"Buy my book about the Roussillon wine region on Amazon UK in colour paperback and eBook or black & white version, and Amazon US: colour paperback and eBook or black & white. Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover or eBook. For other countries, tap on the link below above the cover image." Richard Mark James

30 July 2015

Languedoc: more photos

Marc Coulet pours Mas Brunet red al fresco.

The gang modelling more of those Terrasses du Larzac hats
Off the beaten track leading from Le Pont de Diable just outside Saint-Jean-de-Fos (between Aniane and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert).
Tarbouriech oyster farm near Marseillan, Etang de Thau.

28 July 2015


Prime real estate, pretty middle of nowhere 
somewhere near Aniane, Languedoc.
My 2015 Languedoc special report is now available as part of a massive French wine e-magazine HERE.

Here are the highlights then of what's grabbed my attention, for better or worse, in this year's Languedoc special report:
Four-page feature on Limoux sparkling wines (Blanquette and Crémant: "Always one of my favourite 'activities' in any Languedoc tasting or trip..."), whites and reds including profiles and notes on: Paul Mas, Martinolles, Taudou, Antech, Guinot, Sieur d'Arques and Rives-Blanques among others.
Thoughts on (and critique of) Languedoc AOP reds and whites with dozens of recommended wines, and a Rosé round up with RMJ's pick of 2014 vintage Languedoc pinks from across the entire region (over 30 very nice rosés).
Minervois La Livinière: "What's the story then in Minervois' darling little sub-appellation?" (sensitive producers hold on to your hats...) plus my pick of Minervois whites mostly the very good 2014 vintage: "There's as much, if not more fun to be had trying the surprising white wines from this red-dominant region..."
Cabardès: "I can't say I've ever got too excited about the reds from this lesser-known region lying to the north of Carcassonne, except for the same three or four very reliable estates. But this year... something's happened." A dozen hot red and rosé tips for something different...
A dozen Fitou reds 2011 to 2014 vintages, and a profile on Domaine Grand Guilhem.
Corbières profile: Domaine du Grand Crès plus other "premium" Corbières red and rosé tips.
Clairette de Languedoc: "One of those quirky 'why-not' sub-appellations built on the probably deserves-more-attention Clairette white variety..."
Ten 2014 vintage Picpoul de Pinet "worth a go priced between €5 to €8..." and ideas for "visiting one of the oyster farms cluttering up the Thau lagoon..."
Half-a-dozen Terrasses du Larzac reds sampled al fresco including two favourites Mas Brunet and La Réserve d'O, as well as an overview and comments on this 'cru' sub-appellation and profiles on Château des Crès Ricards and Clos du Prieur.
Pic Saint Loup: a handful of tasty 2013 reds and 2014 rosés with their "trendy prices"...
Faugères: two-page feature on this exciting region including words and reviews on Domaines Prés Lasses, des Trinités, du Causse Noir, du Météore, l'Arbussele and du Fenouillet.
Saint-Chinian: some delicious reds from Château du Prieuré des Mourgues, Château La Dournie and Hecht & Bannier, plus several great rosés recommended.
Languedoc & Roussillon négociant profile: Calmel & Joseph from Languedoc white to Vieux Carignan and a couple of Roussillon reds...


20 July 2015

Douro Valley: Quinta de la Rosa, Pinhão

Quinta de la Rosa (above) is well-known for its Vintage Ports - I bought a half-bottle of their 2009 for €15 when I went there at the end of June by the way (update: click here to see my review of this delicious fortified red) - and sublime old Tawnies. They also make red, white and rosé Douro wines, like everybody else in this region nowadays; and I was quite impressed by this tasty dry white quaffed that evening, nicely chilled of course:
2014 Dourosa white - (Codega 50%, Rabigato 20% and other white 'Port' varieties sourced from "nearby vineyards with a higher altitude." 13.3% abv) Aromatic and quite intense, zesty yeast lees and floral aniseed notes, crisp dry and tangy finish. €6
Quinta de la Rosa is a pleasant walk over the river and up the hill from the town of Pinhão (well signposted), like several other 'famous names' based in this area, offering beautiful views across the Douro and up and down the vineyard-lined valley. You can stay there too - more info @ quintadelarosa.com.

Some other "famous name" photos just for the fun of it:

Port: Pinhão, Douro Valley

Vineyards around Pinhão on a 'steep' theme... Photos by RMJ.

19 July 2015

Port & Douro Valley: Quevedo

I talked to smiley Oscar Quevedo (right) and tasted some of the Quevedo family's Ports in their wine tasting cellar cum shop in Vila Nova de Gaia in late June, which is quietly tucked away behind Ramos Pinto and the other side of the pretty Santa Marinha church from Sandeman's. They have six vineyards totalling about 100 hectares: “Some of them have been in the family for four generations, and some of them were planted by my parents and grandparents," Oscar told me. But Quevedo the company, as it is now, and Port brand don't date back so far as Oscar explained: "Before they changed the law in 1986 – before that you had to have a cellar in Vila Nova de Gaia to be able to export - we made and sold Port to merchants.” So the contemporary Quevedo estate was created after that date with a new winery completed in the Douro Valley in 1991. His sister Claudia is the winemaker there and their father still looks after the vineyards, which are planted with Touriga Franca, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cao, Touriga Nacional and certain white varieties. They also make Douro red and white wines, which I didn't taste this time, and have 25 hectares of olive groves.
Available in the UK from Naked Wines, Borough Wines and Wine Fantastic / Wine Boutique. USA: Flickinger Wines.

Rosé Port (19.5% abv, 83 grams/litre residual sugar) - contains "a fair bit of (the) Sousão (variety) which has very good acidity." Short maceration on skins and fermentation then fortified. Fruity 'winey' nose and palate, not too punchy or sweet with a hint of freshness too. “Sales of this style have really taken off in Germany and Holland," Oscar said. £13.50
2010 Late Bottled Vintage – lovely rich dark fruit vs peppery and punchy, plum and blackberry vs black olive flavours on a firm vs lush backdrop. Very attractive more towards-vintage style. £13.49-£18.99 or £10 half-bottle, US $20.
From vineyards in the Upper Douro "where it's drier giving more concentrated wines," he added. 2010 was a good vintage that some houses 'declared' as a vintage year, although "everybody declared 2011." Unfortunately their excitement is reflected in the prices!
2008 Vintage Quinta Vale d'Agodinho – from their main vineyard near Ferradosa, about 25 ha, located a couple of km from Quinta da Vargellas.
Dense and fruity still with marzipan and plum jam notes, concentrated and lush with sweet vs savoury finish, well balanced. Stylish, very good: still tasting quite young. About £40 or $50.
20 Year Old Tawny – dark mahogany colour, lovely toasted walnut and complex oxidised nutty tones, tangy vs sweet, quite mellow and mature vs long and still alive.
1996 Colheita – these vintage Tawny styles have “really taken off in Denmark and the US,” where it costs about $34 a bottle.
Tastes younger and fruitier than above vs savoury maturing notes, reminds me of old Banyuls, again quite smooth vs still lively, delicate complex finish. £27
40 Year Old Tawny – nuttier pecan nut nose with mature Gruyere type aromas, very intense and concentrated with tangy texture and delicious rich dark vs nutty oxidised flavours on its long finish. Yum.

Wine tasting and sales in Vila Nova de Gaia: 77 Rua de Santa Marinha.
To visit the winery and one of their vineyards in the Douro: Quinta Sra. Rosario in S. João da Pesqueira - more info @ quevedoportwine.com.

Portugal: Port and railway theme

Top: railway bridge in Pinhão, Douro Valley. One down: barrels in Pinhão station for when the loo's closed. Next down: the station as photo'ed by everybody ever. Bottom: Porto São Bento station.

Photos by Richard Mark James.

Profile and notes on Porto Quevedo above this post...