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Showing posts with label Corbières. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corbières. Show all posts

10 May 2016

France: 'wines of the moment'


Domaine Marguerite Dupasquier Rully blanc 2013 (13% abv) - I bought a few bottles of this over a year ago (click to see note made on International Chardonnay Day last May); this was the last one and what a revelation. Buttery and almost exotic with light toasty coconut edges, nicely rounded and creamy yet still has some fresh bite too. £10.50 Asda.


P. Desroches Brut non-vintage (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, 12%) - Made by the Nicolas Feuillatte winery actually, this stylish well-made crowd-pleaser confirms that Marks & Spencer know what they're doing on the Champers front. Elegant yet toasty/yeasty, eminently drinkable at £14.50 on offer! It supposedly usually costs £29, but I wouldn't pay that for it. Funny how the other multiple grocers, including Tesco who was the worst offender, have stopped doing these so-called (and dishonest) half-price deals (which blatantly aren't), but Marks is still doing it on certain Champers labels anyway. Mustn't grumble ah.
Buy my Champagne e-supplement HERE.


Alain Grignon Carignan Sélection Vieilles Vignes 2013, Pays d'Hérault (12.5%) - Attractive example of the fashion for making varietal reds from old-vine Carignan, this is aromatic and quite soft with fairly intense berry fruit flavours. Dunne's €12.50/€9 on offer in the Republic/about £9-£10 in Belfast? (Most of Dunne's NI stores aren't licensed it appears).
Laurent Miquel Syrah 'special edition' 2014, Pays d'Oc (13%) - Lovely pure peppery black cherry fruit with a light bitter twist of tannin on the palate, plenty of sexy Syrah style but reasonably subtle with it. Dunne's €9 on offer.
Domaine Jones
Fitou 2014 (old vine Carignan, Grenache, Syrah from 15 small plots; 14.5%) - Concentrated (blue)berry fruit with uplifting crunchy vs sweet profile mix, lively spicy and powerful finish. £87-£95 case of 6 (depending on mix).
Blanc Barrique 2010 (Grenache gris, 13.5%) - The follow up vintage to apparently a 'by accident' barrel-aged white, made in limited quantities, this is quite oaky to start yet has delicious nutty oxidised and oily characters and rounded texture, unusual and tasty. £80 for 6.
Château l'Argentier E&F Jourdan Cinsault Vieilles Vignes 2014 (old vines) - Lovely aromatic sweet fruit, soft and oily palate although actually pretty concentrated with mature vs fresh finish. £14.99 Red Squirrel Wine.
Château Montfin Saint-Jacques 2014 Corbières blanc (Roussanne, Grenache blanc, organic) - Concentrated and intense dry white, zingy yeast-lees notes vs oily rounded mouth-feel, lovely wine. £90 for 6 Joie de Vin. More Montfin HERE.

More of the latest from the Jones', Argentier, Montfin and lots more besides from the Languedoc to follow as an update to my 'French wine tasting and touring' e-magazine (drawn from extensive tastings at the recent 'Outsiders' tasting in Dublin and at the London Wine Fair)...

Bordeaux and the South-West

Château Lassègue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2006 (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% abv) - This posh chateau is found lurking among some of the Saint-Emilion region's best vineyard sites, and is part of the Jackson Family Wines' group, "a collection of premium wineries owned privately by Barbara Banke and the Jackson family," the blurb says, probably better known for their West Coast US wines. Still dense and quite oaky for a ten year-old red, although with distinct brownish hints to its otherwise dark colour, it shows a classy mix of lush plummy fruit, maturing meaty notes and spicy nicely textured oak/tannin combo to finish. c. £25 a bottle - £152 for a case of 6 from closcru.com.
Domaine de la Maletie Monbazillac 2013 (Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, 12.5%) - Bargain Sauternes replacement made in the same way but in Monbazillac on the Dordogne River in the Bergerac region. Delicious exotic apricot marmalade nose with spicy 'volatile' edges, lush and sweet but with nicely balanced freshness and lighter touch. £7.99 Lidl.
Combel la Serre 'Pur Fruit de Causse' 2014 Cahors (Malbec, 12.5%) - Alluring fruity 'funky' nose, very Malbec berry and spice style though with light bite and grip. £13.99 Red Squirrel Wine. Update on CLS to follow, and lots more Cahors HERE.


JP Muller 2012 Riesling Engelberg Grand Cru (12.5%) - Pretty classy dry white at this price: classic developing Riesling nose with aromatic oily 'mineral' notes, similar maturing palate profile yet still quite concentrated with some fresh bite and elegant finish. €12.99/€9.99 on offer Lidl (Ireland).

26 June 2014

Languedoc & Roussillon: Domaines Auriol

Les Domaines Auriol, brainchild of Claude Vialade (pic.) who set up the company in 1995, is a producer and property owner with organically run vineyards in Corbières, operates as a broker buying and selling other estate wines and varietals and also offers a winemaking service sourcing tailor-made wines for clients from a whole host of partner wineries across the big south. Apparently they export 90% of production, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find some of their wines in a country near you. I was told Myliko is the UK importer but couldn't find any obvious Auriol wines on their site.

More info @ www.saint-auriol.com, where I found Claude's imaginative and amusing catchphrase: "Redécouvrir l'artisanat industriel," roughly translating as "Rediscover mass-produced craftsmanship," obviously a contradiction in terms but I think she's poking fun at snooty wine people who believe all big is bad. I remember seeing signs for "pain industriel" in French supermarkets, used in a patronising if not deadpan accurate sense like that. Anyway, here's a small selection of her wines sampled over the last few months.

2012 Les Flamants Picpoul de Pinet – enticing yeasty edges, oily vs crisp mouth-feel, concentrated and stylish dry white.
2012 Belles du Sud Cabernet Franc – nice Cab Franc styling showing red pepper notes vs a smokier and richer side.
2012 Domaine Mirabau Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache, Syrah) – a tad 'volatile' and soupy perhaps but has nice soft rich palate.
2011 Intense de Claude Vialade Languedoc (Syrah, Grenache) – attractive ripe dark fruit style with a hint of spice and grip vs lusher mouth-feel.
2011 Croix d'Aline Saint-Chinian (Syrah, Grenache) – lots of lovely sweet cherry and liquorice fruit, ripe and soft palate with complex smoky maturing notes.
2013 Château Cicéron rosé - attractive style dry rosé with creamy red fruits vs lees-y and crisp mouth-feel.

13 March 2014

Languedoc: Domaines Paul Mas update

This belated catching-up sees a couple of striking new poking-fun labels, another sizeable vineyard added to the Mas stable, a variety of 2011 and 2012 vintage reds and whites tasted last year and recently, plus a few words on that "road is long" restaurant 'project' mentioned previously which finally opened a year ago...

First off, Jean Claude Mas has been vineyard shopping again: La Ferrandière comes to 70 hectares (170 acres) near the pretty village of Aigues-Vives in the Aude region and is planted with Cabernet, Grenache, Malbec, Marselan, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Viognier. This latest addition to the total 478 ha now owned/managed by Mas (eight different estates), was "to ensure their development on the French market as well as abroad," the blurb explains. The company has been very export focused so far - 97% of sales in 58 countries apparently - and also works with 70 contracted growers across the Languedoc for extra fruit source.
Their new on-site restaurant - wine bar - wine shop Côté Mas is pretty good by all accounts I've heard (review to follow when I've been there), and looks worth a trip if you're touring this area. And following in the self-mocking footsteps of Arrogant and Elegant Frog, Ribet Red and such like, Doms P Mas have just launched a pair of Striking French! varietals. As you can see, the labels sport a cartoon character demo holding banners saying On veut du Viognier / On veut du Merlot, as in "We want Viognier/Merlot" obviously. See what I thought of them by clicking on the link below, along with a selection of other new vintages from across their extensive portfolio (Grés de Montpellier, Limoux, Picpoul, Pays d'Oc, Terrasses du Larzac, Corbières...).
CLICK HERE TO SEE MY NOTES / REVIEWS as well as lots of other DPM wines, comments and info penned from 2004 to 2011.

21 February 2014

Languedoc & Roussillon: "wines of the mo"

Picked out from a South of France (goes to 'Sud de France Top 100' site, some of these wines were competition winners) tasting I did a few weeks ago for the www.niwsi.co.uk in Belfast, these wines were probably my favourite half-dozen from an interesting and diverse line-up, just for the pure pleasure of plonking a few tasty words out there in the blogosphere...

Domaine Denois 'Sainte Marie' Limoux blanc 2010 (single site "high-altitude" Chardonnay, barrel-fermented/aged) - the best of the three whites we tasted, I found it pretty much as I remembered it as per this note here (including more info on JL Denois and the wine). Touch of class. €15 cellar door.

Château de Cazeneuve 'Cynarah' Pic Saint-Loup 2011 (Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache) - attractive juicy ripe black cherry and liquorice fruit, soft tannins and rounded mouth-feel with a touch of earthy spice and mint. £12.95 the Wine Society. Previously on Cazeneuve.

Domaine Modat 'Comme Avant' Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany 2010 (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan from some of the oldest vines; half of it aged in new oak for 16 months) - a popular choice, I've already reviewed it here where you'll find more about the producer too. Nice mouthful of Med red, a tad expensive though. James Nicholson £14.95 / €21.80.

Pic by Ros Wilson
Château de Lastours 'Grande Réserve' Corbières 2008 (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre: oldest vine selection 30 to 40 y.o; 75% of the blend aged 1 year in French oak) - attractive maturing smoky savoury and dried fruit side vs concentrated and still fairly firm structure, well balanced too. c. €18. More Lastours here.

Laurent Miquel 'Bardou' Saint Chinian 2008 Grande Cuvée (mostly Syrah from selected sites on the Cazal Viel estate, 14 months in French oak - 55% new) - another pretty serious red I'd tasted previously (goes to my special supplement on St Chinian inc. profile on Miquel and notes on several wines), showing a fair bit of oak but it's concentrated and structured with nice fruit. £16 Excel Wines, €20.99 Dunnes.

Domaine Cazes Rivesaltes ambré 2000 (100% Grenache blanc fortified to 16% abv, aged 7+ years in old tuns, 118 g/l residual sugar) - classic style with enticing oxidized walnut/pecan notes, complex flavours with nice sweet vs tangy and savoury finish and a bit of 'cut'. Liberty Wines approx retail £15 half-bottle. Lots more old Cazes here.

23 July 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Sainte-Croix update, Corbières

Or the 'Hautes Corbières' as those folk who live up on the real high ground around here like to say, in the sleepy wee village of Fraissé-des-Corbières about a dozen kilometres inland from the La Palme lagoon or a short stretch to the northeast of Embres-et-CastelmaurePrevious words on and wines from Domaine Sainte-Croix on this blog can be found, from 2009 and 2010, HERE with further updates here (Corbières report May 2011) and here (2009 vintage showcase penned June 2010). I talked to owner / grower / winemaker / sales / everything 'team' Jon and Liz Bowen earlier this year at the dazzling premiere (well, the cinema seats were red at least) of Ken Payton's Languedoc wine documentary 'Les Terroiristes du Languedocin downtown Montpellier, which features Jon and Liz among a dozen like-minded small estate wineries, and at Millésime Bio organic trade show the next day. Including a touch of sampling, goes without saying, their newly released 2011s mostly that, in line with this vintage generally speaking in the south, were fresh, elegant, somewhat closed up and not looking very approachable then; needing more time to express themselves but a promising year perhaps, subtle rather than blockbuster...

Liz & Jon Bowen from facebook.com/LesTerroiristesDuLanguedoc
2011 La Serre white (Grenache blanc & gris) - nutty appley notes with lightly oxidized edges, a tad too 'volatile' and tart in the end. I've liked this white much more in previous vintages (see links at the top).
2011 Rosace des Vents rosé (Carignan, Syrah; 12.5% abv) - rounded 'oily' textured style rosé with subtle red fruits and rose petal notes, rounded vs fresh on its attractive finish.
2012 Aramon (an old, almost disappeared variety) - reductive tones to start, moves on to floral berry and violet notes, juicy and refreshing with nice ripe vs crunchy mouth-feel.
2011 Le Fournas (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) - funky and chunky layered with ripe blue / black berries, attractive 'fresh' tannins and acidity vs dried berry fruit, tight elegant finish.
2011 Pourboire Nature (Carignan, Syrah) - more baked and savoury on the nose, concentrated palate with fresh undercurrent, a touch lean perhaps but it's subtle and long again.
2011 Carignan old-vine (planted in 1905, plus "a tiny bit" of Grenache and Mourvèdre; tank sample) - savoury vs ripe profile with light oak grain, slightly cooked berry fruits, again it's tight, fresh and very long; rather 'unobvious' when I tried it although intense.
2011 Celèstra (80% Grenache + Mourvèdre; 14.5% abv) - quite rich and fruity with grainy coconut tones, chunky and firm mouth-feel with nice meaty edges, has fair oomph yet still with that elegant touch, closes up on the finish. Should be very good.

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:

12 December 2011

Languedoc: Cave d'Embres et Castelmaure, Corbières

UPDATE: the brooding 2008 vintage of one of their top Corbières reds, called La Pompadou, is now available in the UK via Laithwaites / Direct Wines at £11.99. My impressions of it have been chiselled below, as well as a profile penned last year including a fascinating insight into why the bright hypnotic stripes, and notes on a few of their range sampled on that particular occasion. Here we go:
2008 La Pompadou (Carignan, Grenache) - perfumed blueberry aromas / flavours, quite tight and fresh mouth-feel with grip, power and concentration lurking underneath. Still seemed a bit young when I tasted it a few months ago, very good though.

The Embres & Castelmaure name evokes myth and legend, as a wonderful place lost in time yet one of the first co-op cellars (although much smaller than many) to understand what changes needed to be made to move forwards into the, perhaps inevitably and certainly very competitive, quality wine arena. This enchanting mediaeval village, or rather (later) merger of two villages, lying at the southern end of the Corbières, was where Patrick de Hoym de Marien, who's still the president, and MD Bernard Pueyo instigated a major rethink and replanting program in the 80s; as well as identifying and mapping out all vineyard plots owned by the co-op's 70 members. This thorough "back to basics" in the vineyards - proper pruning, tilling, controlling yields, selecting grapes etc. - was complemented by upgrading winemaking and ageing techniques and equipment, with timely advice from a few key consultants and culminating in building a brand new cellar opened in 2007.
By the way, I pinched the picture, with the loud coloured stripes featured on their labels, off their poetic website, where you'll also find some stunning pictures and tips for staying and eating in this lost corner of the Corbières (the "main road" to the village only goes to, erm, the village). I sampled these wines at the enigmatically named "Salon du X" - it's not that much of a mystery, actually, a tasting organised by their agent Xavier Peyrot des Gachons with a dozen Languedoc & Roussillon winegrowers present (there were originally 10 in his "gang", I think) hence the X - in April 2010 at Domaine Gayda's impressive winery & restaurant complex, found between Limoux and Castelnaudary.

2009 Corbières white (Grenache blancMacabeu) - juicy and zesty vs exotic banana fruit; nice depth and oily vs crisp mouth-feel. 85+
2008 La comporte du garage (barrel-fermented Grenache blanc) - a bit spicy wood dominated vs juicy and colourful fruit; lightly creamy and maturing notes vs a bit of zing on the finish. 85+
2009 rosé - attractive "boiled sweets" fruity style, crisp and zesty to finish. 80+
La Buvette (mostly  .
Grenache Carignan 14.5%) - light colour with lovely ripe soft raspberry and sweet liquorice notes; quite stocky actually with a light touch of tannin, nice easy style. 85
2008 Castelmaure (Carignan 
Grenache Syrah) - scented "garrigue" with vibrant blueberry and blackberry fruit; juicy lively palate with a bit of weight and grip, subtle lingering fruit. 87
2007 La Pompadou (Carignan 
Grenache Syrah) - enticing cassis and black cherry fruit with more depth and concentration and a hint of chocolate oak; appealing "sweet" vs perfumed vs chunky finish, again tasty and well-balanced. 88+
2007 Grande Cuvée (
Grenache Syrah) - riper liquorice nose and spicier too; fairly lush texture with a tad more oak, attractive depth and grip vs quite concentrated with "sweet" vs dry finish. 89+

4 Route des Canelles, 11360 Embres & Castelmaure. 04 68 45 91 83 / www.castelmaure.com

09 September 2011

Languedoc: Domaine Ledogar, Corbières

From dynamicvines.com/producer/domaine-ledogar
Xavier Ledogar took over running this 22 hectare (55 acre) estate in 1997, which gently sprawls around the rather quiet village of Ferrals-les-Corbières. He's now working entirely with back-breaking, and very time-consuming, biodynamic techniques focusing particularly on organic fertilizers (bullshit, obviously, or sheep or donkey even as he does use a handsome couple as vineyard workers: follow the link under the pic above then click on "more photos"...), herbal and plant ‘teas’ (used as natural insecticide sprays), while closely watching those lunar cycles, man... These three wines are available via their UK importer Dynamic Vines priced from approx £6 to £15. Usual comment applies to mysterious 1, 2, 3...

2008 “Tout Nature” red vin de table (Mourvèdre, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah; no SO2) - meaty baked edges, rich vs crunchy fruit, lovely intense mouth-feel with subtle grip and lively finish. 2
2006 Corbières-Boutenac red (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) - herby edges vs maturing and liquorice tones, still grippy palate with hints of cedary oak, lush vs tight profile; not so sure, lacks charm perhaps. 1
2010 white Corbières (Chenin Blanc, Macabeu, Grenache Blanc & Gris) - honey vs apple aromas, intense and concentrated vs rounded and oily texture. Yum. 2

26 July 2011

Les Clos Perdus, Corbières / Agly Valley

Updated March 2014 - a tasty trio by Paul and Hugo revisited in London last year, imported there by Indigo Wine. Their (now quite pricey) wines are also sold elsewhere in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia - follow the web link at the bottom of this page. Read on for some words about the people and the places.
2011 L'Extreme blanc Côtes Catalanes (Grenache gris/blanc planted in 1903) – juicy and yeast lees-y, floral and nutty too then developing richer more honeyed fruit with lees notes vs fresh juicy mouth-feel to finish. Good white, should be for £27.50.
2008 L'Extreme rouge Côtes Catalanes (75% Lladoner Pelut + Syrah; total sulphites 40 mg/l) – developing 'tar' and meaty notes, quite extracted and chocolate oaky still yet lush and full palate, light bitter twist too but overall quite impressive. £27.50
2010 Prioundo Corbières (Grenache, Cinsault; total sulphites 30 mg/l) – ripe and smoky with dark yet perfumed berry fruit, maturing meaty notes too, concentrated with nice textured tannins, peppery and punchy finish. Yum. £18

July 2011 update: Paul Old, the winemaking half of "the lost vine-plots" which he established with Hugo Stewart in 2003, was showing and pouring their wines at the first "natural" wine fair in London back in May (click there for more info). These wines are imported by Dynamic Vines in the UK. Read on for more wise words and tasty wines dating from my travels 2007 to 2010 (extracted from WineWriting.com). Look at the little blurb on "wine scores" on the right for an explanation/rant on my curious 1-2-3 "marking"...
2009 L’Extreme white VDP des Côtes Catalanes (Grenache gris) – grainy toasty edges vs exotic peachy fruit, soft rounded mouth-feel then crisper finish. 1 although expensive at £15-£20.
2010 Macabeu (not bottled) – steely tight white wine developing light nutty tones, bright floral citrus fruit with a nice bitter twist, subtle refreshing finish. 1+
2007 L’Extreme red Côtes Catalanes (Lledoner pelut/Grenache) – a little closed up at first but it’s nicely perfumed slowly revealing peppery liquorice notes, has savoury leather touches on its rounded vs powerful palate, real depth too. 2+ £15-£20
2009 Cuvée 71 Corbières (mostly Carignan) – ripe berry aromas lined with hints of dark chocolate and vibrant black cherry, attractive dry vs ‘sweet’ tannins. 2 £10-£15
2006 Mire la Mer Corbières (Mourvèdre based) – maturing ‘sweet/savoury’ profile, black/blueberry fruit with ‘forest floor’ undertones; lovely concentration and style with firm yet still lively mouth-feel and elegant length. 2+ £10-£15

This scattered collection of old-vine parcels is owned, and transformed into the wines below, by English farmer Hugo Stewart and Australian winemaker, former dancer Paul Old (now there's an interesting combination of talents), who have vineyards in the Corbières region and in the northern Roussillon near Maury (hence the title of this post and inclusion in two 'guides'). They follow many biodynamic principles and tend the vines and their environment entirely by hand; well, using a few viticultural tools no doubt. The cellar is located in Peyriac-de-Mer on the coastal side of the Corbières, not far from Sigean and the sea obviously. Sampled at the Fenouillèdes in April 2007:
2005 Prioundo Corbières (around Villesques: Grenache Cinsault Mourvèdre) – quite tight and fresh, peppery v cherry fruit, a touch bitter perhaps but it displays nice elegance. 85-87
2005 Cuvée 31 Corbières (Peyriac area: Mourvèdre Carignan Grenache) – meaty black olive characters, more weight and power, again fresh bite and tangy grip but balanced. 87-89
2005 Mire la Mer
Corbières (Mourvèdre Carignan Grenache) – splash of vanilla oak with black fruit coating underneath, rounder finish yet still pretty extracted; quite attractive in the end but lacks soul (too much wood probably).
2005 L'Extreme Vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Maury area:
Lladoner Pelut/Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) – lush palate v quite toasty oak, closes up on the finish; difficult to tell, could be good... come back to it in 6 to 12 months. 89+?

Clos Perdus update January & April 2009
I popped in to see Hugo and Paul in their well-chilled cellar in Peyriac in Jan. and tasted a few more wines on their stand at
the Fenouillèdes wine show, in Tautavel in April. Latest news is the purchase of some "very old" Grenache Gris vines between Mas Las Frédas and Maury, to boost their white wine range; something I'm seeing more and more of generally, with increasingly impressive results.
Grenache Gris (off the lees) - yeasty intensity v crisp mineral bite.
2008 Grenache Gris (older vines) - a bit more barrel adds nice roundness and texture v orange peel zestiness.
2007 Prioundo Corbières (mostly Grenache + Cinsault, from tank but final blend about to be bottled) - really perfumed and peppery with liquorice notes; fresh then fatter palate, very nice style. 87+
2007 L'Extreme (mostly Lladoner Pelut + Syrah from Mas Fred, nearly finished sample) - smokier and richer black fruits and spice; lively bite and length v light coconut oak texture. Paul wasn't "entirely happy" with this blend and might tweak it, but it's still v. promising though. 88+
2007 Mire la Mer
(Mourvèdre Carignan Grenache) – dense smoky black olive, berry and cassis; dry and firm mouth-feel v lovely fruit, power and well-balanced tasty finish. 89+
2007 Cuvée 51
Corbières (mostly Peyriac: 50% Carignan + 35% Grenache + Mourvèdre, 14% alc.) - quite rich and medium concentrated with lively floral and dark fruit and light chocolate backdrop. 87+
Lladoner Pelut (from tank) - tangy cassis v spicy v ripe dark fruit, dry rounded texture.
2007 Le
Rosé (mostly Mourvèdre 13.5%) - deep orange colour, chunky and juicy with ripe raspberry fruit turning creamier, weighty v dry finish. Nice style. 87
Cinsault - floral and plummy.
Mourvèdre  - floral v black olive.
2008 Le
Blanc - nice leesy edges v citrus and mineral bite; fresh and dry turning more interesting on the finish. 85
2008 L'Extreme
blanc - fatter and more exotic, again nice yeast-lees and mineral bite v apricot notes. 87
2008 Le Rouge (
Grenache) - very white peppery and explosive berry fruit; ripe v dry mouth-feel, attractive style. 87

2010 UPDATE: Paul was manning a stand at the enigmatically named "Salon du X" - it's not that much of a mystery, actually, a tasting organised by agent Xavier Peyrot des Gachons with a dozen Languedoc & Roussillon winegrowers present (there were originally 10, I think) hence the X - in April at Domaine Gayda's impressive winery & restaurant complex between Limoux and Castelnaudary.
2009 Le Rosé (90% Mourvèdre) - wild and herby edges vs creamier red fruits; tight and quite lean mouth-feel vs a bit of weight and roundness. 85+
2006 Mire la Mer
Corbières (70% Mourvèdre etc. 14% alc.) – chocolate/coconut oak notes vs rich and smoky backdrop, quite toasty yet layered with ripe dark fruit and spices; attractive full rounded finish, tasty and well balanced in the end. 88-90
2007 L'Extreme vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (mostly Lladoner Pelut/Grenache + Syrah) - juicy black cherry, lush with "sweet" liquorice vs spicy undertones; quite soft tannins and finish vs 14% weight. 87+

17 Rue du Marché, 11440 Peyriac-de-Mer. Mobile France: 06 70 08 00 65, UK tel: 01725 511119; www.lesclosperdus.com.

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.


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