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30 June 2006

Signature Bio organic wine competition

Signature Bio organic wine competition June 2006

I was Judge Dredd at this organic wine competition held in rather-hot-June at the AIVBLR's HQ (Languedoc-Roussillon organic growers' association, with the very French 'interprofession' word in it), who also organise Millésime Bio trade show where the medal winners are officially honoured. Apart from my pick of the ones I tasted - blind of course, their identity was revealed afterwards - I've also included notes and scores for all the gold-decorated wines. The competition covers the whole of Mediterranean France, so organic growers from Provence and southern Rhône as well as Languedoc-Roussillon. Two things stand out in particular: many of them are under €10 and are vins de pays, which certain people strangely regard as inferior to appellation wines! As for the judging process and results, I think it's worth adding a few candid comments.

The wines were marked out of twenty - 12 to 13 for a Bronze medal (equivalent to 80-84 on the 100 point scale), 14 to 15 for Silver (85-89) and 16 to 20 for Gold (90-100). This seems a little generous to me, and why such a wide band for gold medal? Compare this to the International Wine Challenge, for example: Gold 95-100, Silver 90-94, Bronze 85-89 and Seal of Approval 80-84 (whatever that means). Each wine category was divided into tasting flights by style and vintage (certain judges weren't comfortable with this, as the appellation wines and vins de pays were mixed together; who cares, I say) with a 'possible number of medals' depending on how many wines in each flight, coming to max 29% of 197 samples in total. Is it a good idea to suggest up-front how many medals could/should be awarded? Surely best to let the juries decide which wines are worth what...

In the end, 23% of the wines were given medals including nearly 7% gold (11 plus 2 'highly rated') and more silvers than bronzes. The IWC "rewarded 64% of entries" including the more modest Seal of Approval but only 3% gold medals. I should also add I was frustrated by some of the judges' inability to spot faults. For example, I tasted the gold medal winning Marselan from Dom. de l'Attilon (see below) three times, blind and uncovered, and found excessive reductive/sulphide notes. Admittedly it was a youthful red perhaps only just bottled; this does happen and the off-smells can disappear, but the level here went beyond potential aromatic complexity! Anyway, enough of the maths and chemistry, let's move on to the wines. The panel I was on tasted Provence, southern Rhône and Côte d'Azur reds by the way.


Highly rated: 2001 Cuvée des Cadettes Château la Nerthe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape - ripe smoky and oaky on the nose, rich extracted and concentrated with nice dark fruit and rounded tannins; powerful finish but still too much vanilla oak, which by my reckoning leaves it just short of gold. By far the most expensive wine in the show at €56.50. 15 / 87-89
More La Nerthe here.

Highly rated: 2005 Le Sol Blanc Château Veredus, vin de pays (VDP) d'Oc - peachy fruit v good mineral intensity, crisp long finish. Very attractive but not really competition winning wine, although good value at €4. 14.5 / 87
2005 Cuvée Inès Château la Rèze, Minervois - lively citrus fruit edged with intricate yeast-lees notes, very light toast and fatness v crisp length. €6.80 15.5 / 88-90
2005 Cuvée Tradition rosé Domaine des Aspras, Côtes de Provence - classic delicate style, tight zesty and long. €6.50 15 / 87-89
2005 Merlot Domaine des Soulié, VDP des Monts de la Grage - cherry fruit aromas with meaty notes, a bit oxidised; spicy dark fruit palate, quite inky with menthol undertones. €5.50 14.5 / 87
2005 Côtes du Rhône Château les Quatre Filles - rustic spicy nose leads to tight cherry-fruited palate, firm tannins and good length. €5.20 15 / 87-89

2002 Prestige Château Bousquette, Saint Chinian - smoky black fruit notes edged with nice minty spicy chocolate, quite rich mouth-feel with tight firm finish. €8.95 16 / 89-91
2003 La Lignée Julien Mas de Janiny, Coteaux du Languedoc - leather and pepper tones set the scene for ripe liquorice fruit v solid tannins and impressive finish. €11.50 17 / 90-92
2004 Alix Château Pech-Latt, Corbières - the bottle I tasted was faulty, a bit oxidised and dusty? At
Millésime Bio back in January I said this about it: ripe and silky liquorice and herb flavours build to dry grip and elegant length. €18.30 16 / 89-91
2004 Grenache de l'Etoile Domaine de Clairac, VDP de l'Hérault - smoky toasty aromas with very intense cassis fruit, shows good length and balance. €8.50 16 / 89-91
2004 Pioch de l'Oule Domaine Costeplane, VDP d'Oc - quite jammy with oaky background, nice enough but fairly simple. €7.40 14 / 85-87
2005 Marselan Domaine de l'Attilon, VDP des Bouches du Rhône - 1. a bit reductive, spicy cherry fruit but rather over-extracted tannins. 2. similar nose and palate, the fruit's coming through better this time. 3. Sulphide notes still dominate, crisp cassis and cherry fruit, still rather firm yet elegant. €4 13 / 85
2004 Confidentiel Domaine Montirius, Gigondas - blackcurrant & blueberry fruit with savoury backdrop, tight firm palate but elegant too v power. €29 15 / 87-89


2004 VDP de Vaucluse Château la Canorgue - shades of meaty complexity, lovely peppery fruit on the palate supported by subtle oak, rich concentrated and powerful. €12 15-16 / 88-90
2003 La Chapelle de Romanin Château Romanin, les Baux-de-Provence - attractive rustic wild herb aromas layered with liquorice, good depth of fruit and balance, ripe v firm; stylish. €9.40 15-16 / 88-90
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Domaine des Beynes, VDP Bouches du Rhône - ripe and smoky with spicy savoury undertones, quite extracted rustic fruit and firm tannins with background oak, muscular finish. €4 13 / 85
2005 VDP Bouches du Rhône Mas du Petit Azégat - herbal slightly reduced yet interesting nose, spicy wild cassis fruit, elegant and unusual although lacks a bit of ripeness. Still, it only costs €2.50. 13.5 / 85

Other SILVER MEDALS I didn't taste:

Domaine du Jas d’Esclans Côtes de Provence Cru Classé Cuvée du Loup Rosé 2005
Château La Nerthe
Clos de Beauvenir 2003
VDP du Gard Domaine de Tavernel 2005
Domaine de Tavernel VDP du Gard 2005
Minervois Château La Rèze 2004
Clos de Barbéjo
VDP d'Oc
Elégance 2004
Château La Canorgue
VDP de Vaucluse
Viognier 2005
Peter Riegel
VDP du Gard
Le Corbeau Rosé 2005
Château Les Eydins
Côtes du Lubéron
Cuvée des Consuls 2004
Château Les Eydins
Côtes du Lubéron
Fontête 2004
Domaine Siméoni
VDP d'Oc Mourvèdre 2004 - at
Millésime Bio I said this about it: youthful black cherry fruit with earthy peppery notes, nice olive fruit and grip on the finish. 87
Château de Brau
Le Suc de Brau 2002
Château de Brau
VDP Cité de Carcassonne
Méditation Syrah 2004
Les Vignerons de Correns
Côtes de Provence
Croix de Basson Rosé 2005
Domaine Grand Corbière
VDP Sables du Golfe du Lion
Chardonnay 2005
Domaine Grand Corbière
VDP Sables du Golfe du Lion
Gris de Gris Rosé 2005
Château de l’Ou Côtes du Roussillon 2005


Château de Bastet Côtes du Rhône Les Acacias 2005
Domaine Bassac VDP Côtes de Thongue Syrah 2005
Château Sainte-Marguerite Côtes de Provence Grande Réserve Rosé 2005
Domaine de la Grande Pallière Côtes de Provence 2005
Domaine de Clairac VDP d'Oc Réserve de Chasse 2004
Domaine Pastouret Costières de Nîmes 2005
Latest wines and profile on Pastouret: go to Languedoc winery A to Z, right hand column.
Château Bousquette St Chinian Cuvée Pruneyrac 2004
Peter Riegel VDP d'Oc Soliano Merlot 2005
Domaine de la Sauveuse Côtes de Provence Cuvée Philippine 2004
Domaine du Revaou Côtes de Provence 2004
Domaine du Revaou Côtes de Provence Rosé 2005
Les Vignerons de Tornac VDP des Cévennes Rosé 2005

For some reason our panel didn't put through any wines for Bronze, which were deemed to miss Silver medal. Anyway, I thought these deserved it:
2003 Mas de Gourgonnier Réserve du Mas, les Baux-de-Provence - complex earthy medicine notes, maturing spicy fruit turning savoury with balanced dry tannins. We tasted this one twice in fact, so what happened? €8.80 15 / 87-89
2005 Marselan Domaine des Beynes, VDP Bouches du Rhône - better than their Cabernet, in my humble opinion: closed nose, some pure blackcurrant fruit; firm and tight yet has reasonable concentration, more savoury finish. €4 14.5 / 85-87

Click here for a post on Signature Bio 2010.

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