruit, prune liquorice and leather vs sweet berry and cassis. Quite lush with ripe dark fruit vs cedar notes, concentrated and powerful yet showing fairly fine balance, rounded chocolate texture vs dry bitter twist and a hint of freshness, ripe and maturing vs still lively and structured. Drinking well now - good with venison steak - but will keep too as it's quite big and firm still vs 'sweet' and rounded. 2nd day - a touch more rustic and savoury/meaty, oak is more integrated with nice ripe dark berry fruit, full-on yet rounded, good bite yet developing. €10
2010 Grande Cuvée Limoux blanc (Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, 12.8% abv) - quite oaky vs nice nutty and aniseed notes, rounded vs fresh with medium body, oily honeyed side vs crisper white peach and citrus vs nutty toasty oaty flavours. A few hours open: gets oilier and nuttier with appley crispness still vs ripe and rounded. €10
2010 Sainte Marie Limoux (single site Chardonnay, 400m altitude) - toastier and richer than the Grande Cuvée, coconut honey and oatmeal with light grainy texture vs nutty and rounded, quite concentrated with a little bite and exotic ripe fruit (pineapple, peach) vs dusty coconut oak and fairly big mouthful. Quite coconut oaky but has rich honeyed fruit and lees-y buttery depth with nutty development. €15

2012 Les Oliviers white Sud de France (blend of mostly Chardonnay plus a little Muscat from the Fenouillèdes and some Chenin from Roquetaillade; 11.8%, organic) - nice aromatic nose, floral and grapey vs peach and citrus, dry crisp and elegant palate with attractive simple tasty fruit and zesty 'chalky' finish. €7
More of his wines from the northern Roussillon HERE.

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