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Showing posts with label Boutenac. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boutenac. Show all posts

17 August 2012

Languedoc: Corbières - whites and Boutenac reds

I usually enjoy myself talking about one of my favourite and most well-travelled chunks of the Languedoc - that gigantic windswept and ruggedly picturesque corner stretching from the Corbières hills themselves north of the Roussillon up to Narbonne and almost across to the gates of Carcassonne to the west. Nowadays, this region is a good place to look for great-value easy going reds, whites and rosés; as well as some of the Languedoc's best estates and co-op wineries. Mind you, there's still quite a bit of dross lurking around too but much less than in the past I'd say. Red and rosé wines are based largely on Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre with some Lladoner pelut (the Roussillon/Catalan variety related or similar to Grenache) and the somewhat rarer Piquepoul noir or Terret noir even.

From 20decorbieres.com
I've gone on about Boutenac several times before (see links at the bottom and wineries there listed in the A to Z in the right-hand column), one of the new subzones centered on that eponymous blink-and-miss-it village, which is still finding its feet although already capable of nurturing a good handful of top red wines. At a mammoth tasting in the South a few months ago (the annual "Millésimes en Languedoc" gig), I focused my tasting buds on this area and have also picked a few tantalizing white Corbières wines. However, a number of the 2009 Boutenac reds had rather heavy drying tannins and/or too much oak, which seems to be increasingly obvious with many reds in general from this hot vintage. But the 2010s and 2011s on show appeared to offer greater promise. The whites are created from these varieties: Bourboulenc (confusingly known locally as Malvoisie), Grenache blanc, Maccabeu, Clairette, Muscat, Piquepoul, Terret blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Rolle (aka Vermentino). Further generic info @ 20decorbieres.comSo: 1, 2, 3, over to the tasting-note-tastic bit:

Boutenac all reds

2009 vintage

Château Ollieux Romanis Atal Sia - quirky 'cheesy' tones tinged with fragrant ripe blueberry, solid dry palate vs a touch of silkiness too, quite extracted but it works with that elusive aromatic fruit. Good to very good.
Gérard Bertrand La Forge - showing a fair bit of coconut oak still but layered with attractive 'sweet' aromatic fruit, grainy coco texture, tight and quite fine, those tannins do round out in the end. Good to very good.


Château de Caraguilhes Solus (mostly Mourvèdre/Syrah) - rich dark smoky nose, concentrated black cherry / olive, firm but well-textured tannins; bit of chocolate oak underpinned by lush dark fruit, punchy finish vs good substance. Very good towards fab.
Gérard Bertrand Domaine de Villemajou - perfumed floral berry and cherry notes, quite chunky and firm vs 'sweet' berry fruit, again powerful and tight vs nice vibrant fruit. Very good.
Gérard Bertrand Château Aigues Vives - similar but with (more) oak, adding grain and texture, has 'sweet' fruit underneath with tight grippy finish. Good.

2011 (mostly unfinished samples)

Gérard Bertrand Domaine de Villemajou - aromatic and rich, blueberry cassis and black cherry, chunky vs concentrated palate, lovely dark fruit and spice with firm yet rounded finish. Very promising.
Villemajou Grand Vin - touches of coconut oak, grippier yet more intense than above with underlying concentrated dark berry fruit, tight firm and punchy finish. Also promising.
Villemajou La Forge - closed nose, moving on to vibrant black fruity palate, peppery and powerful with solid structure, lush substance with lovely textured tannins, closes up again. Lovely wine, should really blossom.
Gérard Bertrand Château Aigues Vives - nice black cherry/berry fruit, fairly rich vs grippy mouth-feel, again those tannins are already quite rounded, has a touch of freshness about it too. Very good.
Celliers d'Orfée - aromatic floral wild herb and mint nose layered with blueberry and damson fruit, firm vs supple palate, shows nice balance and style. Very good.

White Corbières all 2011

Vignerons de Cascastel - juicy fruit with light oak vs honeyed roundness, nice enough wine.
Bonfils - quite full and honeyed vs crisp and mineral finish. Good.
Meunier Saint-Louis Prestige - attractive lightly honeyed and creamy side vs citrus and pear, juicy lees-y palate vs crisp and dry finish. Good stuff.
Etang tradition - crisp and steely, light yeast-lees tones with dry bite and tight finish. Good.
Prieuré Carminal - rounder and juicier wine, nice floral and honeyed character vs celery mineral bite, quite concentrated and tasty too. Good stuff.
Bastide tradition - enticing honeysuckle and more exotic fruit, oily vs crisp mouth-feel, shows fair depth and weight too with 'chalkier' finish. Very good.
Gérard Bertrand Villemajou - nice mix of creamy lees-y notes vs white peppery vs oily exotic fruit/texture, zingier pear too vs a touch of toasted oak and concentrated finish. Very good.

Some other recent stuff on Corbières:

15 May 2011

Languedoc: Corbières & Boutenac

Corbières-Boutenac is one of those new-fangled Languedoc "cru" subzones covering 10 villages (one of them is called Boutenac) and 22 producers in the northern Corbières, lying across a still fairly sizeable 1400+ hectares (3500 acres) of rolling, although hardly very hilly terrain. Apart from claiming to implement a stricter selection for wines destined to become Boutenac, what arguably makes these red wines more distinctive is their policy of not allowing too much Syrah in the blends while focusing on up to 50% Carignan (often from the oldest vines although not exclusively; old doesn't always mean good of course). I'm not saying Syrah is bad - far from it - but there doesn't seem a lot of point in launching a new wine area with wines that taste the same as anywhere else in the Languedoc. And, a few vintages down the line, quality is pretty evenly high. But, as I said in my report on previous editions of the "Languedoc Millésimes" tastings held in the region in March, these wines should be good as prices are already quite high for a new appellation with less than a five-year track record (although technically since 2005 as the rules were back-dated I believe).

Happy New Year from Ollieux Romanis!
from their facebook page.
The 2010s on the table were unfinished cask or tank samples but, on this showing, this vintage is looking a real star here. 2008 again threw up some inconsistency, although overall they were showing better than certain other appellations and definitely much better than red Corbières as a whole (see below below). And the few 2009s sampled here are all very promising too, even if more difficult to taste at the moment. Tastings took place at Château de Pennautier near Carcassonne or at the Trinque Fougasse wine bar in Montpellier. I’ve used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 here. Euro prices are cellar door per bottle inc. taxes and were added after the event.
Château Maylandie "Villa Ferrae" 2008 (40% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 30% Syrah) - vanilla cherry and cassis fruit, a bit light and oak heavy vs quite extracted/grippy tannins. €11
Château Maylandie "Villa Ferrae" 2010 - slightly leafy/herbal with aromatic cherry and “garrigue” notes, tight and tangy palate vs concentrated, structured and firm vs rich and lightly meaty fruit. Promising. 2
Château Maylandie "Carnache" 2008 (50/50 Carignan/Grenache) - richer nose with herbal/red pepper edges, pretty structured/extracted and certainly has freshness but tannins are a bit lean. 1 €13.80
Château Ollieux Romanis "Atal Sia" 2008 (50% old-vine Carignan, 23% old-vine Mourvèdre, 23% Grenache, 4% Syrah) - delicious maturing sweet cassis, blueberry and cherry nose, wild flowers and herbs too; concentrated vs fresh and tight, much nicer tannins, elegant long finish vs a bit of oomph. 2-3 €17
Château Ollieux Romanis "Atal Sia" 2010 – closed to start, perfumed blue fruits vs liquorice, more elegant and less grippy although lots of structure and dark ripe fruit vs nice perfumed characters. 2-3
Château Ollieux Romanis “Or” 2009 – the oak’s quite strong but again it has nice perfumed blueberry/cherry fruit and fresh vs firm finish. 2
Celliers d'Orfée "B de Boutenac" 2008 (50% Carignan, 40% Grenache, 10% Syrah) - enticing maturing ‘sweet & savoury’ nose, turning oily and sweet with subtle depth, dry tannins but not aggressive, again fresh bite and length too. 1-2 €13
Celliers d'Orfée "B de Boutenac" 2010 - oak dominating at the mo so it’s pretty charred/choco in tone, but again concentrated/extracted and impressive; hope it soaks up that oak. 1-2
Château Meunier St-Louis "Exégèse" 2008 (Syrah/Carignan/Grenache) - oaky start, is some nice blue fruit and liquorice underneath but a bit heavy on the vanilla at this stage; tannins are quite attractive and again has fresh and elegant length. Pity about that oak! 1 Dear at €32.
Château les Palais "Randolin" 2008 (50% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre) – a bit baked and fading, short. €12
Château les Palais "Randolin" 2010 - again a deliciously perfumed 2010 with blue and black fruits, wild flowers and mint; grippy and concentrated with lovely lush fruit underneath, tight structured powerful finish. 2-3
Château les Palais: trio of oldie vintages of their “Randolin” red tasted over dinner in the Hotel de la Cité’s restaurant in Carcassonne oldie town (how appropriate).
1998 – minty vs maturing/savoury, oxidising and meaty vs still a bit of firmness and fruit, looking pretty good still. 2+
1995 – much older, a tad dusty perhaps? Mint vs leather, tannins drying out a little vs alcohol holding it up. 1
1991 – very meaty/oxidised, quite dry firm and over the hill… Still, thanks for bringing them along all the same!
Gérard Bertrand "La Forge" 2009 - complex herbal vs liquorice and oak underneath, grainy texture vs nice concentration, pretty grippy yet rounded, oak still strong but good depth of sweet fruit and bite/oomph. 2-3
Gérard Bertrand Domaine de Villemajou 2009 - similar profile to above with a bit less oak and more perfumed fruit, nice grip vs depth, tannins a bit less fine but again it's got substance. 2
Domaine de Villemajou 2008 – subtle perfumed berry vs liquorice notes, firm texture vs elegant and refreshing finish. 1
Gérard Bertrand "La Forge" 2008 – complex herby berry nose, intense and rich vs subtle underlying oak vs lovely fruit, young and tight with fine length and well-balanced tannins/acidity. 2+
Domaine Sainte Lucie d'Aussou "Ladybird" 2009 or 2008? (discrepancy in the tasting booklet/tech sheet. 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah) - up-front and jammy with nice wild flower/herb undertones, grippy and powerful vs rounder sweeter side. 1-2 €14
Château Saint-Esteve "Ganymede" 2010 – a bit malo-lactic but shows rich tasty dark cherry/blueberry and liquorice with savoury edges, lovely concentration vs power, grip vs textured and intense finish. 2-3
Château La Voulte Gasparets 2010 - lovely perfumed blueberry and peppery pure damson, floral and fruity vs big tannins vs lush and dark mouth-feel, grippy and tight finish but v. promising. 2-3
Château de Caraguilles "Solus" 2010 - chunky and concentrated, dry vs grainy vs sweet choco tannins, power vs finesse, closes up but v. promising. 2-3
Ledogar 2010 – a bit awkward and firm; not sure, would like to try it again.


I sampled a lot of Corbières wines in all colours and ended up leaving out a lot too, especially from 2008 vintage which, frankly, proved quite hard work finding wines with any real charm. I wasn’t the only one who thought this; and, although better overall with more substance, there weren’t even that many seductive 2009s with too many wines showing clunky hard tannins. The tasting line-up was disappointing this year, as I’ve been known to have a bit of a soft spot for Corbières, for good reason; but where were the likes of Pech-Latt, Clos l’Anhel, Auzines, Caraguilhes, Lastours, Embres et Castelmaure, Grand Arc etc? Obviously you can’t have every wine on tasting from a vast region like the Corbières, but it makes sense to have some of the top producers out on the table (some of them were at least e.g. Sainte Croix).

Having rather stuck the boot in, there were a lot of wines priced at €5 to €8 here making Corbières much more affordable than certain other areas of the Languedoc (perhaps it’s the reverse “not very near Montpellier” factor?!). In addition, about a dozen 2010 red cask samples were up for trial, which all showed a pretty evenly high standard so that’s one to watch out for when ready and released. And the 2009 and 2010 whites and rosés lined up along the catwalk once again convinced me that Corbières is a good place to look going beyond the confines of red wine.

Red Corbières 2009

Château Sainte Lucie d’Aussou (48% Carignan, 17% Grenache, 35% Syrah) – enticing black cherry fruity peppery and minty nose, forest floor notes, not bad concentration and depth of fruit vs firm and punchy vs some roundness. Finishes a little ‘hot’ though. 1 €5.50
Château du Vieux Parc “Air de Rien” (50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Carignan) – tannins are a bit too stonky and dry, but at least it’s got some solid fruit. 1 €5.20
Château Prieuré de Borde-Rouge “Rubellis” (45% old-vine Carignan, 38% Grenache, 17% Syrah; converting to organic) – sweet vs smoky nose, fair depth of chunky fruit vs better tannins, less aggressive with rounder side vs grip and smoky black fruits. 1 €5.50
Château Les Palais “tradition” (50% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah) – undemanding with nice spicy black cherry notes vs some savoury vs wilder side, fairly soft vs chunky mouth-feel. 1 €6.20
Château de Bubas “Prieuré de Bubas” (50% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah) – ripe raisin edges vs firm but fairly attractive texture and fruity vs savoury finish. 1 €6
Domaine Sainte Croix “Le Fournas” (30% Carignan, 34% Grenache, 36% Syrah; organic) – dark fruity vs perfumed vs meaty edges, chunky and solid palate but tannins are textured despite that firmness, good concentration. Needs a few years. 2+ €8
Château de Sérame “Réserve” (65% Syrah, 16% Carignan, 19% Grenache; converting to organic) – a bit ‘reduced’ on the nose, moves on to vibrant dark cherry and solid but round tannins, fair depth length and balanced too. 1-2 About €7.50
Château Meunier St-Louis “A Capella” (mostly Syrah + Grenache) – minty herby nose, nice sweet fruit vs dry but attractive tannins, pretty firm finish vs underlying wild herbs/flowers/mushrooms and dark fruit, light savoury edges too. Might transform into something really nice. 1-2 €10.45
Château de Bubias “Clos Bubas” (50% Syrah, 40% Carignan, 10% Grenache) – chunky fruity modern style, grippy vs extracted fruit, not bad although expensive. 1 €16
Château Coulon-Veredus (organic) – nice spicy vibrant Syrah-led black-cherry style, chunky and tight with attractive tannins and ‘sweet & savoury’ finish. 1-2

Red Corbières 2008

Château Montfin “Carignena” (not clear whether 08 or 09 actually; 80% Carignan, 20% Grenache; converting to organic) – a bit reductive? and awkward, moves on to tight and fresh palate vs underlying perfumed fruit, grippy and taut vs touch of herby sweetness. 1+ €5
Domaine Serres Mazard “L’Origine” (40% Syrah, 30% Carignan, 30% Grenache) – maturing herbal berry tones, quite dry palate but has some elegance and freshness vs maturing fruit. 1
Château Sainte Lucie d’Aussou “Le Secret de Rudolph” (35% Syrah, 50% Carignan, 15% Grenache) – nice perfumed herby vs maturing nose, quite light but attractive ‘sweet & savoury’ thing vs tight dry tannins. 1 €7
Château Le Bouis Cuvée Roméo (70% Syrah, 30% Carignan) – Syrah-heavy and -friendly style, peppery black cherry vs bit of choco oak vs firm but much rounder than others. 1 €32!
Rigal/Château du Grand Caudont “Impatience” (45% Carignan, 35% Syrah, 20% Grenache) – a touch rustic/’bretty’ and soupy but it’s lusher at least with fair depth of fruit vs maturing savoury tobacco side, firm vs sweeter finish. 1 €9.50
Château du Vieux Parc “Selection” (40% Carignan, 40% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre) – has some aromatic crushed red and black fruits, softer and maturing texture, although still quite firm and punchy but underlying attractive ‘sweet & savoury’ going on. 1 €9.50
Château la Cendrillon “Inédite” (10% Carignan, 65% Syrah, 25% Grenache; organic) – shows quite a bit of ‘charming’ choco oak but there’s some substance at least, intriguing herbal/reductive note vs ‘sweet & savoury’ fruit, fairly attractive tannins and finish. 1+ €18
Château Coulon-Veredus “Réserve” (mostly Carignan) – herby vs savoury vs quite lush with leather tones, quite intense vs elegant. 1

Red Corbières 2010 (unfinished cask/tank samples)

Domaine des Anes “L’Enclos” – rich dark vs meaty side, chunky tannins vs vibrant fruit, pretty big and grippy vs attractive black cherry and damson. 1-2
Château Montfin “Mathilde” – again nice sweet vs spicy vs chunky, rounder tannins and less extracted/concentrated but nice fresh bite too vs good fruit. 1
Château de Lastours “Simone Descamps” – delicious dark cherry vs perfumed blueberry, nice firm vs fine tannins, grip vs elegant length. 2
Grand Moulin “Terres Rouges” - oak dominates at the mo vs pretty extracted vs rich ‘sweet & savoury’ fruit, difficult to taste but impressive depth. 2
Hauterive Le Haut – lively spicy cherry and cassis, pretty grippy and extracted but again vibrantly fruity vs structured. 1-2
Martinolles Gasparets – more subtle, nice crunchy blackberry, firm vs sweet, attractive even if a bit simple. 1
Château Meunier St-Louis “A Capella” – lovely pure spicy black cherry Syrah-esque style, chunky vs round tannins with ‘sweet & savoury’ edges, quite elegant finish despite the oomph and grip. 2
Meunier St-Louis Boutenac – leaner and less revealing, very tight and fresh, could be good. 1-2?
La Bastide – ‘biscuity’ youthful chunky fruity, nice grip vs sweet, simpler perhaps but lingers. 1+
Château Cascadais – a tad finer and tighter, cassis and black cherry, quite intense, nice coated tannins. 2
Château du Vieux Parc “Selection” – spicy and juicy, firm vs sweet; vibrant cherry on tight solid finish, that spicy herby side carries through nicely. 2
La Baronne “Les Chemins” – soy sauce tones, not v. revealing but it’s tight and concentrated, fair grip vs touches of underlying dark fruit. 1-2?
Beauregard-Mirouze – grippy vs spicy and tasty savoury side, powerful stuff vs chunky fruit. 1-2

White Corbières 2009
Château Trillol (85% Roussanne, 15% Maccabeu) - nice enough fresh aromatic pear and citrus vs weightier peach and honey, juicy mineral-ish finish, a tad short but fairly attractive vs a bit of oomph too. 1 €6.90
Château de L'Ille "Emilie" (55% Bourboulenc, 25% Vermentino, 20% Grenache Blanc) – lees-ier and edgier, more intense citrus vs fatter side, quite zingy and tight still; again nice enough style although not super exciting. 1 €7
Château Beauregard-Mirouze "Lauzina" (70% Roussanne, 30% Vermentino; converting to organic) - touches of toasty oak, gets creamier and fuller, ends up a bit too toasty although has some freshness vs weight. 1 €11
Château Maylandie "Exquises Esquisses" (100% Grenache Blanc) - banoffee pie nose, quite rich and rather vanilla-y, comes back a bit with nice weight and bite but a bit heavy. 1? €11
Château Ollieux Romanis "Prestige" (50% Roussanne, 50% Marsanne) - toasty and buttery, nice richness and concentration vs toasty finish, turning more hazelnutty although the oak's quite strong still; has fair oomph too, should integrate thanks to that fruit and attractive stirred-lees character. 1-2 €16
White Corbières 2010
Domaine La Bouysse "Cyprius" (60% Grenache Blanc, 35% Maccabeu, 5% Terret; converting to organic) - zesty zingy and very crisp, aromatic and light lees, bit lean perhaps but would be OK with seafood. 1 €8
Château Aumèdes Réserve (40% Grenache Blanc, 20% Roussanne, 40% Marsanne) - floral grapey almost Muscat-y kinda character, quite simple but nice enough fruity aromatic quaffer, dry and crisp. 1 €6
Roland Lagarde/Domaine Roque Sestière "Carte Noire" (45% Grenache Blanc, 35% Maccabeu, 10% Bourboulenc, 10% Vermentino) - nice zesty estery style vs a bit more substance, lees-y intensity vs fresh acidity vs touch of oily exotic. 1+ €5.50
Château Meunier St-Louis "Prestige" (Grenache Blanc) - quite rich vs banana aromatics, nice oily texture vs mineral bite, crisp steely and long vs lingering sweet fruit. 2 Value at €5.50!
Roland Lagarde "Vieilles Vignes" (55% Maccabeu, 35% Grenache Blanc, 10% Roussanne) - similar to his above white but definitely more intense, aromatic floral then exotic vs very crisp acidity and oomph too, long and quite classy. 2 Good value again €7.
Château du Vieux Parc “Selection” (mostly Grenache Blanc + Vermentino, Muscat) – toasty notes, toffee and banana vs aromatic and zingy, creamy coating then more mineral. Good, tad too much oak perhaps but it’s young of course. 1-2 €11
Gérard Bertrand “Blanc de Villemajou” - not much nose, builds up to buttery vs zesty palate, quite delicate actually with touch of toast vs bite. 2

Corbières Rosé 2010

Bonfils/Château Vaugelas “Presige” - candied red fruit cocktail, juicy fruity ‘vinous’ style, rounded oily creamy vs crisp-ish finish. 1
Domaine La Bouysse "Floréal" (90% Syrah, 10% Grenache; converting to organic) – full-on fruity, strawberry and raspberry, nice rounded creamy palate vs zesty undercurrent. 2 €7
Château Maylandie “Le Cabanon” (40% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 40% Grenache) - zestier tighter/lighter style, more Provence with chalky length vs light pink rose petal. 1 €5.90
Château Ollieux Romanis "Classique" (60% Grenache gris, 40% Cinsault) - similar elegant style, mouth-watering and delicate with rose petal and red cherry/cranberry. 1+ €7
Vignerons de Camplong "Peyres Nobles" (14% Cinsault, 36% Syrah, 50% Grenache) - attractive chunky ‘modern’ style, candied red fruits and crisp enough finish. 1 €4.75
Château Les Palais "tradition" (50% Cinsault, 25% Syrah, 25% Grenache) – perfumed rose petal and redcurrant, subtle crisp texture vs light fruit and zesty edges. 1 €5.50
Gérard Bertrand “Le Rosé de Villemajou” - quite tight and elegant vs red fruity, crisp and closed up at the mo. 1+
Château Vieux Moulin (30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 50% Grenache; converting to organic) - again quite tight and elegant vs rounder creamier vs red fruit tang, nice foodie probably. 1+ €5.50

Peruse the Languedoc winery A to Z on the right for lots more wines from and profiles on many of these producers.

22 March 2010

Languedoc: Château Maylandie, Corbières-Boutenac

Maylandie lies unobtrusively on the outskirts of the village of Ferrals, to the south of Lézignan and not far from the A61 (Narbonne-Toulouse) motorway. It's owned and run by Jean (whose father Jacques started the ball rolling in the 50s by buying a few vineyard parcels in the area), Anne-Marie and their daughter Delphine Maymil. There's a little shop at the entrance to the estate, where you can try their range: my favourites are the tasty concentrated Villa Ferrae and tobacco-tinged Carnache, aka ‘petites vendanges entre amis’ as the corresponding bunches were apparently picked by a few close friends. If you're planning a trip to get to know this wine region better, Maylandie is kitted out with two holiday gîtes across the yard from the château, which look out onto fetching vines. Delphine also organises walks around different vineyards within Corbières-Boutenac with a few other growers, if booked in advance.
I tried these wines in late October 2008, at a tasting laid on by the appellation people at Château Boutenac:
2007 Le Cabanon Corbières (Grenache Carignan Syrah Cinsault) - a touch 'reduced' on the nose,otherwise this wine has nice tangy cassis, cherry and liquorice fruit; fruity v crunchy v grippy finish. 85
2005 Cuvée Prestige Corbières (Grenache Carignan Syrah Mourvèdre) - attractive maturing resiny fruit with wild herb, 'tar' and wood undertones; dry texture v smoky fruit and good weight. 87+
2005 Villa Ferrae Corbières-Boutenac (Grenache Syrah Carignan) - resiny v savoury with appealing depth of rich 'tar' fruit; quite firm tannins at first v tasty and concentrated, worked well with the beef dish at lunch. 89+
2005 Carnache Corbières-Boutenac (50-50 Carignan Grenache) - fruitier style with tobacco and leather edges; again pretty firm mouth-feel but has that enticingly tasty, savoury maturing fruit on its long finish. 90+

Tasted in March 2010 at home:
2007 Carnache Corbières-Boutenac (Carignan/Grenache 13.5%) - black cherry, damson and cassis with smoky spicy tones, hints of tobacco and light vanilla/coconut too; attractive thick coating of dark chocolate, berries, liquorice and chunky dry tannins; quite concentrated and powerful with dense fruit, sweet vs meaty finish and lively, light coconut grip. Needs a few months in bottle to round out a little, yet pretty promising. 89-91

UPDATE! Latest vintages here  (Corbières & Boutenac report May 2011).

Ferrals-les-Corbières Tel: 04 68 43 66 50, www.maylandie.fr.

09 March 2010

Languedoc: Château Ollieux Romanis, Corbières-Boutenac

This neat slightly fading 19th-Century château-cum-farmhouse is, as legend has it, named after olive trees planted by Romans (uh oh, Roman alert: so they did ever do something for us then!), which used to cover this picturesque rolling property. It's found to the west of Fontfroide Abbey in Corbières-Boutenac country, a few kilometres northwest of Montséret off the D613 road to Thézan-des-Corbières. Jacqueline Bories has now handed over the reins to son Pierre who, together with Jean-Pierre Amigues are slowly converting the 130 ha (320 acre) estate over to organics.
There are at least 20 ha of Carignan with the youngest vines 50 years old and the most senior dating from 1896 apparently. Their Cuvée Prestige, made from this old Carignan with Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, exemplifies how attractive, concentrated and well balanced their reds are. Compare it to a €10 wine from elsewhere and feel self-righteous you discovered it here! Other highlights include the barrel-fermented cuvée Prestige white and seductive, oak-free, old Carignan-based Atal Sia (labelled as Boutenac AOC). There are also a couple of holiday gîtes, which might be integrated into a larger conversion of part of the winery buildings into a hotel and resto.

Tasted November-December 2008:
2007 Les Ollieux 
Corbières white (Marsanne Roussanne 13.5%) - attractive mix of exotic 'fat' fruit and mineral crispness, oily v zingy with nice weight and length. Oddbins (UK). 85+
2007 cuvée prestige white 
Château Ollieux Romanis (Marsanne Roussanne Grenache blanc 13.5%) - enticing buttery coconut nose, oily juicy textured fruit v spicy oak; lovely depth of fruit and exotic intensity, crisp v toasty finish. Needs a few months to come together fully. 89+
2006 cuvée Alice 
Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Grenache 13.5%) - fragrant peppery resiny cherry fruit, dry coating v liquorice 'sweetness'; lively spicy finish, nice style. 87+
2006 cuvée Classique 
Château Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Syrah Grenache 13.5%) - richer and more complex, although similar style tasty fruit; weightier with bigger tannins, closing up a bit on the finish. 89+
2005 cuvée Prestige 
Château Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah 14%) - smoky wilder side on the nose, ripe dark fruits too; concentrated and grippy v that tasty fruit again, more savoury finish bolstered by very firm tannins; well-balanced though with bitter chocolate oak very much in the background, very promising. 92+?
2007 Atal Sia 
Corbières-Boutenac (majority Carignan plus Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah 14%) - delicious pure perfumed fruit, lush v crunchy, lovely intense 'mineral' notes v dark fruits; fine long palate layered with herby perfumed spicy flavours, attractive rounded tannins adding poise. Later: very intense cassis and blueberry fruit v dense concentrated and grippy texture, tasty intriguing  peppery v liquorice finish. 92-94
2006 cuvée OR 
Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah 14%) - lots of toasty dark chocolate oak, concentrated and powerful with extracted tannins; the oak is covering up the fruit a little at the moment but this probably needs 1+ years to open up. 90?
Alicante Ollieux Romanis (14%) - different for sure, rich colour and deep aromas with peppery earthy black cherry/currant, plum and black olive too; quite gutsy, spicy and lush v dry yet soft tannins, attractive with fairly simple finish.85-87

Update March 2010: more info here including note on the fledgling 2009 Atal Sia (goes to Languedoc 09 and 08 vintage reports).
2008 Cuvée prestige white (
Grenache blanc Marsanne Roussanne) - quite toasty and grainy, perhaps too much although it did open up with food getting fatter and tastier vs still quite tight and mineral.
2007 Atal Sia Corbières-Boutenac (mostly 
Carignan GrenacheMourvèdre Syrah) - a second tasting confirms my note above: delicious nose showing perfumed blue/black fruits; nice "chalky" tannins with rich yet crunchy mouth-feel, herby minty vs savoury flavours on the finish. 92+

More Ollieux Romanis here too ("Top L&R reds over €10" tasting, 2007).

And latest COR here (Corbières-Boutenac report May 2011 featuring 2010 vintage plus 2009 and 2008 revisited...).

Ollieux Romanis, 11200 Montséret. Tel: 04 68 43 35 20, www.chateaulesollieux.com.


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