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30 October 2008

Languedoc: Domaine de la Combe Blanche, Minervois-La Livinière

Domaine de la Combe BlancheGuy Vanlancker has slightly more eclectic plantings than most in the area - including some Tempranillo and Pinot Noir too! - which are the base (the non-eclectic varieties that this) for two pretty representative blends, both appellation Minervois-La Livinière: La Chandelière (mostly Syrah + Grenache) and La Galine (Syrah Grenache Carignan Cinsault), among others. These wines seem to stand the test of time well, especially La Chandelière: I remember once trying a rather good 1990 or 91 with about ten years on the clock, which I'd given to my uncle & aunt a few years beforehand and who'd had the sense to keep it. Anyway, Belgian Guy first moved here in 1981 and bought a few vineyard parcels around La Livinière, which is a cute wee village; so it’s easy to visit a few other producers on foot, especially since there are plenty of suitably pointy signposts. I bumped into Guy at the end of October 2008, during Les Grands Chemins "Rencontres en Minervois" festival, and tasted the following:
2003 La Galine (14.5%) - warming and spicy, quite soft yet punchy mouth-feel; turning savoury, mature and tasty on the finish. 87+
2004 La Chandelière (60% Syrah) - quite tight and firm with chocolate oak texture; concentrated and lightly perfumed, pepper and liquorice with attractive dry tannins on the finish.89-91

And these at Vinisud in Montpellier back in Feb 2004:
2001 La Chandelière - Leathery touches to the tightly structured and spicy fruit, finishes with long bite of tannins and alcohol. Needs time to come together. 92
2002 La Galine - Rich chocolate and plum fruit, very concentrated and tight, grippy but quite fine and fresh too. 90
2000 La Galine - Aromatic, spicy pepper and blackberry; has nice texture and grip with lengthy mineral finish. 89
2000 Vin de Pays blanc (Roussanne Viognier Chardy) - Developing vegetal and complex minty notes, light toffee characters lend a rounded 'sweetness', finishing with a blast of alcohol. 87
2002 Vin de Pays blanc - Bit of toasty oak combines with creamy and yeast-lees characters; rounded and quite rich, dry and full finish. 87
2001 Vin de Pays Tempranillo - Lots of new oak and very grippy texture; we'll see if it opens out nicely as it's too oaky at the moment, although there could be something there... 80-84
Didn't like his 2001 Pinot at the time, I'm afraid!

3 Ancien Chemin du Moulin Rigaud, 34210 La Livinière. Tel: 04 68 91 44 82 or 06 80 43 40 61 (mobile), lacombeblanche.comcontact@lacombeblanche.com.

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