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27 April 2011

Languedoc: Limoux

You've guessed it: yet more insane ramblings squeezed out of the “Languedoc Millésimes” mega tasting week (21-25 March 2011); this time, lavish Limoux whites and fizz sampled amid the appropriately historic(al) setting of Château de Pennautier (profile to follow) near Carcassonne. I’ve again used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 below. Euro prices are cellar door per bottle inc. taxes and were added after the event. There were mostly 2009 whites up for tasting, which generally are looking very good, along with the one 2010 lurking 'arrogantly' at the end of the table (see pic and note below!), and rather confirm that Limoux is possibly the most exciting place in the Languedoc for finding white wines with real depth of character and class. The single 2008 sample was in line with comments I made last year about this vintage being quite fine and more structured, even if a little less 'generous' than 07, 09 and probably 10.

As I also commented last year, not so sure about the reds; admittedly I only tried a couple (over-oaked/extracted) this time over dinner, but heard other tasters say the same thing earlier that day: disappointing, don't get it... Which leads me to reiterate what I've said before about the red Limoux appellation, based on Merlot, the two Cabs etc.: perhaps the future is Pinot Noir? There are already a few good ones made by some of the names you'll see below, e.g. Mouscaillo, L'Aigle, Mas that are classified as vin de pays, as PN isn't currently allowed in AOC wines. You could venture whether it matters a damn about 'classification' and the best wines will eventually take the limelight anyway, whatever it says on the label. One Limoux winemaker, who probably wouldn't want me to quote him so will remain anonymous, was talking about this on our table over dinner one evening and admitted that "we really screwed up there," and perhaps the 'rules' for the red Limoux AOC were a little premature, as, a few years down the line, it seems that Pinot could really be Limoux's star on the red front. That's not to say that all wines made from PN are good or all wines made from the existing red blends aren't. And Pinot has already found its place in some of the excellent Crémant de Limoux sparklers being made (see below below). "When all's said and done," I look forward to following developments on this front...

Château Arrogant Frog:
sense of humour but serious wine.

White Limoux (all 100% Chardonnay unless specified)
Domaine de Mouscaillo 2008 (98% Chardy, 1% each Mauzac & Chenin) – quite elegant with light toast and butter vs citrus fruit too, gets more exotic oily and nutty, subtle concentration and refreshing length vs weight too. 2 €15
Château Antugnac "Gravas" 2009 - toasty and buttery nose and palate, some exotic fruit too on a quite rich rounded palate, still quite toasty vs big vs touch of refreshing bite. 1-2 €15
Rives-Blanques "Odyssée" 2009 - aromatic ripe and zingy, subtle leesy toasty touches vs creamy vs crisp, more elegant than "impressive". 1-2 €10.85
Rives-Blanques "Dédicace" 2009 (100% Chenin blanc) - oilier with more melon then toasty tones, grainy texture and taste, quite tight and mineral too, closes up, less obvious at the moment. 1-2 €10.85
Rives-Blanques "La Trilogie" 2009 (50% Mauzac, 25 Chenin, 25 Chardy) - closed nose, grainy oak notes and tight palate, again not very revealing but it's concentrated and has nice crisp length. 2 €17.20
Domaine de Baron'Arques "Le Chardonnay" 2009 - full-on oak and cream, quite blowsy with rich buttery vs toasty finish vs punchy; is some freshness there but not enough. Impressive but perhaps trying too hard to be great Burgundy. 1+? Dear too at €30.
Domaine de Cassagnau "Les Sarments d'Hippocrate" 2009 - grainy nose, creamy vs greener edges, quite subtle with a bit more zest vs weight and milky side. 1-2
Domaines Paul Mas "DA" 2009 (Chardy + 5% Mauzac) - quite woody to start vs nice juicy and quite concentrated fruit, gets more buttery vs less toasty, bit of power on the finish vs crisper bite vs nice creamy side. 2 €8.50
Aimery Sieur d’Arques “Terroir Autan” 2009 – leesy and buttery, toasty nose and palate, nice balance of fat and quite crisp though, not too toasty on its nutty vs creamy vs mineral finish. 1-2 €11
Aimery Sieur d’Arques “Terroir Haute Vallée” 2009 – toasty but more citrus too, gets more buttery and rounded vs nice bite and bit of oomph on good length. More subtle though. 2 €11
Oustal Anne de Joyeuse “La Butiniere” 2009 – grainy cedary vs oily exotic and creamy, again more subtle and has quite tight and crisp bite, subtle length and tasty too. 1-2 €9.95
2007 “La Butiniere” - quite toasty but it's well done, oily and fairly fat too vs still crisp underneath vs buttery nutty development. 1-2
Alain Cavailles “Clocher Saint Julien” 2009 (50/50 Chardy/Chenin; converting to organic) – not much on the nose, bit sweet vs grainy, OK. €8
Gérard Bertrand L’Aigle Royal 2009 – toasty and creamy, nice hazelnutty buttery vs citrus, mix of fruit vs oak, bit of oomph and freshness too. 2
GB Domaine de l’Aigle 2009 – richer and more interesting although less up-front too, quite exotic fruit vs buttery and nutty, again fresher underbelly vs fat vs oomph. Classy. 2-3
Château Antugnac “Terres Amoureuses” 2009 – lovely oily buttery nose, grainy toasty notes vs rich vs nutty and crisp. Good stuff. 3
Château Arrogant Frog 2010 – aromatic pear and peach vs light toasty undercurrent, gets creamier and touch toastier but nice balance and style. 2

Crémant de Limoux (trad method sparkling: mostly Chardy and/or Pinot and/or Chenin)
Domaine J Laurens “Les Graimenous” 2009 – nice aromatic bready nose, lively vs toasty, good crisp bite and length vs yeasty vs oily. 1-2
Taudou Brut – not much nose, more honeyed vs yeasty palate, gets richer and breadier vs greener edge. 1
Antech “Grande Cuvée” Brut 2009 – elegant bready nose, richer more honeyed and tasty vs yeasty vs nice and crisp, softer too in the end. 1-2
Antech “Cuvée Eugenie Antech” Brut 2009 – finer vs toastier, quite intense vs oily and cakey, tight and fresh vs honeyed. 2
Antech “Cuvée Heritage” Brut 2009 – tight and steely almost vs toasty and tasty, showing less well but probably finer still, nice leesy intensity bite and bready coating. 2-3
Antech “Cuvée Emotion” rosé brut – subtle bready toasty with red fruits and roses, delicious cakey oaty fruit vs crisp and steely. Yum. 2-3
Antech Brut Nature – a bit lean and lacking excitement, I've had better BN Cava.
Taudou rosé – tastes a bit lean after the above but OK in style.

Click here for my Limoux report 2012.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.