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Showing posts with label Faugères. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faugères. Show all posts

05 September 2011

Languedoc: Clos Fantine, Faugères

The Andrieu family is the brains and brawn behind Clos Fantine, one of several high-quality estates dotted around the ‘village’ of Cabrerolles in the generally exciting Faugères appellation lying to the north of Béziers. They say their red wines see very "natural" handling as they're made with wild yeasts, no added sulphur dioxide and not fined or filtered, which can be a bit risky but the result speaks for itself here. Their extraordinary white is fashioned from the disappearing Terret variety, which you find here and there in isolated spots in the Languedoc and can make eyebrow-raising full-flavoured dry white wines, as you can see from my glowing note below. The downside of rarity and lovely quirkiness is a hefty price tag: this white goes for about £15-£20 from importer Les Caves de Pyrène, among one or two other wine merchants in London, while their enticing red is nearer £10…
2009 “Valcabrières” white (Terret) - oxidising style vs peach and dried apricot aromas/flavours, ‘sappy’ too; rich intense mouth-feel, concentrated yet elegant, quirky stuff. 2-3
2009 “Tradition” red Faugères (Mourvèdre, Carignan, Grenache) - quite ‘baked’ tones but this has lush ripe liquorice fruit, meaty and concentrated palate with solid yet still rounded tannins, pretty intense finish. 2
As usual, more on "1, 2, 3" on the right...

04 April 2011

Languedoc: Domaine de Cébène, Faugères

Brigitte Chevalier purchased a few parcels of lofty vineyards in 2006 in the northern reaches of the Faugères appellation, which give their name to three different wines reflecting terrain and grape variety. Les Bancèls, the name traditionally coined by the locals for high schist terraces on the Cévennes foothills, is a blend of east- and north-facing Syrah, north-facing Grenache and Mourvèdre, which Brigitte believes is particularly at home on her highest south-facing slopes. Felgaria is a barrel-selection cuvée based on at least half of the latter variety plus the other two, with less Grenache in it. However, for those hardcore G-aficionados out there, she also makes another red called “Ex Arena” from 85% Grenache sourced from sandy pebbley deposits in a different spot.

The estate has been converted over to organic winegrowing from the beginning with “official” status granted when the 2010s are released. Overall, on evidence of three vintages (see below), Brigitte’s wines look very promising, even if a touch dear; well, for me anyway, and no more than many other small-production hand-crafted wineries. These five reds were sampled at the “Languedoc Millésimes” tastings in the region (21-25 March 2011), where I met and talked to Brigitte one evening. I’ve used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 here, if you get my drift. Euro prices are cellar door per bottle inc. taxes, added later so didn’t influence my notes (if it makes any difference).

Les Bancèls 2009 (50% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre) - sweet cherry fruity nose with aromatic wild herbs, strawberry and peppery edges; solid grippy palate vs lovely fruit and nice rounded tannins. 1.5-2 €14
Tasted one year previously: Les Bancèls 2009 - lively fruit on the nose; more austere palate with power and bite, although again attractive tannins. €13 87
Les Bancèls 2008 (similar blend) - similar nose, nicer fruit palate with maturing oily touches, peppery and black cherry; quite punchy/hot on finish vs firm vs bit of sweet & savoury. 1 €14
Les Bancèls 2010 (cask/vat sample, will be the first certified organic vintage) - delicious black cherry/berry fruit with some earthy savoury edges, quite chunky palate and tannins but nice balance. Promising. 2
Cuvée Felgaria 2009 (50% Mourvèdre, 35% Syrah, 15% Grenache) - wild herb and tobacco notes, lovely spicy fruit and intensity, nice rounded vs dry tannins and plenty of that peppery vs sweet fruit. Yum. 2-3 €30
Cuvée Felgaria 2008 (similar blend of Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache) - lovely intricate nose, herby and minty even vs developing sweet & savoury fruit; subtle oak texture and choc vs cherry fruit, concentration and oomph vs elegance (although a tad hot in the end maybe). 2 €30

01 April 2011

Languedoc: Domaine Alquier, Faugères

Established by pioneering dad Gilbert more than 40 years ago (there weren't many grape-growers making their own wines at that time), this 12 ha / 30 acre estate is run nowadays by charming couple Frédéric (son of) and Florence Alquier. They make traditional lush smoky reds from Syrah, Mourvèdre and old Carignan & Grenache; and, as I've seen elsewhere in the region, an increasingly good white Faugères fashioned from those star Rhone varieties Roussanne and Marsanne, as demonstrated by the forthcoming 2009 vintage (see notes below). Mind you, there won't be much of it as yields in 09 for whites were "down to 15 hl/ha instead of 40 to 50 usually," Frédéric told me as we tasted in his cellar in November 2009. By the way, I couldn't help noticing one of those newfangled basket presses (wooden slats on the outside with automated plungey screw bit) - not that I get so excited about winery equipment, but these are becoming very de rigueur as they seem to be "much better for reds than the old ones like Vaslin," as Frédéric explained.
So, if you're touring around this pretty area (definitely wild-pretty rather than pretty-pretty), why not go and taste in the Alquier's cosy on-site tasting room, which joins on to the office at the back of their house across the yard from the more visible new cellar. More details of where to find them etc. are on their website: follow the signs heading for Pézènes off to the left on the way out of the village. Alquier's wines are imported into the UK by Richards Walford (a bit of an estate-Languedoc specialist who sell to many well-known London restaurants).

2007 white Faugères (Roussanne, Marsanne) - honeyed and lightly toasted with attractive colourful spicy fruit; peppery and quite powerful palate showing mature creamy notes then mineral finish, drinking now. 83-85
2009 white (Roussanne Marsanne vat sample) - delicious citrus vs exotic fruit, floral and peppery too; juicy and crisp vs subtle roundness and weight, already very nice. 87+
2006 Faugères "tradition" (Syrah Grenache Carignan) - not so open on the nose, develops nice dark cherry fruit with herbal red pepper tones; juicy and lightly smoky with liquorice flavours, softish tannins saying drink me now although it will keep a couple of years longer. 85
2005 Faugères "tradition" - resiny mature fruit with spicy touches, again quite elegant and drinking now, although this has more weight and tannins than the 06, then "sweet" liquorice on the finish. 85-87
2005 Eugènie Faugères (mostly Syrah) - slightly toasty oak and chocolate coating enhanced by spicy black cherry fruit; shows more depth, concentration and structure with layered tannins adding grip and closing it up a little on the finish. 89
2004 Eugènie - more perfumed even with smokier fruit too, softer and more elegant with attractive dry texture vs "sweet/savoury" fruit and grainy edges. 87
Tasted from vat or cask:
2007 "tradition" - nice crunchy berry fruit vs darker liquorice, spicy and juicy with sexy tannins. 87
2008 "tradition" - more floral violet aromas, pure peppery black cherry too; liquorice flavours again, more concentrated and grippier than the 07, promising. 87-89
2006 Eugènie - menthol notes with light coconut/cedar spice; appealing lush mouthfeel with dark fruit vs firm and spicy finish, complex and well-balanced. 89-91

Update - a couple of latest Alquier vintages here:

Clos Timothée, 6 Route de Pézènes-les-Mines, 34600 Faugères. Tel: 04 67 95 15 21, www.gilbert-alquier.fr.

14 March 2005

Faugères Saint-Chinian Coteaux du Languedoc tasting

Notes and ratings on 35 wines selected from the "Meet the winegrowers" tasting held at Mas de Saporta in Montpellier, 14th March 2005. More info on these regions and producers in reports written for UK trade paper Off Licence News (scroll down), including the latest developments in the Languedoc and Roussillon.

Faugères

2003 La Closeraie, Abbaye Sylva Plana (Grenache Syrah Carignan) - Nice pure spicy Syrah fruit comes through on the nose, blackberry/currant; shows good bite v softness on the finish. 85-87
2003 La Longe de l'Abbé, Abbaye Sylva Plana - Has a tad more weight and extract than la Closeraie, plus a touch of wood adds texture; grip v black fruits, finishing a little bitter perhaps. 85-87
2003 Florentin Abbal, Domaine Valambelle (Syrah Cinsault Mourvèdre) - Floral spice on the nose, soft black fruits in the mouth set against firm grip and mineral bite, again shows elegance on the finish. 87-89
2003 L'Angolet, Domaine Valambelle (Syrah Carignan Mourvèdre) - More perfumed style with dominant Syrah spicy medicine notes, quite concentrated showing elegant grip v nice fruit. 85-87
2003 Les Petites Mains, Domaine de l'Ancienne Mercerie - Attractive 'sweet' herbal fruit, has soft mouthfeel yet firm tannins at the same time. 87-89

Saint-Chinian

2002 Clos de la Simonette, Mas Champart (70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Displays pretty good balance of firmness and forward fruit, tight elegant finish too. 87-89
2003 Clos de la Simonette, Mas Champart (vat sample, 70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Shows promising classic mix of firm yet rounded tannins and lovely ripe sweet fruit within a chunky framework. 89-91
2002 Causse de Bousquet, Mas Champart (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan) - Also shows some of the nice concentrated black fruits of the C d'A but this has firmer leaner structure. 85-87
2003 Côte d'Arbo, Mas Champart (Vat sample Syrah Grenache Carignan) - Offers youthful chunky black cherry fruit, not finished or together but shows promise.
2001 Gabrielle de Spinola, Château Coujan (45% Mourvèdre) - Attractive sweet fruit offering black cherry and liquorice, once again nicely textured dry v ripe tannins. 87
2001 Ile de Corail, Château Coujan (100% Mourvèdre) - Slightly baked/oxidised on the nose, rich and rustic tobacco style with meaty character, good concentration with firm yet ripe and round tannins. 89
2000 Grand Vin, Domaine de la Madura - Quite chunky, herbal and spicy with firm still closed palate; more extracted than their cuvée classique, but it works well here showing nice roundness too. 90
2001 Grand Vin, Domaine de la Madura - Chunky like the 2000, this vintage offers more black fruit coating coupled with solid tannins and depth of fruit; closes up on the finish showing promising future. 90-92
2002 Les Grés, Borie La Vitarele (Syrah Mourvèdre) - Thick liquorice fruit set against beefy tannins, needs a bit of time to develop but shows promise. 89
2003 Terres Blanches, Borie La Vitarele (Mostly Grenache) - Ripe plum and liquorice fruit, earthy warm style with a touch of finesse and bite on the finish. 89

Coteaux du Languedoc

Grés de Montpellier
2002 L'Ecrit Vin, Domaine Faurmarie (50% Mourvèdre + Syrah Grenache) - Spicy and grippy offering attractive fruit and firm structure with elegant long finish.89
2003 les Mathilles, Domaine Faurmarie - Nice pure spicy fruit with liquorice and blackberry tones, balanced palate showing softness and grip together. 87-89
2001 Cuvée l'Espérance, Mas Domergue - The nose is a bit 'reductive'/sulphide, but it has nice spicy ripe liquorice palate with good concentration and soft finish.87
2001 Grande Cuvée, Domaine Ellul-Ferrières (Grenache Mourvèdre 14.5%) - Also displays slight sulphide aromas (complexity?) and tangy blackcurrants but has richer blackberry fruit as well, thicker texture than the Romarins with more grip yet rounder palate thanks to hints of vanilla from the oak; the quite high alcohol is well integrated. 87-89
2001 Les Romarins, Domaine Ellul-Ferrières (14.5%) - Touches of maturing game, spice and liquorice alongside tart blackcurrant fruit; ripeness v tangy freshness on the palate, grip v liquorice and chocolate, austere bite too lending length. 87

Pic Saint-Loup
2002 Cuvée Sainte Agnès, Ermitage du Pic St-Loup (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - More concentrated and firm-structured than their regular red, this has nice ripe black cherry fruit and well balanced finish. 87
2003 RoséErmitage du Pic St-Loup (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - Quite rich and serious, a touch volatile and oxidised but it works with this food-friendly rosé. 85

St-Georges d'Orques
2001 La Tour et Carascaude, Château de Fourques (Grenache Syrah) - Herbal blackcurrant fruit also showing a 'sweeter' side, firm yet ripe palate, quite complex and long. 89

Montpeyroux
1999 Les Marnes Bleues, Domaine Saint Andrieu (70% Mourvèdre) - Meaty maturity set against very firm palate, but there's plenty of ripe fruit and power as well. 88-90
2001 La Séranne, Domaine Saint Andrieu (30-40% Mourvèdre and Carignan) - Quite rustic and soupy, ripe and rich with touches of spicy herbs set against black fruits and liquorice, nice grip to finish. 87-89
2000 L'yeuse noire, Domaine Saint Andrieu (50% Mourvèdre) - aged in barriques: reductive/sulphide complexity on the nose, again very rustic but also very ripe liquorice fruit, soft dry tannins and herby finish. 89

Latest Saint Andrieu here.

Picpoul de Pinet
2003 la Font du Loup, Mas Saint Antoine (Picpoul) - More intense than their 'basic' P de P (this is made from later picked grapes sourced from an older parcel), lovely balance of zingy mineral bite and ripe oily fruit. 90
2003 Château de Pinet - Broader and fatter than their Dom. Peyrolle Picpoul, this is quite rich and smoky in fact but still retaining that essential crisp mineral edge. 85-87
2004 Château de Pinet - Displays spicy celeriac notes, very concentrated fruit v yeast-lees intensity, tight steely finish. 90
2004 Domaine Félines Jourdan - Classic style showing zesty extract and mineral bite on its very dry finish. 87-89

La Clape
2003 Les Chailles, Mas du Soleilla (Grenache Syrah) - Unfortunate name for a wine region! Very ripe - perhaps a little too, to the detriment of some balancing grip - soft black fruits and liquorice, attractive now. 85+

Terres de Sommières
2001 Les Myrthes, Mas Mouriès - Shows quite a bit of coconut and spice oak but has good depth of fruit and texture underneath. 89+

2004 Vin de Pays d'Oc blanc, Mas Mouriès (Grenache Blanc Ugni Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, tank sample) - Nice zesty mineral edges, crisp v concentrated style. 85+
Latest Mouries: follow link in the winery A to Z, right.

2003 Coteaux du Languedoc blanc, Mas Saint Antoine (Grenache Blanc Roussanne) - Nice with salmon. Starts with mineral crispness turning to oily texture, good steely v ripe style. 85-87
2004 Lucian blanc, Vignerons de Saint-Saturnin (Grenache Blanc Bourboulenc Marsanne 13%) - Offers attractive ripe white peach and citrus fruit tempered by floral crisp mineral finish. 85-87

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