"Order my book on the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback) DIRECT FROM ME SAVING £4/€4 (UK & EU only), or Kindle eBook on Amazon UK. Available in the USA from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook; or Amazon.com. For other countries, tap here." Richard Mark James
Showing posts with label La Clape. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La Clape. Show all posts

19 June 2012

Languedoc: Gérard Bertrand update, La Clape

These two tasty Gérard Bertrand 2010 reds, from his estate winery up in the wild-scented La Clape wine-lands a stone's throw from Narbonne Plage (if you have a strong arm at least), were tasting-noted and ticked by yours truly in the Languedoc a few weeks ago...
L'Hospitalitas (mostly Mourvèdre and Syrah I think) - enticing garrigue aromas, those elusive wacky sunburned wild herb characters, combined with dark cherry, cassis and liquorice; has a touch of toasty chocolate oak too adding 'sweeter' texture (rather than swamping it) to its firm and long finish. Promising, very good.
Art de Vivre (Syrah Mourvèdre Grenache) - similar profile, shows less depth of fruit perhaps and is less rounded, although it was a bit closed up; still has that lovely wild aromatic Clape thing going on though. Good+

Previous GB wines, profiles and comments:
gerard bertrand grand vin with more links to more pages (including reviews of older vintages of the first red here).
Latest news gleaned from www.vitisphere.com: he's now set up a US import company with distribution handled by Southern Wine & Spirits, Glazer’s, Young’s Market and M.S. Walker.

Other recent stuff on La Clape:

30 April 2012

Languedoc: Château Rouquette sur Mer, La Clape

Château Rouquette sur mer (it is that close to the sea) is owned and run by Jacques Boscary, his wife Dominique and sons François and Arnaud; and has now fairly effortlessly earned a place among my favourite wine estates in/on the happening Languedoc subzone of La Clape (click on the red highlighted link at the bottom of this post for more info/views and recommended wines/wineries, or cruise the 'A to Z' on the right). The Boscary's breathtakingly untamed wine-lands come to about 50 hectares (120 acres) of vines (plus a lot more of trees, bushes, shrubs, wild flowers etc.) lying in a rather lovely spot near Narbonne-Plage. They also have five holiday gites on the property apparently - see website for more details: chateaurouquette.com. I tasted and enjoyed two vintages of one of their top reds in the Languedoc recently, during their annual "Millésimes" week of tastings and other winey/foodie/touristy activities - more reports and "profiles" from that to follow...

2007 Le Clos de la Tour (old vine Mourvèdre and Syrah, 14% alc.) - delicious ripe smoky 'garrigue' liquorice and black plums, 'sweet' perfumed and peppery; complex wild flavours, lush and concentrated with dry vs ripe tannins, powerful and long yet drinking nicely now. Good stuff indeed.

2010 Le Clos de la Tour - showing quite a bit of oak (not surprisingly given its youthful age and 18 months new barrel ageing), but has plenty of that characteristic perfumed 'sweet' dark fruit; structured vs rich mouth-feel with tasty ripe liquorice flavours vs peppery and black olive notes even, nice coating of rounded tannins on the finish. Lovely wine, very promising.

18 January 2012

Languedoc: Château de la Negly, La Clape

Negly, with a sizeable 50 ha (125 acres) of vines surrounding its handsome yet workmanlike chateau, is owned by Jean-Paul Rosset, whose talented winemaker is Cyril Chamontin working with uber-consultant Claude Gros. Jean-Paul’s father used to grow grapes for the local co-op but he upped the quality stakes massively in vineyard and cellar from the mid 90s, and this is now one of the best estates on La Clape, out of quite a few very good ones it has to be said, if not the Languedoc (he types pushing the proverbial boat out). Their tasty reds age well too, as you'll see from my glowing notes on the 1998 'Falaise' below... I love what they cram into a glass, typical of that quintessential 'Clape' style showing concentrated warm ripe fruit with deliciously natural wilder edges (garrigue if you like, it's what the French call it) and heady Med 'sweet/savoury' mix. The first two were sampled and 'assessed' at a tasting in London a few months ago:

2008 La Falaise (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan) - aromatic herby black cherry and liquorice notes, peppery and rich mouthful with powerful structured palate; lovely mix of concentrated fruit and firm chunky tannins, tight long finish too. Excellent. £17-£20 Thorman Hunt & Co, Bancroft Wines (London).
2007 La Porte du Ciel (15%) - dense dark colour, savoury maturing leather tones vs coconut oak vs very concentrated lush dark fruit, solid yet nicely textured tannins with very long powerful but balanced finish, still very much alive. Yum. €75 although apparently they only make a couple of hundred cases or so! Alexander Krossa Wines (based in the Languedoc selling mostly to Germany and a few other markets now as well e.g. the UK: profile on him with lots more wines to follow. I copied the photo off his site, by the way...)
1998 La Falaise – wow! That wild Clape nose comes through loud and clear, like burnt lavender plus lovely smoky mature fruit, delicious wine you just want to have more of... (tasted March 2011).

James Nicholson (Northern Ireland) also stocks a wide range of Negly wines including older vintages.

23 April 2011

Languedoc: La Clape

I've already done that 'joke' to death, so moving on quickly to the next in my continuing series of reports and winery profiles drawn from five intensive days spent at the “Languedoc Millésimes” tastings in the region (21-25 March 2011), where I had the chance to taste mostly 2010, 2009 and 2008 vintages. As well as, more importantly perhaps and certainly more fun, meet and talk to a couple of La Clape winemakers and enjoy some of their older wines too. Once again this year, I found the whites from this wild-terrain almost-island appellation, found near Narbonne falling into the sea, had real character and class. Maybe it’s the often high proportion of the Bourboulenc variety, in particular, and white Grenache or Roussanne, say, in many of these wines? Apart from the well-suited maritime climate etc; so well done anyway, La Clape winemakers, for being brave enough to decide to give it a focus in the appellation 'rules' even though nobody's heard of it (that's clever marketing for you too). Mind you, some of them are rather expensive though even if very good.

What I don't get, with all the admittedly still on-going changes to the essentially overly complicated Languedoc appellation 'hierarchy', is why La Clape isn't called a "Grand Vin du Languedoc" (like the vast sprawling and much more variable Corbieres, for e.g.), if this actually means something, or why La Clape white wines aren't now classified under "Grand Cru du Languedoc" like their reds appear to be (are they?)? Certainly can't be on quality grounds or lacking distinctiveness. Oh well... As for those "great growth" reds, well, some of them are and do have a distinctive roasted "garrigue", and sometimes "tar" even, side (sun-dried wild herbs, earthy vs sweet thing going on underneath) to their soft ripe fruit; although others are just swamped in heavy new oak and over-extracted tannins, like they can be anywhere else, especially on the 2008s, which was obviously a vintage to go easy on the winemaking front. I could only find one 2010 red up for tasting so can't comment on potential of that vintage, although this one (Château des Monges) was very good. And if the also solitary old-vintage 1998 Château de Negly is anything to go by, then, yes, some of the best producers' wines really can age sublimely.
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.


2009 Château d'Anglès "Classique" (50% Bourboulenc, 40% Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne) - slightly closed on the nose, moves on to quite rich and honeyed mouth-feel with light butter and toast notes; some oily development then a touch of toasty wood on the finish, although it falls a bit flat perhaps. 1 €8.90
2009 Mas du Soleilla "Réserve" (55% Roussanne, 45% Bourboulenc; estate converting over to organic) - toasty oak and hazelnut nose, quite rich like the palate too; creamy and nutty with toasty edges, much fuller and more concentrated though, then finishing with light bitter twist vs power and some underlying lemony bite. 2 €21
2009 Château Moyau "L'Unique" (50% Bourboulenc, 50% Grenache blanc) - more floral and lees-y vs subtle buttery hazelnut undertones, starts off a bit shy and finishes quite tight still, interesting ‘mineral’ intensity and bite vs fat. 2 €16
2009 Château Capitoul "Rocaille" - complex maturing Riesling-like notes with oily, toasty and buttery touches vs greener undertones; subtle fresh acidity vs fat mouth-feel and quite toasty vs powerful finish. 2
2010 Château Abbaye des Monges (80% Bourboulenc, 15% Roussanne, 5% Rolle) - yeasty and floral, quite zingy and ‘mineral’ vs fairly concentrated and ‘chalky’ undercurrent, tight and fresh finish. Lacks a bit of weight perhaps but quite promising. 1 €6.40
2010 Château Rouquette sur Mer "Arpège" (60% Bourboulenc, 40% Roussanne) – again has youthful gummy and lees-y style, floral and melon then more honeyed, tight and crisp length. 1-2 €8.40
2010 Château de Marmorières "Les Amandiers" (40% white Grenache, 20% Bourboulenc, 30% Roussanne, 10% Viognier) - chalky and crisp vs light oily texture, tight and not showing much. Not sure. Would like to try again. 1 €8
2010 Château l'Hospitalet "Art de Vivre" - toasty vs oily nose, quite concentrated and honeyed with buttery undertones, still quite toasty but plenty underneath, fresh undercurrent keeps it focused. 2-3


2008 Château de Marmorières "Les Amandiers" (50/50 Syrah, Grenache; 14% alc.) - delicious perfumed heather and lavender nose with ripe strawberry and cassis, quite mature and attractive palate with fresh bite vs light grip and lots of that sweet berry fruit and wild herbs vs weight. Subtle length too. 2 €8
2008 Domaine Maury "L'Insoupconné" (80/20 Syrah, Grenache; 14.5% alc.) - similar but riper and toastier, oak rather dominates with extracted tannins. €14.50
2008 Château Abbaye des Monges "Réserve" (30% each Syrah/Grenache/Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre) - smoky/rustic development plus perfumed garrigue, again tannins a bit dry on the finish vs needs bit more weight. €9.20
2008 Château Ricardelle "Closablieres" (Grenache/Syrah/Carignan) - less obvious nose with vanilla oak notes, some of that wild herb thing going on and maturing oily texture, again tannins perhaps a bit heavy vs the rest but quite commanding. 1 €11
2008 Château Ricardelle "Blason" - too oaky and firm. €15
2008 Mas du Soleilla "Les Bartelles" - quite rich and jammy, dark cherry and perfumed herby tones, bit of vanilla oak but adds texture rather than flavour, grippy with fair depth. 1
2008 Mas du Soleilla "L'Intrus" (50% Carignan, 25/25 Grenache/Syrah; converting over to organics) - sweeter fruit, vibrant tasty palate with nice tannins, light choco texture but much better balance than above, weight vs concentration. 2 €18
2008 Château Rouquette sur Mer "Henry Lapierre" (Syrah/Mourvèdre) - herbs and tar, developing 'sweet & savoury' style, touch of vanilla on the palate adds flavour and texture, perhaps a bit too much vs the rest, although there's some depth. 1 €19
2009 Château Abbaye des Monges "Augustine" (40% Syrah/30% Grenache/20%Carignan/10% Mourvèdre) - rich ripe fruit, dark with herby undertones, pretty firm and extracted vs some lush fruit underneath, tight and closed. 1 €7.20
2009 Château de Marmorières "Marquis de Raymond" (40% Syrah/30% Grenache/10%Carignan/20% Mourvèdre) - pretty oaky and firm, lacks charm; maybe it's in a rut. €11
2009 Château l'Hospitalet "Art de Vivre" - wild herbs and rich cassis, tangy vs concentrated fruit, bit of underlying oak adding texture vs grip vs sweet perfumed fruit. Needs a couple of years too. 2
2009 Château Rouquette sur Mer "L'Absolu" (Syrah/Mourvèdre) - toasty oak vs dark perfumed fruit, oak a bit intrusive still but quite well structured vs depth of fruit underneath. 1 €68! A typo?
2010 Château des Monges "Les Pins" - nice scented vs dark cherry and tar, structured and big vs concentrated lush fruit + subtle oak, floral herby too on finish. 2

Older vintages (well, two at least...)
1998 Château de Negly "La Falaise" – wow! That wild Clape nose comes through loud and clear, like burnt lavender plus lovely smoky mature fruit, delicious wine. 3
2007 Domaine Mont Redon "Les Eperviers" - wild herby & earthy notes vs ripe cherry and liquorice, firm vs maturing mouth-feel. 1

Lots more Clape wineries and wines here:

Gérard Bertrand update

12 January 2010

Languedoc: Château Camplazens, La Clape

Susan and Peter Close's award-winning estate lies at the top end of La Clape (more on that under Pech-Redon) about as far as the "road" goes before you reach an air force base. You can get there via the little village of Armissan or follow signs for Hospitalet then "base aérienne." Either way, the road does a long winding loop and it's a nice peaceful drive. Susan and Peter, originally from northeast England although they then lived in the States for 20 years, bought Camplazens in 2000 after looking extensively around the wine world for that perfect spot. They invested a fair sum in rebuilding the winery and replanting part of the vineyards including Syrah, Viognier and Marselan, a very promising crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache; as well as recently adding olive trees and new machinery to bring an old well back to life and be self-sufficient in water. Yann Claustre is their winemaker and estate manager, who's worked for the Closes since the beginning.

I tasted these wines with them at the property in January 2010:
2007 Viognier vin de pays d'Oc (13.5%) - exotic and fat vs juicy fruit, attractive ripe oily texture with light toast/spice tones; soft rounded and creamy then a more floral and greener finish. Nice style. 87
2007 Marselan vin de pays d'Oc (13%) - smoky liquorice vs herbal cassis aromas; similar flavours showing lush vs crunchy fruit, wild and spicy too with attractive rounded tannins; liquorice vs fresh bite, very tasty sweet vs savoury aftertaste. 87-89
2008 Syrah vin de pays d'Oc (13%) - appealing peppery black cherry fruit, soft and ripe yet floral and pure; good depth of fruit vs light tannins, a bit of bite and weight too. 87+
2007 La Garrigue La Clape (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan 12.5%) - lovely scented wild herbs and spicy berry fruit; quite lush vs touch of grip, fairly elegant style and subtle length with lingering fruit vs spice. 89+?
2007 Sélection Schwander La Clape (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan 13%) - he's their Swiss importer by the way, the wine is their "Reserve" level I think. Similar profile although more intense, spicier, wilder and richer; lusher vs crunchy fruit, delicious style and depth, again shows balanced length with subtle power. 90+

11110 Armissan. Tel: 04 68 45 38 89, www.camplazens.com.


'Red is for wine, blood, revolution, colour... Time-warped slices of mystery, history, fantasy, crime, art, cinema and love...' Buy the e-book or paperback novel on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Click here to view the RED blog!

Send an email


Email *

Message *

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