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Showing posts with label Limoux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Limoux. Show all posts

13 December 2023

Languedoc: Limoux.

Château de Flandry, Limoux.

Perhaps not that famous outside of France (although many of the wines recommended here are well distributed in Europe and North America), the Limoux region stretches mostly to the south, west and north of the visit-worthy town of Limoux in southwestern Languedoc, about half an hour south of Carcassonne. The vineyards are often planted on hillsides enhancing the slightly cooler climate this area enjoys, which is home to some classy sparkling wines, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir among others.

14 April 2016

Languedoc: Domaines Paul Mas, organic frog


You can't knock Domaines Paul Mas' boss Jean-Claude Mas for coming up with something new every year (at least) to taste and write about. His Arrogant Frog range appears to be doing well in export markets with a sense of humour - and the wines are mostly good too - which has now been boosted by a couple of organic labels too. Mas says this is part of an overall strategy, perhaps since buying the 30-hectare Mas des Tannes organic vineyard in Montagnac in the central Languedoc, across the road from their head office, winery and showcase restaurant/wine shop, which "has always been managed without any synthetic chemical products," the press blurb claims. Inspired by the 2015 vintage and "the outstanding quality of the fruit we picked... This year, we have been experimenting with low SO2 fermentation techniques and the results are convincing: the cuvées without sulphur taste far better than those to which sulphur has been used throughout the fermentation and they continue to develop in intensity,” Jean-Claude exuded.
So, I recently sampled five Mas wines positioned in this increasingly fashionable camp - whether they're worth the extra money for being organic or without added sulphites is another argument I suppose, one which will be decided by his regular wine punters. But this progressive winery is obviously trying to 'do the right thing' in terms of the environment and health. These were my favourites then...

Arrogant Frog Organic Chardonnay 2014 - 100% Chardonnay sourced from Limoux in the western Languedoc (vineyards farmed organically for 10 years), 20% of it fermented and aged for 3 months in American oak barrels, 13.5% abv. Tasty Chardy style, well made with subtle oak and yeast-lees notes complementing juicy vs sunny peachy fruit. £9.75 Vintage Roots.
Arrogant Frog Organic Ribet Rouge 'Rural' 2014 - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon / 45% Merlot, 25% of the blend aged for 3 months in new oak, 13.5% abv. Nice enough soft red, a bit too easy for the money though just because it's organic. £9.75 Vintage Roots.
Cuvée Secrète 2014 Merlot / Cabernet Franc - organic with no added sulphites, no oak, 14% abv. Quite serious red, chunky and concentrated with savoury/meaty edges, firm and spicy palate with cooked damson vs soy sauce flavours. Good stuff. £9.75 Vintage Roots.
Mas des Tannes Réserve Rouge 2014 - organic 55% Cabernet Sauvignon / 35% Grenache / 10% Mourvèdre, 6 months in French and American oak, 14% abv. Probably the best of these reds, richer spice and sweet berry fruit combo, structured yet rounded mouth-feel with good depth. Should improve over the next year or so. £12.95 Soho Wine Supply.

More about Jean-Claude Mas and his wines on this blog:

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.

27 November 2013

Languedoc: Jean-Louis Denois, Roquetaillade

I posted comments and info back in April about Jean-Louis Denois' "no added sulphite" wines from his northern Roussillon vineyards HERE, including a little background on the man, how these wines came about and what attracted him to the St-Paul and Caudiès de Fenouillet area. I've since added a few new notes to that profile too on other wines sourced from these Agly valley plots, such as two vintages of his smart Saint Louis Syrah. This time, the spotlight focuses in on some of the sparkling, white and red wines that have helped build his south-of-France reputation, which come from his elevated 'Upper Aude valley' vineyards in the lost villages of Roquetaillade (called la Borde-Longue) and Magrie (la Métairie d’Alon) lying within the Limoux appellation (he doesn't label all of them as that though for various reasons). This is where Jean-Louis' Languedoc 'adventure' began, as the story goes...
Born into a long-established Champagne family, Jean Louis studied winemaking and business, then went to work for Boschendal in South Africa making 'Cap Classique' fizz. He also travelled around Australia, New Zealand and the US to take in what else was going on in the wider wine world. When he returned to France, he created a sparkling wine brand sourced from just outside the Champagne area that was big in the USA apparently. He bought his first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in Limoux country in the late 1980s, followed by planting Champagne clones of Pinot in the early 90s to make fine sparkling wines. This expanding estate was to become the now relatively famous Domaine de l'Aigle, which was sold to Antonin Rodet and now belongs to the Gérard Bertrand group. This cooler spot, with some vineyards lying at over 300 metres above sea level, was also considered a good place for making later ripening finer styles of Cabernet (both) and Merlot; and are part of a total of "57 parcels," as Jean Louis describes his patchwork estate, including the aforementioned Roussillon sites. More @ www.jldenois.com.

Domaine de la Borde-Longue (Roquetaillade) – 'Haute Vallée de l'Aude'
2011 La Bourdette Cabernet Franc (13.5%) - nice 'sweet/savoury' fruit, berries with 'soy sauce' tones; dry and firm vs rounded too with a touch more obvious oak than the Syrah say. 2nd day – that oak has blended into the wine better, ripe rounded texture vs structured and 'fresh' tannins, well balanced and quite elegant with a little weight and light coconut grain. Also needs a bit longer to open up.
2010 La Bourdette Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5%) - enticing dark cassis and cherry with earthy liquorice notes vs maturing savoury vs coco oak edges, lovely concentrated fruit with light coco vs dark choc texture, sweet vs savoury too with a fair kick and dry vs supple tannins. Long balanced and quite elegant / classy despite that alcohol, tightens up with a touch of freshness, light dry bite and lingering dark liquorice vs savoury fruit. Lovely wine, drinking well now although should improve a little more. €12
2008 Reserve Merlot - a bit oaky to start (surprising after 5 years) although has nice smooth tannins, quite rich plum and chocolate flavours, dry vs rounded profile; was even okay with a Chinese pork dish. Turns more savoury after being open, showing liquorice and a wilder earthy fruit side, nice tannin texture and depth of fruit vs chocolate oak edges; more 'volatile' and oxidised after two days open (not surprisingly).

2006 Pinot Noir brut Vin Mousseux de Qualité élaboré en Méthode Traditionnelle' (12%). Intricate toasted nut and Fino notes on the nose, baked oats straw and honey vs floral red fruity mix, chocolate and bread tones too; rich toasty nutty and yeasty flavours, concentrated with fine tight acid structure still, fresh and dry vs all those lingering complex aged flavours, delicious and classy. Maturing vs still young, will keep longer yet it's lovely now; tastes like Vintage Bolly.
JLD Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut (50-50, aged 2+ years on the lees, 'disgorged' Oct. 2012, 12.5% abv) - lovely elegant mousse and yeasty biscuit nose, rich vs elegant mouth-feel, tasty oat biscuit and toasty nutty flavours vs subtle crisp dry finish with mouthwatering bite. Yum, very elegant and drinkable. €11
Chardonnay Extra Brut - very fizzy, less toasty and dry maybe than the Pinot Chardy, fruitier and more honeyed with delicate biscuit honeysuckle and nutty tones; nice fruit with light yeast notes, quite crisp and delicate with a bit of roundness and 'sweet/savoury' oat flavours. €10

2009 Grande Cuvée Limoux rouge (65% Merlot + both Cabernets & Malbec, 14% abv) - chocolate and coconut tones vs maturing savoury fruit, prune liquorice and leather vs sweet berry and cassis. Quite lush with ripe dark fruit vs cedar notes, concentrated and powerful yet showing fairly fine balance, rounded chocolate texture vs dry bitter twist and a hint of freshness, ripe and maturing vs still lively and structured. Drinking well now - good with venison steak - but will keep too as it's quite big and firm still vs 'sweet' and rounded. 2nd day - a touch more rustic and savoury/meaty, oak is more integrated with nice ripe dark berry fruit, full-on yet rounded, good bite yet developing. €10
2010 Grande Cuvée Limoux blanc (Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, 12.8% abv) - quite oaky vs nice nutty and aniseed notes, rounded vs fresh with medium body, oily honeyed side vs crisper white peach and citrus vs nutty toasty oaty flavours. A few hours open: gets oilier and nuttier with appley crispness still vs ripe and rounded. €10
2010 Sainte Marie Limoux (single site Chardonnay, 400m altitude) - toastier and richer than the Grande Cuvée, coconut honey and oatmeal with light grainy texture vs nutty and rounded, quite concentrated with a little bite and exotic ripe fruit (pineapple, peach) vs dusty coconut oak and fairly big mouthful. Quite coconut oaky but has rich honeyed fruit and lees-y buttery depth with nutty development. €15

2012 Les Oliviers white Sud de France (blend of mostly Chardonnay plus a little Muscat from the Fenouillèdes and some Chenin from Roquetaillade; 11.8%, organic) - nice aromatic nose, floral and grapey vs peach and citrus, dry crisp and elegant palate with attractive simple tasty fruit and zesty 'chalky' finish. €7
More of his wines from the northern Roussillon HERE.

12 November 2013

Champagne & Sparkling wine tasting Dec 3 Belfast

WineWriting.com Richard Mark James' wine blog: Champagne & Sparkling wine tasting Dec 3 Belfast: "Don't miss the bubbling-with-excitement Wine Education Service NI Champagne & Sparkling wine tutored tasting..." CLICK ABOVE to view details on my other blog. Will probably include a fine sparkling Limoux...

14 January 2013

Languedoc: Château de Gaure part 2

The second installment of my profile on Pierre Fabre and his dual location vineyards and wines takes us to Château de Gaure itself in the Languedoc, resting peacefully and slightly loftily between Limoux and Carcassonne, which Pierre snapped up in 2004. As I said in my report on his exciting Roussillon reds (posted below), all their vineyards are now farmed organically with minimal intervention on the winemaking front I'm told. The Limoux vine-scape in Rouffiac d'Aude is planted with mostly Chardonnay plus Chenin blanc and local variety Mauzac, traditionally used for sparkling wines but increasingly being fashioned into the occasional interesting barrel-fermented dry white by certain producers (Rives-Blanques is another). Apparently Pierre and his team have been uprooting any red varieties in this relatively cooler spot, because "they couldn't give us the kind of wines we're looking for." Château de Gaure, the building (pic. below), has also been refitted for holiday accommodation: more info www.chateaudegaure.com.

2010 Campagne (Chardonnay, Chenin blanc) - quite toasty and buttery vs crisp and steely underbelly, attractive citrus vs richer more exotic fruit; nice balance and style in the end. Good to very good.
2010 Oppidum (Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Mauzac) - richer and more buttery than above but not too toasty-oaky, lovely underlying freshness and long finish. Very good.
2010 Mauzac - quite toasted to start yet aromatic and honeyed with nutty tones too, again has attractive fresh bite on the finish. Good+

30 May 2012

Languedoc: Limoux sparkling wines

It wouldn't be the first time I've knocked together a few enthusiastic words about Limoux fizz on this blog and what great value for money these wines often are. This increasingly dynamic region, and relatively cool-climate for the Languedoc - lying mostly on rolling hilly land stretching out to the south of Carcassonne around the eponymous market town - boasts hundreds of years of history of making quality sparkling wines. Not that I usually give a damn about how long somebody's been doing something per se - if what they're doing is good anyway - but a little 'tradition' probably helps in this case.
The first two Limoux styles featured below are essentially created in the same way using the so-called traditional method (same as Champagne with a second fermentation in bottle), although different grape varieties, or proportions of, make up the base blends for each style; and the 'rules' on ageing differ slightly too. Crémant is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (especially for rosé), Chenin blanc and/or Mauzac with at least 12 months bottle-ageing on its yeast-lees sediment. Blanquette is built mostly, or sometimes entirely, from Mauzac supplemented by Chenin and/or Chardonnay. There is another 'older' style called Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale, which is 100% Mauzac and the result of a bottle-fermentation that stops leaving some residual sugar and lower alcohol of 6-7%. I tried these tempting bottles on a tasting trip to the Languedoc last month.

Crémant de Limoux


2008 Château Rives Blanques Blanc de Blancs - delicately toasty and honeyed with almond and yeasty edges, crisp and stylish with attractive nutty and bready flavours, long refreshing finish. Very good.
2008 Taudou - less expressive nose, quite yeasty vs honeyed although crisp and steely too; a touch too much of that toasted yeast character although it has substance and is still nice!
2008 Alain Cavailles/Le Moulin d'Alon 'Résilience' - subtle nutty bready flavours with 'straw' and honey undertones, crisp mineral bite vs 'sweeter' toasty creamy side, good length and style.
2008 Domaine Delmas Cuvée Audace - richer nose with more 'fino'/nutty character too, lovely crisp steely bite vs yeasty and toasty. Very good.
2009 Georges et Roger Antech Cuvée Héritage - fairly fine with elegant nutty yeasty intensity, a tad closed up although has intricate flavours and crisp length.
2010 Domaine J Laurens Clos des Demoiselles - 'winier' and fuller with toasted oat notes, crisp and fresh finish. Lovely.
2006 Domaine de Martinolles - toasty complex nose, enticing rich developed character showing oaty nutty flavours vs steely and fine mouth-feel. Tasty stuff.
2007 Toques et Clochers Sieur d'Arques - delicious sparkling wine offering toasty complex full-bodied flavours vs tight fine and crisp on its long finish. Who needs expensive Champagne? This limited edition fizz is €15 cellar door, making it one of Limoux's dearest although among the best too.


2009 Antech Cuvée Emotion - elegant red fruits and rose petal vs bready and nutty, tight and crisp finish. Good stuff.
2009 Alain Cavailles/Le Moulin d'Alon 'Micromégas' - rich and 'winey', not very pink but who cares; honeyed and fairly toasty cakey vs fresher finish and bite. More good stuff.
Domaine de Martinolles - delicate vs oily red fruits with nutty yeasty and crisp palate, again lovely fine steely finish vs gently toasty character. These guys know what they're doing.
Profile on Martinolles with older vintages HERE.
Domaine J Laurens La Rose No. 7 - sounds like a lipstick maybe, but this quite delicate tight and steely fizz also has subtle rose water and red fruit tones; mouth-watering refreshing style with nice lingering flavours. Very good.
Sieur d'Arques Première Bulle rosé - delightfully refreshing light and delicate pink fizz. Quite expensive though at €12.

Blanquette de Limoux

2009 Joseph Salasar Carte Blanche - toasty earthy winey with attractive honeyed straw character, richer yeasty palate vs crisp bite and length. Very good.
2009 Château Rives Blanques - aromatic grapey winey nose, rounded vs steely palate, nicely crisp and long; a bit different too.
2009 Alain Cavailles Etincelle Originelle - earthy vs appley nose, yeasty and lightly toasty flavours, crisp vs honeyed, quite intense and refined.
2009 Alain Cavailles Résilience - similar style, finer and nuttier perhaps, again crisp refreshing vs honeyed mouth-feel, elegant length.
2009 Domaine Robert Carte Noire - floral and almond aromas, light crisp and refreshing palate vs yeastier biscuit flavours, long and fresh. Good stuff.
2010 Nicolas Therez Instant d'Arome Peche - fruitier and grappier vs apple and pear notes, crisp and steely with light refreshing finish.
2010 Sieur d'Arques Première Bulle - clean crisp and appley with yeasty undertones, quite delicate and tart, nice palate cleanser with crisp length. Good. €10
2010 Robert Carte Ivoire - juicy honeyed hints vs appley and crisp backdrop, nice lightly toasty yeasty richness vs dry and steely, fresh and long. Fair class.
Profile on Robert / Domaine de Fourn with older vintages HERE.
2010 Taudou - more honeyed and fuller style, oat cakey flavours vs appley crisp and clean bite, delicious fizz actually.
Domaine Delmas Tradition NV - subtle honeyed grapey tones vs appley bite, attractive yeasty depth and oat biscuit flavours, crisp long vs richer finish. More good stuff.
Antech Brut Nature - appley and lightly yeasty, intense crisp and dry vs rounder honeyed biscuity side, long and refreshing; needs food as it's pretty dry on its own. Very good though if you like 'nature' styles (no added dosage = sweetening).

Blanquette Ancestrale

Sieur d'Arques Coeur de Bulle (6% alc., 80 g/l residual sugar) - refreshing and light although quite sweet: best with a fruit dessert actually. €7.60
Antech Ancestrale - grapey and earthy, sweet vs crisper side, pleasant Moscato d'Asti alternative.

Lots more Limoux fizz here (report from last year's 'Millésimes en Languedoc' April 2011). See also Limoux winery profiles in the Languedoc A to Z on the right...

14 November 2011

Languedoc: Domaines Paul Mas

2014 update

This belated catching-up sees a couple of striking new poking-fun labels (there's a picture here), 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, a 70 hectare property (170 acres) near the pretty village of Aigues-Vives in the Aude region 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 - 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 below along with a selection of other new vintages from across their now extensive portfolio...

2011 Domaine Martinolles Limoux blanc – nice lees-y toasty notes tinged with aniseed, light toasted coconut vs ripe 'sweet' Chardonnay fruit, good bite vs rich and toasty finish.
2012 Château Paul Mas 'Belleguette' Coteaux du Languedoc blanc (Vermentino, Marsanne) – aromatic aniseed with subtle yeast biscuit flavours vs floral and mineral, concentrated with tasty oat finish vs tight and crisp with light bitter twist. £15/£12 (case) Cheers Wine Merchants (UK).
2012 Mas des Tannes Réserve blanc (organic Grenache blanc, 13.5% abv) - subtle mix of floral aniseed, juicy exotic fruit and light coconut grain; has a little bit of richness and roundness on the palate although is quite tight and grainy, not a blockbuster style white but attractive enough with food. Noel Young Wines, Soho Wines £10.95.
Striking French! Sud de France Viognier, Pays d'Oc (13% abv) - light peach and apricot notes with hints of toast and coconut, a little weight on the palate vs tighter fresher side; nice white although not as good/full-on as some of their other Viogniers. A bit dear at £9.99 UK RRP.
2011 Mas des Tannes Réserve rouge (Cabernet, Grenache, Mourvèdre) – complex and quirky mix of 'inky' black olive vs very ripe 'tar' and liquorice vs herbier cassis notes, taut fresh and firm mouth-feel vs sweet and smoky side. Odd but nice.
2011 Mas des Tannes Peyre Plantade (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan) – sweet fruit and floral aromas with lovely ripe rounded texture, subtle bite and length; delicious red.
Striking French! Sud de France Merlot, Pays d'Oc (13.5% abv) - a little heavy on the vanilla oak for my taste, although it has nice plump fruit and rounded mouth-feel. The oak blends in a little better if left open for a day. Same comment as the Viognier above about price, available at Majestic in the UK.
2011 Mas des Mas Corbières (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) – a tad baked on the nose, attractive wild herb and violet aromas though with 'sweet' Grenache fruit, bite and grip tightening up the palate but it's tasty now too.
2011 Château des Crès Ricards 'Stécia' Terrasses du Larzac (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Grenache) - wild smoky vs herb/flower notes and dark fruit with savoury hints, intense smoky dark fruit flavours with firm structured tannins vs rounded mouth-feel and ripe fruit finish, lovely mix of smoky vs fresh and tight too. £12.99 Cheers.
2011 Château des Crès Ricards 'Oenotheca' (Grenache, Syrah) - richer with sweet and smoky notes vs herby berry fruit, softer yet fuller with enticing lush mouth-feel vs subtle grip.
Côté Mas Picpoul Frisant - juicy yeasty notes vs sweeter ripe melon fruit edges, has a bit of crispness vs a touch of residual sugar. Nice and easy frothy wine.
2011 Les Faïsses (60% Grenache, 40% Syrah) - alluring ripe vs spicy liquorice fruit with firm and tasty palate, fairly easy-going compared to previous vintages but I like that Grenache dominant style.
2011 Grés de Montpellier (half Mourvèdre plus Syrah and Grenache) - a touch more structured vs attractive sweet fruit, lacks a bit of concentration and depth perhaps as I remember it from previous vintages...

November 2011: the latest from the expansionist and thick cheque-booked Jean-Claude Mas camp is the purchase of vineyards in wild and woolly Terrasses du Larzac country (source vitisphere.com), called Crès Ricards (goes to my May 2012 report on Larzac including notes on some of these nice reds) and Domaine de Moulinas in Caux not far from Pézenas. He's also taking over running Domaine de Martinolles (links to profile and previous vintages reviewed) who's a fairly sizeable yet traditional Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux winemaker, which should complement Mas' already growing production of white and red wines in this area from their Domaine Astruc estate. This brings DPM to over 300 ha of owned vine-land across the Languedoc, plus those managed properties and partner-growers who supply grapes. Some people (usually certain small-minded French growers who think all big is bad) diss the Paul Mas operation as a simple churner-outer of lots of "unserious" varietals, largely because of their fun export brand Arrogant Frog I'd guess, which appear to be in-demand and are consistently good. But they've probably never tried their more serious single-vineyard or sub-appellation reds or Limoux whites, for example.

In addition, Domaine de Nicole estate winery, where the company's head office is located near Montagnac, has been expanded into a "wine tourism site" with a restaurant opening in spring 2012 (Ed: the following year actually, see above). I've tasting-noted some of their latest vintages below sampled over the last few months; and there's a fuller profile and lots more wines going back to 2004 underneath these. Their UK importer is Stratford’s Wine Agencies and they're well distributed in the States too (see website).

2010 Vermentino - floral peachy nose, spicy juicy palate with crisp 'gummy' mouth-feel, attractive lively dry white. £7.99 at Majestic allegedly although I couldn't find it on their site.
2010 Chardonnay - benchmark sunny south of France Chardy with juicy citrus and peachy fruit with milky yeast-less edges, quite weighty yet crisp finish. Fairly widely available under different labels.
2010 Sauvignon blanc - nice classic gooseberry vs ripe citrus SB style with soft-ish yet zingy finish. Different versions of this are sold in various retailers e.g. Majestic, Waitrose.
2010 Viognier - delicious V style with lighter zesty touches vs fatter exotic fruit, crisp intense vs rounded and towards weighty/oily mouth-feel. Sainsbury's do an Elegant Frog version and Asda has an own label on offer at the moment for under a Fiver.
2010 Marsanne - floral apricot aromas / flavours, zesty palate vs lightly creamy edges, has a bit of oomph too followed by tight zingy length. Asda and Majestic do different labels of this.
2010 Rosé de Syrah - strawberry and raspberry boiled sweet notes, lively and quite long with a attractive bitter twist, nice round vs zingy style.
2010 Grenache noir - seductive simple fruity style, touch of dry grip on the palate vs lively berry and spice combo.
2008 Mas des Mas Saint-Chinian red - lovely wild herby and floral liquorice nose, spicy white pepper tones vs sweet fruit, quite elegant and drinking well now.
2010 La Forge Merlot - herbal 'inky' tinges vs lots of juicy plummy fruit, a little closed up and firm when I tried it but shows the usual Forge concentration and Merlot style.
2010 La Forge Carignan old vines - 'reductive' nose and tight palate, has attractive fresh blueberry fruit though with intriguing tangy vs ripe profile; quite structured acid/tannin mouth-feel combo, needs a few months to open up but promising probably and different for sure. Majestic lists a version of this at £8.99.
2009 La Forge Malbec - complex spicy nose, aromatic vs richer side with grainy vs sweet texture; quirky Malbec style and tasty with it. Majestic lists a version of the 2010 vintage at £8.99.
2009 DPM Vignes de Nicole Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah - touches of dusty oak or something ? (can't remember if this bottle was screwcapped or with a cork) but layered with cassis and dark cherry fruit, nice texture and depth with again tight finish.
2009 Château Paul Mas "Clos des Mûres" Coteaux du Languedoc (85% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre) - quite chocolate oaky when I tried it with taut firm grainy texture, closing up on a big structured finish; but it's pretty concentrated and stylish too suggesting something much more promising and exiting once it opens up and softens. £12.50

You'll find even more Mas wines buried in here (Languedoc vintage reports 2009 and 2008) and within a few mini-reports before and after this post on Limoux (based around 2010 vintage tastings). In addition, I've copied across all this stuff previously published on various pages of WineWriting.com:

Domaine de Nicole, one of four Mas family properties in the Pézenas area and now their HQ, has been refitted to house a tasteful tasting/reception area and shop with an enlarged "wine tourism site," including a restaurant, due to open in late 2008 (oops, see update above - planning permission delays etc...). If they get the planning permission through soon, that is (a somewhat French case of bureaucracy over progress it seems). A "Languedoc modernist," as their PR accurately calls him, with irreverent labels like Arrogant Frog (the wine’s good too) and lively varietal Vins de Pays such as La Forge Merlot, Chardonnay or Viognier; Jean-Claude Mas and brother Michel also produce serious, more 'traditional' Coteaux du Languedoc reds such as Château Paul Mas (see vertical tasting of five vintages below) and Les Faïsses. In addition, they've now launched wines from a recently converted organic vineyard plus three new 'single terroir' reds called Mas des Mas from the 2006 vintage (also below), which show great promise and knock on the head any thoughts that they're all marketing (although they're pretty good at that too). Oh by the way, guess which country is one of their main export markets? Australia! (2008)

These wines were sampled at Vinisud in Montpellier, February 2008:
2006 Château Paul Mas (all five are mostly Syrah plus Grenache Mourvèdre) - showing spicy coco oak layered with lovely black cherry fruit and peppery tones, attractive textured tannins balanced by depth of fruit, well-handled oak and power on the finish. About £10 in the UK, available shortly at Majestic. 90-92
2005 Château Paul Mas - a touch smokier and richer v firmer and more powerful palate, yet still ripe, rounded and showing great balance of oak/tannins/fruit; lovely concentration v solid grip, the alcohol is a little more noticeable but it works in this wine. 92-94

2004 Château Paul Mas - much more developed than the last time I tasted it two years ago at Vinisud (obviously perhaps but you know what I mean), showing complex liquorice and leather notes; 'sweet' peppery palate with solid structure, grippy tannins yet elegant finish. 92-94

2003 Château Paul Mas - dried fruits, leather and complex herbal v savoury nose; stonky tannins and weight v big rich fruit and power. 90-92
2002 Château Paul Mas - maturing rustic tones with leather and liquorice, further delicious liquorice fruit and savoury tobacco edges on the palate; again still firm tannins but nicely layered, drinking well now. 92-94
2006 Les Tannes Cabernet - Merlot (organic) - nice herbal v tobacco nose with ripe cassis, tangy tannins and quite concentrated & fine finish. 87-89
2006 Mas des Mas, Pézenas (mostly Mourvèdre) - quite closed on the nose, showing tight structure and quite austere in style, oak textured but very concentrated and long. Needs a year or two to open up. 90-92
2006 Mas des Mas, Terrasses du Larzac (more Syrah) - again structured and powerful but a bit richer with black cherry Syrah style; chocolate oak background to its concentrated, firm and commanding finish, yet well-balanced too. 92-94
2006 Mas des Mas, Grés de Montpellier (50% Mourvèdre) - more black fruits and liquorice in style and a tad more savoury too, also peppery with subdued oak; very firm tannins and big weight v 'sweet' fruit and black pepper coming back on its promising finish. 94+?
2007 'lower alcohol' Viognier (10%) - surprisingly characterful, aromatic and faintly exotic with fresh finish; winemakers normally say Viognier isn't an interesting variety unless fully ripe therefore 13-14-15% even. 80-85
2007 Enigma (late harvested Chardonnay blended with 10% Muscat and 20% Viognier both fermented dry, leaving 30 grams/litre residual sugar) - quite exotic v fresh citrus tones, doesn't seem very sweet thanks to its refreshing crisp finish. Nice wine. 87

Stop-press April 2008: Jean-Claude had seven wines selected in the 'Top 100 Vins de Pays' competition, an annual tasting held in Britain aimed at the trade. They were La Forge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Trophy for best Cab Sauv), Arrogant Frog Ribet White Chardonnay/Viognier 2007, Claude Val Rosé 2007, Paul Mas Rosé de Syrah 2007, La Forge Estate Merlot 2007, Paul Mas Merlot 2007 and Paul Mas Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.

2006 update A few new vintages and releases from the JC Mas team, including some unusual blends and the cross-breed red variety Marselan from recently purchased organic vineyards near Pézenas. Tasted at this year's Vinisud:
2005 Sauvignon Blanc dA, Limoux - attractive crisp intense gooseberry and citrus fruit, fresh long finish. 85-87
2005 Viognier - lively and zesty showing lovely depth of rich apricot fruit and aromatic class. 89
2005 La Forge Chardonnay - attractive citrus and peach fruit underlined by subtle toast and cream flavours, good bite v weight on the finish. 90+
2005 La Forge Cabernet Sauvignon - tight focused cassis fruit, firm yet rounded mouthfeel; needs 6 months to come together, promising. 89-90?
Paul Mas 1892 (its name rather than vintage!) (Alicante, Carignan, Cinsault Grenache & Merlot) - stonky grippy palate, unusual meaty style, old fashioned chunky blend but good with it. 87-89
2004 Marselan - curranty juicy fruit, has fair depth and firm texture; different. 87
2004 Château Paul Mas, Coteaux du Languedoc - the oak's quite strong at the moment, but this displays beautiful concentration of blackberry and chocolate; tight, fine yet weighty finish. 92+
2003 Château Paul Mas, Coteaux du Languedoc - similar power v finesse with richer wilder more developed fruit. 92+
2003 Les Faisses, Coteaux du Languedoc - lovely drinking now (with rack of lamb) yet concentrated and structured enough to develop much further; full, gamey and 'sweet' with firm rounded tannins. 92-94
2005 Sauvignon Blanc dA, Limoux - attractive crisp intense gooseberry and citrus fruit, fresh long finish. 85-87
2005 Viognier - lively and zesty showing lovely depth of rich apricot fruit and aromatic class. 89
2005 La Forge Chardonnay - attractive citrus and peach fruit underlined by subtle toast and cream flavours, good bite v weight on the finish. 90+
2005 La Forge Cabernet Sauvignon - tight focused cassis fruit, firm yet rounded mouthfeel; needs 6 months to come together, promising. 89-90?
Paul Mas 1892 (its name rather than vintage!) (Alicante, Carignan, Cinsault Grenache & Merlot) - stonky grippy palate, unusual meaty style, old fashioned chunky blend but good with it. 87-89
2004 Marselan - curranty juicy fruit, has fair depth and firm texture; different. 87
2004 Château Paul Mas, Coteaux du Languedoc - the oak's quite strong at the moment, but this displays beautiful concentration of blackberry and chocolate; tight, fine yet weighty finish. 92+
2003 Château Paul Mas, Coteaux du Languedoc - similar power v finesse with richer wilder more developed fruit. 92+
2003 Les Faisses, Coteaux du Languedoc - lovely drinking now (with rack of lamb) yet concentrated and structured enough to develop much further; full, gamey and 'sweet' with firm rounded tannins. 92-94

Posted January 2005. Reviews of the latest releases from this go-getting Languedoc producer and exporter. Also read my article published in the weekly trade magazine Harpers: Is there a d'Oc in the house? (towards the bottom of that page) which includes a few comments by Jean-Claude Mas.
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Vignes de Nicole, Vin de Pays d'Oc - Wow, needs time: plenty of toasty chocolate oak at the moment concealing big structure and concentration. 90+
2004 Carignan Vieilles Vignes - Tasted from barrique: lots of inky berry fruit with liquorice edges, spicy wood on the firm tight finish, yet shows plenty of nice ripe fruit to balance. Also one to watch. 87+
2004 Claudeval/Domaine de Nicole rosé (Syrah Grenache Cinsault) - Attractive rose petal and strawberry style, quite chunky fruit with a touch of crispness; nice quaffer. Try with tomato and avocado salad. Less than £4. 85
2004 dA Marsanne, Vin de Pays (sourced from the Limoux area) - Attractive honeysuckle aromas, zesty depth with fair concentration of waxy honeyed fruit too; should be rather good in a few months time. 85-87
2003 Ile de Conas Viognier, Michel Mas winemaker, Vin de Pays d'Oc - Quite fat yet flowery apricot fruit; however, this also has lovely bite and length balancing the weighty mouthfeel. Under £6 at Asda. 87-90
2004 La Forge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Vin de Pays d'Oc - Vat sample: lovely balance of riper yet tangy blackcurrant fruit and liquorice edges, firm rounded tannins; will be super in a few months. 90+
2004 La Forge Estate Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d'Oc (40% sourced from Limoux, 60% from 'warm' climate vineyards) - Rich and creamy yet aromatic with fresh peach and pear fruit, more toffee-ish in the mouth but has crisp bite and length too. Yum, a bargain too at £5-6. Asda does the Ile La Forge label for £4.99! 90
2003 Les Faisses, Jean Claude Mas, Coteaux du Languedoc (Syrah Grenache) - Light cedar aromas underneath pure ripe blackcurrant, closed firm palate showing greater elegance than the Vinus, good depth of fruit v solid tannins, very long. Needs time to open up. 90-92
2004 Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays d'Oc - Tasted from barrique: not showing much on the nose, but the palate offers nice youthful cherry fruit set against a tight acid structure; you can see some savoury character underneath, wrapped in not too heavy chocolate oak. Could be good: 85-87. Aldi is now selling Ile la Forge Pinot Noir at £4.99.
2004 Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays d'Oc - Plenty of zingy grapefruit and gooseberry, shows nice balance of green v riper fruit, mineral v fatter palate, crisp length. 86-88
2002 Vinus de Jean Claude Mas, Coteaux du Languedoc (Syrah Grenache) - Hints of cedar mingle with ripe rustic fruit, very grippy and structured set against attractive rounded liquorice fruit, power v elegance on the finish. Very good for 2002, not a great vintage here. 90+

From "Previous wines of the moment" tasted July 2004
2003 Arrogant Frog Ribet Red, Vin de Pays d'Oc (13.5% Screwcap Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon) - Offers a touch of spicy oak, aromatic blackcurrant and cherry fruit, alcohol and some complex earthy notes on the nose; full fruity and spicy leading to firm bite, yet it's drinking well now and will roll out nicely with 6-12 months in bottle. I like your style. 87
2003 Hidden Hill Captivating Chardonnay Viognier, Vin de Pays d'Oc (13% Screwcap) - Fresh aromatic nectarine and apricot nose, nice zesty extract and zingy fruit, lively style and finish. 85-87

2003 Hidden Hill Charismatic Cabernet Shiraz, Vin de Pays d'Oc (13% Screwcap) - Needs a little air... then opens up to reveal spicy blackcurrant, cherry and elderberry fruit; tangy fruity palate finishing with a bit of grip and length. Appears to be suffering a little from "young red under screwcap" syndrome, i.e. displaying reductive notes in the background. 84-86

2003 Hidden Hill Memorable Merlot, Vin de Pays d'Oc (13% Screwcap) - Quite memorable: aromatic cherry, plum and raisin fruit with a tangy twist; reasonably firm palate to start but softens out, especially with food. Appears to be suffering a little from "young red under screwcap" syndrome, i.e. displaying reductive notes in the background. 84-86

2003 Hidden Hill Scintillating Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays d'Oc (12% Screwcap) - Grassy gooseberry aromas lead to a tangy citrus palate, soft acidity adds a touch of crispness; not so scintillating but pleasantly easy going if kept well chilled. 80-83
2003 La Forge Estate Merlot, Vin de Pays d'Oc (13% Unfiltered) - Lovely nose showing rich smoky rustic black cherry and plum fruit touched up with aromatic oak, pretty dense and concentrated with nice thick tannins and fruit leaving a coating in the mouth; modern and chunky yet classical style balancing alcohol, power and subtlety. Bargain at £5.99. 90-92

Domaine de Nicole, Route de Villeveyrac, 34120 Montagnac. Tel: 04 67 90 16 10, paulmas.com / arrogantfrog.fr.

03 April 2010

Languedoc: Château Rives-Blanques, Limoux

Château Rives-Blanques

Jan and Caryl Panman own the neighbouring vineyard to Domaine Bégude (both of them lie above the village of Cépie: follow the signs past and keep going up the lane for five minutes), which they bought over 10 years ago from Eric Vialade, who still works here overseeing vineyards and cellar. The hospitable enthusiastic Panmans only make white and sparkling wines - although their new vintage Crémant de Limoux rosé has a dash of Pinot Noir in it sourced from elsewhere - which they’ll be happy to taste with you after showing you around some of their picturesque vines. These lie on a plateau, although slightly above Bégude, and are farmed in the "most environmentally friendly way" they can, with a couple of plots of old-vine Mauzac undergoing an organic trial (the whole vineyard used to be, but the previous owner was plagued by a certain disease in the mid-90s and was forced to treat with systemic sprays). Talking of Mauzac, Caryl and Jan are vociferous champions of this local variety, which, apart from being used for their sparkling wines, has been transformed into an unusual barrel-aged dried white called Occitania. Others worth trying include their fine Odyssée Limoux Chardonnay, a complex dry Chenin Blanc called Dédicace, La Trilogie (a barrel-selection blend of all three grapes not necessarily made every year) and occasionally a luscious late-harvest passerillé Chenin-Mauzac name after their daughter Xaxa. 

I tried these in situ in April 2010 (read on for 2011 & 2012 updates):
Blanquette de Limoux (90% Mauzac 10% Chenin Blanc, 12.5% alc, 3.5g/l residual sugar) - lightly yeasty and appley on the nose; crisp and refreshing, pretty dry and lively finish, nice clean elegant style. 85+
2007 Crémant de Limoux rosé (ChardonnayChenin BlancPinot Noir) - gentle red fruits with appley vs lightly bready notes; tight fine and crisp mouth-feel, again refreshingly dry vs fuller oilier finish. 87+
2009 Chardonnay-Chenin Blanc vin de pays d'Oc - attractive zesty style vs lightly exotic peachy fruit; turns more citrus zingy and crisp vs a hint of yeast-lees creaminess. 85+
2008 Cuvée Occitania Limoux (100% Mauzac from plots undergoing organic conversion) - a touch of coconut oak and lees on the nose, turning oilier vs wild floral and honeyed aromas/flavours plus fennel and aniseed tones too; rounded with underlying spicy coconut notes vs oily / mineral texture, quite well-handled oak giving something a bit different too. 87
2008 Dédicace Chenin Blanc (13%) - juicy melon fruit vs rounder oily creamy texture; quite elegant and steely finish, closes up on itself although it's promising...
2007 Dédicace Chenin Blanc (13%) - maturing oily notes with coconut edges; attractive ripe melon fruit vs mineral bite, hints of oak spice on its creamy vs fairly steely finish. 87+
2006 Dédicace Chenin Blanc (13%) - more developed oily nose (almost old Riesling-like "petrol"), oxidising and complex; nice rounded towards buttery palate vs greener edges, enticing lingering flavours. 89(+)
2008 Odyssée Limoux (Chardonnay 13.5%) - aromatic citrus notes with underlining buttery, oily and lightly toasty profile; good balance of juicy leesy mouth-feel vs weight and subtle oak spice vs crisp and long. 88-90
2008 Trilogie Limoux (mostly Chenin Blanc ChardonnayMauzac) - a tad exotic and peachy vs nutty and coconut; quite refined and steely vs fatter more powerful side, oily "sweet" texture vs greener fruit and zesty lees; again subtle oak handling, promising. 89-91
2008 Sauvageon (Sauvignon Blanc, 35% new oak) - toasty edges with green pepper and kiwi fruit tones; fatter mouth-feel with oily coconut and slight punch vs crisp and interesting finish. Not everyone's cup of tea though. 85+
2004 Xaxa (late-harvest passerillé 60% Chenin 40% Mauzac, 14% alc & 90g/l RS) - complex nose/palate with marmalade and toasted honey vs orange/lemon peel; has refreshing "cut" and a bit of weight vs that sweetness, lovely balance and style in fact. 90+

Quite a few independent merchants in the US and UK list these wines, including James Nicholson in Northern Ireland.

UPDATES: latest R-B here (Limoux report April 2011)...
And here (Limoux fizz May 2012).

11300 Cépie. Tel: 04 68 31 43 20, www.rives-blanques.com.

18 January 2010

Delmas 2004 Crémant de Limoux

Champagne producers can forward all the "reasons" they like for "having" to charge the money they do - area of production = less wine than world demand type ecomonics is the only convincing one knowing how many grapes some growers there squeeze out of each vine - and they can bang on about unique climate and soils blah blah (an element of equally convincing truth even though bottled-fermented fizz is essentially naturally shaped by the way it's made rather than so-called terroir). But, when you try a "traditional method" sparkling wine from, say, Limoux (western Languedoc) as tasty as this one - Delmas 2004 Crémant de Limoux, aged for 2 years on the yeast-lees giving it nice toastiness and roundness on top of its refreshing tangy side - which at €6.99 presumably gives them a desirable profit margin, you've gotta wonder, no? (It was organically produced too, which might even bump up their costs a little.) I know it's been said before but there's nothing like sipping tangible proof of something to warm you up into a slight rant!

02 December 2009

Languedoc: Domaine de Mouscaillo, Limoux

The lost wee village of Roquetaillade really does feel like it's at the end of the road/world, perched up in the handsome hills south of Limoux at the southern end of the appellation area. There are a few good producers based around here including Marie-Claire and Pierre Fort at Domaine Mouscaillo (some of their vines border Domaine de l'Aigle, for example, now owned by the Gérard Bertrand group), whose 4.5 ha/13 acres of vineyards climb up gentle slopes to 400m/1300 feet in altitude. Mainly two varieties and two exposures: the Chardonnay faces north and the Pinot Noir south, more or less (the surging terrain here isn't as black-and-white chiselled out as that). There's "a tiny bit of Chenin and Mauzac too," as Pierre explained on my visit in December 2009.
The Forts returned to the south after many years at the helm of rather well-known Château de Tracy in Pouilly-Fumé (central vineyards, inner Loire valley). Pierre is also quietly optimistic about the future for Pinot planted in prime sites, although it's taken time to find its feet and they only have less than one hectare at the moment! I tend to agree, as you'll see from my notes below and comments made elsewhere on Languedoc producers experimenting with Pinot. Expanding briefly on winemaking techniques used for the Chardy, he told me they "ferment in demi-muids (450 litre barrels of varying ages) with lees-stirring, then leave it until after the following harvest." As for vintage 2009, "we picked from 1 to 12 September. It was hot from June onwards and we had to pick quickly, so acidity is lower than usual but it's not too alcoholic either." I tried a few promising 2009s from cask and all vintages back to 2004, their first actually, in descending order:

09 "younger vines" Chardy - lovely grapefruit and spicy floral notes; turning bready and creamy vs juicy and dry, just a touch of fresh acidity on the finish.
09 "older vines" Chardy - touch toastier and more structured, more powerful too yet with mineral bite, juicy citrus fruit and nice length.
09 "old vines" Chardy (malolactic fermentation done) - richer with more prominent yeast-lees notes vs again attractive juicy citrus zest, then more buttery on the finish vs finer acidity.
09 "old vines" Chardy (no malo-lactic) - much crunchier and fresher with pure lemony fruit, nice bite and length.
These lots of Chardy all end up in the final blend, in differing proportions, as Mouscaillo only does one label.
2009 Pinot Noir (older cask) - attractive perfumed cherry and spicy notes, expressive Pinot style; touch more savoury on the palate with freshness and light grip.
09 Pinot Noir (new barrique) - more structured and firmer tannins, spicier but still has plenty of Pinot character and depth too.
2008 Pinot Noir (from vat) - delicate and quite intricate again showing those perfumed floral cherry tones, subtle creamy depth and "sweet/savoury" flavours; lively and fairly firm finish with nice length. Give it a bit of time in bottle and we'll see. 87(+)
2007 Pinot - richer darker red fruits on the nose; firmer mouthfeel closing up to a pretty structured finish vs elegant perfumed fruit underneath. Needs 2-3 years to open up although again hints at some quality PN touches. 86-88
2008 white Limoux (about to be bottled) - quite honeyed and peachy vs spicy toasted edges; fairly powerful mouthfeel vs refreshing acidity adding mineral bite, then toastier fatter finish. 88+
2007 white - richer and more open with background toast notes, pineapple, peach and citrus too; quite creamy and oily, still a bit toasty on the palate, but it's concentrated and turning nutty too with nice weight on the finish vs fairly crisp acidity actually. 89-91
2006 white - maturing yeasty creamy notes vs background spice; oily and rounded mouthfeel vs attractive refreshing twist, less concentrated with grainier texture although drinking quite well now. 87+
2005 white - delicious buttery Burgundian nose, complex with hazelnut and oaty/leesy development; powerful and full yet tighter than the 06 in the end vs exotic, oily and nutty; good balance with a touch of class even if it's quite toasty/woody still, as there's lots going on plus that attractive maturing and rich vs vibrant finish. 90+
2004 white - oddly the nose is less open at first and toastier perhaps; quite fat and creamy vs a tad more awkward wood on the palate, although does show some depth vs fresh mineral finish. 87

UPDATES: latest vintages etc. here (Limoux report, April 2011).
2014: some news and latest vintages to follow soon...

6 rue du Frêne, 11300 Roquetaillade. Tel: 04 68 31 38 25 / 06 78 93 37 61, mouscaillo.com.

21 April 2008

Languedoc: Domaine de Martinolles, Limoux

UPDATED May 2012 - see link below.

Domaine de Martinolles

Located roughly between Limoux and Carcassonne outside the village of Saint-Hilaire (the abbey here is said to be where the Blanquette traditional method sparkling style was first conceived), you'll eventually find the Vergnes family's cellar, tasting room and holiday gite at the end of a twisty track off the 'main' road (you'll see a kind of embossed stone obelisk marking the entrance). Once you've passed through vineyards and olive trees, all you have to do is manoeuvre your car around a couple of snoozing dogs blocking the drive, after they've checked you out and given an approving 'woof'. Guardians of a fairly classic range, if you like, especially their Crémant (the Vergnes' obviously, although perhaps one of the hounds is a part-time winemaker).
I digress: these wines were tasted in April 2008 at the estate:

2006 Limoux blanc 'vieilles vignes' (Chardonnay 13.5%) - quite big, fat and toasty yet also has fairly rich rounded fruit and refreshing finish. €7.70 87
2005 Limoux rouge (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah) - perfumed 'garrigue' tones with spicy plum and black cherry fruit, moves on to a bitter chocolate v liquorice palate with fresh but rounded tannins. €5.40 87
2006 Blanquette de Limoux (mostly Mauzac 12.5%) - shows a nice mix of fresh and crisp v biscuity and more exotic fruit; finishing with elegant dry length. €6.20 87
2005 Crémant de Limoux (Chardonnay Chenin blanc Pinot Noir 12.5%) - more generous and classier displaying fine oily toasty fruit v crisp, stylish and long finish. €8 90+


11250 Saint-Hilaire. Tel: 04 68 69 41 93, www.martinolles.com.


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