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Showing posts with label biodynamic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label biodynamic. Show all posts

18 July 2014

Bordeaux retrospective

As well as updating my hearty Bordeaux page, I've resurrected some more archive features and created a second new Bordeaux page (follow the links below):

Pomerol "invasion of MW students" in two parts: featuring Vieux Château Certan, Le Pin, Gazin (2003).
Château Falfas: "biodynamic in Côtes de Bourg" (2002).
"Bordeaux travel, in brief..." (scroll down to bottom of page) - celebrity château-spotting with Beychevelle, Ferrière, Margaux, Lafon-Rochet, Cos d’Estournel, Lynch-Bages, Lagrange, Rauzan-Ségla, Saint-Émilion; and eating and tasting posh but not dear at Le Bistro du Sommelier... (2001).
I might add all the accompanying tasting notes at some point too, if I can be bothered and can find them in my 'digital archives'...

14 August 2013

Languedoc: Château Maris - Minervois La Livinière

from chateaumaris.com
Robert Eden, "bio-dynamic wine maker" as he describes himself on their website, has been working in the Languedoc for many years now and set up Château Maris 15 years ago, backed by Kevin Parker of Green Partners. They're obviously very committed to environmentally friendly wine production - Demeter certified since 2008, Biodyvins in 2004 (both for biodynamics), Ecocert in 2002 and the National Organic Program - and there's a fair amount of detail on this on their site: click on web link under the photo (Robert with one of their vineyard horses). But to try and go 'all the way' organically, in terms of carbon emissions, water and energy sustainability etc., they also built "the world’s first hemp cellar." Before you spliff-heads out there get too excited, this means they used hemp and lime bricks, which apparently continue absorbing CO2 for many years "as the lime solidifies into limestone," and a lot of raw wood from sustainably managed forests. They claim these materials also provide excellent natural insulation, while being able "to breathe" at the same time...

The € prices quoted are from online retailer The Languedoc Wineshop. Their wines are well distributed in the US, e.g. Verity Wine Partners NY or Kimberly Jones in California, and in Canada (see website for more info); and through Armit Wines in London (£ prices from their online store).
2011 Maris Organic Minervois (mostly Syrah, Grenache) - lovely pure spicy violet and black cherry aromas, tasty fruit with fairly easy-going tannins, nice ripe vs peppery finish. €7.80, £59.94 for six.
2010 La Touge Minervois La Livinière (85% Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - similar pure spicy Syrah style fruit on the nose, punchier and more structured though, attractive dry tannin vs sweet fruit texture, fresh bite and good length. €12.40, £89.94 for six.
2010 Continuité de Nature La Livinière (90% Carignan, Grenache) - jammy blue fruits lined with fresh acidity yet powerful too, concentrated and tight palate, very different from the above wine considering it's the same vintage, leaner and longer; probably more versatile with food though. €21.60, £119.94 for six.
2009 Nouvelles Fraiches Grenache - 'oily' sweet liquorice notes on the nose, ripe and rounded mouth-feel, quite punchy, fades a little in the end. €16.60

09 August 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Turner Pageot, Gabian

Frenchman Emmanuel Pageot and Australian Karen Turner almost strike you as an uber-qualified and experienced couple, with an impressive international wine world background between them. Karen studied winemaking at Adelaide Uni, and Emmanuel's CV takes in France's Université du Vin, sommelier training, UK trade qualifications and learning the biodynamic way from certain distinguished mentors; and, before doing their own thing, they both worked for some well-known names in Aus, UK, elsewhere in France, South Africa, Italy and Portugal. However, this isn't some globalized shiny winery operation, but a small (6.5 ha/16 acres) down-to-earth and bio-dynamically farmed estate off the beaten Languedoc track that appears to be making quality-focused wines worth talking about. Domaine Turner-Pageot is split up into four main chunks of vineyard circling the little village of Gabian, which lies about halfway along the road from Pézenas to Faugères, to the north of Béziers. It's a pretty part of the world to tour around, also sitting between Magalas and Neffies on a hilly southwest-northeast axis. Back to winemaking, very briefly, they prefer to "limit use of SO2 to the final bottling stage" when possible; and both whites and reds spend a fair amount of time ageing on the fine lees. I like their colourful 'modernist' labels too, like the fishy rosé here; makes them stand out. More @ turnerpageot.com.

2012 Le Blanc (Marsanne, Roussanne) - floral honeysuckle and apricot notes, creamy lees-y palate with spicy floral notes and quite exotic fruit too, crisp vs fatter profile with tasty long finish. €11 cellar door.
2011 48H 'rosé' (Grenache, Syrah macerated for two days and 'bled' off) - very deep colour with cherry fruity 'boiled sweet' nose, full and lush mouth-feel with light grip even vs nice creamy fruit. Wow, serious foodie style. €7
2011 Le Rouge (mostly Grenache + Syrah) - perfumed fruity nose with black cherry and cassis, fairly concentrated vs firm tannins and fresh bite too, lively yet tight finish; needs one to two years to open up. €11
2011 Carmina Mayor ("best barrel selection" of 70% Syrah from basalt & limestone soils, 30% Mourvèdre on sandstone) - a touch funkier on the nose with herbal berry fruit, tight and a bit awkward on the palate with light bitter twist; has good depth and length though, so maybe just needs to calm down a little in bottle... €14

Previous comments on some of their wines HERE - my mini-report on Pézenas area wineries penned in May 2011 (mind you, reading it again, I obviously wasn't that keen on their 2009 vintage Rouge!). Emmanuel and Karen are also one of the Terroiristes du Languedoc gang caught pensively on film by Ken Payton, and the Languedoc Outsiders (goes to Facebook) where I pinched the photo from.

08 August 2013

Spain: Loxarel - Catalunya

Based at their Can Mayol estate near Vilobí del Penedès in the hills just to the north of Vilafranca (about 40-50 km west of Barcelona), the Mitjans family produces, following organic and biodynamic techniques, an interesting mix of 'local vs international' whites and reds, in addition to a variety of different rosés. From classic Catalan rosat (even if containing a large splash of Pinot) to an "extreme" style made from high-altitude late-picked Merlot; and a quirky barrel-fermented one from Xarel.lo vermell, a virtually extinct red-skinned version of this indigenous variety, which I wasn't that keen on though. And let's not forget the great range of traditional method sparklers (I won't call them Cava, as they've dropped that term...), most of them made in the Brut Nature style, i.e. no dosage added (= unsweetened). Check out their wild '109' at the bottom; hard to find fizz with much more flavour and complexity, except Bolly RD perhaps! € prices quoted are cellar door/online: click on the web link below the photo for more info.
Goat pruning method - from loxarel.com
2012 Xarel.lo (fermented in amphorae, 13% abv) - nutty 'mineral' nose, crisp and steely palate with light yeast-lees and pear notes, intense mineral bite vs lightly oily texture and bruised pear fruit; elegant and long. €12
2012 Petit Arnau rosat (Pinot noir, Merlot; 13% abv) - lively cherry fruit, full and creamy mouth-feel with fair weight vs crisp dry and tight with attractive raspberry and cranberry fruit. Nice dry rosé style. €6.40
2011 Gal Gran Arnau rosat (Merlot, 14.5% abv) - described as "extreme rosé", this has earthy, smoky even, raspberry and black cherry fruit, ripe vs crisp with a touch of grip on the palate, big mouthful; unusual! €12.50
2011 Eos Syrah (from a single vineyard in the upper Penedès at 600 metres altitude farmed organically, eight months in new Hungarian oak 500 litre barrels; 14.5% abv) - pure spicy/floral black cherry Syrah style, nice sweet fruit vs grippy texture, fairly intense finish; attractive "modern" red. €10.70
2008 '790' Reserva (single estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% abv) - maturing savoury 'oily' notes vs peppery cassis with cedary edges; quite smooth palate with enticing 'sweet/savoury' finish vs still a little firmness too; developed a bit of complexity as well. €13.80
2008 Cava Reserva Vintage Brut Nature (now labelled as D.O Penedès, old-vine Xarel.lo & Chardonnay; 12% abv) - light bready oat cake notes, crisp and dry mouth-feel vs rich and classy, long fresh finish with subtle toasted flavours. Very nice fizz, great value at €7.40.
2002 'Cent Nou' Gran Reserva Brut Nature (95% old-vine Xarel.lo: 'new' sparkling D.O Penedès style which isn't disgorged, i.e. fine lees sediment left in the bottle. Cent Nou = 109 in Catalan, as in 109 months bottle-ageing on the yeast lees!) Full-on rich nose, oat biscuit and chocolate with more exotic fruit too (dried apricot!) vs very yeasty, freshly baked bread notes; very intense flavour with nutty toasty finish vs lean mineral bite. Wow, not tried anything like that before! €64

Plenty more from Spain, Catalunya and Cava HERE.

02 August 2013

France: Alsace - Domaine Martin Schaetzel

The Martin Schaetzel wine estate spreads over 20 hectares (50 acres) of vineyards in the Ammerschwihr area, including several highly rated Grand Cru sites, and has been certified organic since 1998 as well as Demeter, the fearsome biodynamic controlling body. Their Kaefferkopf vineyard lies on a hillside to the south and west of the village made up of "granite, chalk and sandstone..." from the top down roughly. Eichberg ("oak mountain") and Pfersigberg ("peach tree mountain") are found to the southwest of Colmar and both enjoy a well-exposed warm microclimate. The family head is Jean Schaetzel these days, with his righthand man winery and export manager Michel Vié.

From www.martin-schaetzel.com

2011 Riesling Kaefferkopf Grand Cru - apple and almond notes, turning quite rich and limey on the palate vs creamy rounded character, very crisp and mineral though with linear bite on the finish vs that oily textured/flavoured backdrop. Different. €16 cellar door.
2011 Riesling Eichberg Grand Cru - ripe lime fruit with exotic peachy edges, again crisp and mineral mouth-feel with very long piercing bite vs lightly oily and nutty side too; tight dry finish, needs time. Wow. €16
2011 Pinot Gris Eichberg Grand Cru - juicy honeyed fruit with spicy notes, pretty full-on powerful style with oily nutty texture/flavours vs underlying crisp bite too. Definitely a foodie (Chinese, Thai, Indian even...). €15.50
2010 Gewurztraminer Kaefferkopf "Catherine" - classic lychee aromas with pineapple, honey and dried fruits too; even more lychee on the palate, powerful yet with mineral bite, still very perfumed vs enticing maturing oily side. Good stuff. €19
2011 Gewurztraminer Pfersigberg Grand Cru - relatively subdued nose vs explosion of fresh lychee and kiwi on the palate, quite big ripe and punchy, less dry perhaps than the above, pretty powerful flavour and weight vs attractive bitter twist. €16
2008 Pinot Gris vendanges tardives (late picked) - complex developing nose, honeyed and 'musky'; sweet dried fruits on the palate vs lively acidity, tight and very long finish, still tasting young with a few years ahead of it yet.

Oodles more on Alsace HERE (goes to archive page).

06 December 2012

Roussillon: Domaine Nivet-Galinier, Ponteilla

Domaine Nivet-Galinier

David, Lydie and son Boris Nivet tend seven hectares (17 acres) of treasured old vines (some of their Carignan has been around for over 100 years) - split into two distinctly different plots in the central Roussillon flatlands - taking a naturally laid-back grass-roots biodynamic farming view of life (they've been 'Demeter' certified since 2001). You'll find their vineyards, cellar and home off the back-road between Ponteilla and Le Soler in the heart of Les Aspres country, a few kilometres from Perpignan or Thuir (it's signposted). This unashamedly 'natural' approach results in quirky complex or elusive wines even that are perhaps a little on the wild side for some overly technical people. But their intense aged white wines, for instance, do last surprisingly well as testimony. The earthy Nivet-Galinier team sells most of their wines in France, but does export some to Japan too, I was told. These reds and whites were tasted with Boris and David at the Millésime Bio organic wine fair in Montpellier on two occasions, in 2010 and 2012. They also make some interesting cask-matured Rivesaltes Vins Doux Naturels as well as honey, growing spuds, milling maize...

2008 Macabeu white, Côtes Catalanes - attractive 'oxidative' style showing nutty vs honey and banana notes; quite rich mouth-feel actually vs appley and mineral bite, crisp length too. 89
2008 Macabeu tasted two years later: nutty 'Fino' tinged nose and palate, rich and intense vs dry and mineral, still alive and tasty. Wow, very good: see what I mean!
2008 Macabeu/Grenache gris white, Côtes Catalanes - similar although showing more yeast-lees notes and perhaps fuller too; rounded mouth-feel vs again has nice bite and length. 89
2005 Les Aspres Côtes du Roussillon (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache) - lovely maturing savoury tobacco-tinged nose with underlying 'sweet' liquorice; firm and peppery palate with dry coating of tannins vs lush dark fruit. 89+
2006 Les Aspres Côtes du Roussillon (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache) - smokier and more rustic ('bretty' even); 'inky' vs rich and dark with meaty undertones, pity about that 'farmyard' side, as it's got natural intensity. 86+
2006 Les Aspres two years later: 'soupy' rustic and lush, again it's intense with grip vs ripe maturing fruit, power and 'sweet/savoury' flavour combo on the finish; still quite structured actually vs more elegant maturing side.
2006 Côtes du Roussillon (similar blend with more Syrah) - spicier dark cherry aromas, same kind of lush liquorice and 'tar' styling; smoky but not too, grippy mouth-feel although quite well-balanced. 87+
2007 Les Aspres – has more vibrant fruit with meaty edges, (more) powerful and concentrated too with attractive solid vs 'sweet/savoury' finish. Good stuff.
2007 Côtes du Roussillon – a little baked on the nose vs enticing minty character too, has less substance than the above perhaps although still quite intense and long.

23 July 2012

Roussillon: Domaine Cazes update, Rivesaltes

Lionel Lavail and Emmanuel Cazes
Click here to read what I've said about Cazes and their wines on various occasions over the past six years. The most recent catch-up session with Emmanuel Cazes (vineyard manager & winemaker) and Lionel Lavail (sales director) was at Millésime Bio organic wine show earlier this year, where I had the chance to try some of their 2010 and 2011 vintages. These were my favourite two for entirely different reasons...

Canon du Maréchal 2011 Muscat/Viognier - grapey aromas with exotic touches, apricot vs orange notes; crisp and 'mineral' with light bitter twist, nice and easy style. €6.60 cellar door.
2010 Ego Côtes du Roussillon Villages (still roughly the same Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre blend) – attractive dark fruit with savoury edges and towards chocolate notes/texture although it's quite subtle, nice ripe mouthful offset by herby edges, grippy vs rounded mouth-feel. Good stuff, possibly better than previous vintages. €10 cellar door (comparatively much better value than the above).

LATEST vintage VDN released by Cazes tasted here: Rivesaltes ambré 2000 (February 2014).

11 May 2012

Austria: Werner Michlits, Burgenland

Egg-shaped vats at Meinklang
The Michlits family - namely Anneliese, Werner, Johannes and Lukas - estate is a comforting back-to-nature flashback in time (apart from those splendidly quirky egg-shaped concrete vats - see photo - which have become the trendy thing to ferment your wine in apparently), as vines are just one of the 'foodstuffs' that receive their undivided biodynamic attention (and the fruit is turned into grape juice and wine). They also grow apples (and make apple juice, brandy and vinegar), cereals (transformed into beer) and sunflowers and rear cattle (you'll notice a bit of a cow/bull theme on their website and labels), pigs and horses too! The most planted grape varieties here are the red Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, pretty typical of the warmer Burgenland region in eastern Austria, followed by other reds Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir) and St. Laurent plus a smidgen of 30+ year-old Cabernet Sauvignon, the region's oldest Cab I'm told.
On the white front, which I focused on tasting at this year's Millésime Bio wine show held in Montpellier a few months ago, they have Welschriesling (Laski Rizling, "Italian" Riesling or Graševina among other synonyms; but it's not Riesling Riesling the experts say), Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grüner Veltliner and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris). The farm, actually the most appropriate word, has been run organically since 1980 and is now Demeter registered. And, as if all of this wasn't enough to keep them busy, they have a small vineyard across the border in Somló, Hungary, hence the ever-so-familiar (not!), and rather delicious in fact, Juhfark varietal wine noted below; as well as more familiar, although much trickier to pronounce Hárslevelü. Like your style! More info, and a selection of nice little red and green cows doubling up as links, @ www.meinklang.at.

Meinklang Grüner Veltliner 2011 - aromatic and peppery nose, intense zingy green fruity mouth-feel with lively finish, nice refreshing style. €7.60 cellar door.
Graupert 2011 (Pinot Gris) - quite rich and honeyed countered by attractive spice tones, big mouthful with creamy oily texture/flavours vs crisp tight finish; good characterful stuff. €13.60
Juhfark 2010 - also lush textured with exotic fruit style, concentrated vs steely palate with lots of flavour and finish. Very good though dear at nearly €20 a bottle.
Weißburgunder Eiswein 2008 - complex dried fruits, honey and marmalade vs intense lively acidity, lush sweet dried fruit finish vs steely cut. Wow, lovely wine.

LOTS MORE AUSTRIA HERE (Pfaffl, Grüner Veltliner Galore, "I'll be back..." and other archive features) or see post below: Sepp Moser.

30 April 2012

Austria: Weingut Sepp Moser

The Moser family
Weingut Moser is an old and well-known family estate (partly due to famous ancestor Lenz Moser who pioneered new viticulture techniques in the 1950s) originally acquired in the mid 19th Century, although the Mosers have been connected with vineyards and wine for much longer than that; and it saw a rebirth and name tweak (to Sepp) with a little restructuring in the 1980s. Today it's run by son Nikolaus, who introduced biodynamic wine-growing methods in 2006 (certain vineyards are now Demeter certified) among other 'back-to-basics' ideas. They own vines in Kremstal (70 km/45 miles west of Vienna where the cellar and home is), Neusiedlersee, Lower Austria and Burgenland. At the family base in Rohrendorf near Krems, specific vineyards include the highly-rated Gebling (two wines sampled and tasting-noted below), an 8.5 ha (21 acre) plot featuring steep south-facing terraces. Apart from signature varieties "Grooner" and Riesling, they also have some Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot blanc, Muscat, a few red varieties and make a rosé too (as you do nowadays). I talked to Nikolaus and tasted these at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier:

2011 Grüner Veltliner von den Terrassen - steely green-fruited and crisp start, turning juicy gummy and spicy then oilier too, lively fresh finish although not too acidic. Good. €8.50 cellar door.
2010 Grüner Veltliner Gebling - creamier fuller style with tantalising white pepper edges, vibrant and concentrated with yeast-lees tones then long steely finish. Very good. €12 cellar door.
2010 Riesling Gebling - aromatic 'chalky' nose with hints of celery, concentrated crisp and lively with lime fruit flavours, developing oily touches on the finish. Delicious wine. €16 cellar door.
2009 Grüner Veltliner 'Minimal' - very buttery with toasty hazelnut and fino notes, rich and tasty vs dry 'mineral' palate, superb finish and style. Different too. €25 cellar door.
2009 Riesling Beerenauslese - oily nose with orange peel nuances, lush sweet mouth-feel vs lovely bite and length vs lots of lingering dried fruit flavours. Classy sweetie. €24 cellar door.

These wines have pretty good distribution across Europe (including the UK and Ireland), North America, Japan, China, Australia & NZ and Israel: see www.sepp-moser.at.

LOTS MORE AUSTRIA HERE (Pfaffl, Grüner Veltliner Galore, "I'll be back..." and other archive features).

29 March 2010

Roussillon: Domaine Cazes, Rivesaltes

Lionel Lavail and Emmanuel Cazes
Lionel Lavail and Emmanuel Cazes
A quick visit, chat and tasting (mid Sept 2006) in their shop at the winery in Rivesaltes, just north of Perpignan, revealed the first batch of wines below. You'll also find a couple more in my Millésime Bio 2006 wine show report, meaning Cazes is organically farmed with a view to gradually integrating biodynamic methods across the whole estate. It's pretty big (170 hectares/420 acres), so it must be back-breaking to apply all those 'alternative medicines' to that many vines. Maybe the sheer size and resultant range form part of a slight criticism I have: too large perhaps, as some of the wines aren't that exciting considering their reputation and higher than average prices. However, some are.
2005 Muscat-Viognier, vin de pays d'Oc - the Viognier adds weight, spice and exotic fruit without overpowering the Muscat, which lends a mineral slightly bitter finish; falls a little short after promising start.
2000 Credo Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, vin de pays d'Oc - a bit oxidised (been open too long probably) and oaky, developing leather and cassis notes on the palate, mature fruit v light bite of tannins; the oak's also a bit dominant on the finish.
Libre Expression, Rancio Sec (Macabeu, 16%) - you'll think it's going to be sweet thanks to the rich ripe honeyed characters, but it's off dry with a tangy mineral finish. Different.
1976 Rivesaltes cuvée Aimé Cazes (80% Grenache Blanc 20% Grenache) - complex developed pecan nut and 'cheesy' Madeira notes, mouth-coating richness v oxidised fruit, nice fresh finish considering its age and sweetness (110g/l). 90-92

Update March 2007. I met the energetic Lionel Lavail, who heads up an expanding family empire backed by big Languedoc house Jeanjean. The group now takes in the Cazes brand, Mas de Lavail (see A to Z) near Maury (Lionel's uncle, aunt and cousin), Domaine des Hospices (his parents' estate near Canet) and Cazes' project with co-ops in the Latour de France appellation (see below). Business talk aside, from the visitor's point of view, summer 07 saw a refit for the tasting room and shop and plans for an organic café-deli are well under way...
2006 Canon Muscat-Viognier, vin de pays Côtes Catalanes - nice aromatic mix of grape and apricot, crisp yet quite fat, dry v fruity; good commercial style. 80+
2006 Canon Syrah/Merlot/Grenache rosé, vin de pays Côtes Catalanes - zingy floral red fruit cocktail, crisp and clean. 83+
2005 Canon Syrah/Merlot, vin de pays Côtes Catalanes - light and creamy with tangy currant fruit and spice. 80+
2005 Château de Triniac, Latour de France Côtes du Roussillon Villages - attractive black cherry and liquorice notes, successful mix of medium-bodied ripe fruit v nice dry grip, needs a few months to round out a little. France €4 US $9 UK £5 87
2000 Credo Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot - tasted rather cold, but showing perfumed sweet oak with nice gamey edges coming through, concentrated v quite elegant; the oak's still a bit dominant over nevertheless good underlying fruit and length. 89+?
Tasted summer 2007:
2006 Syrah rosé, Domaine des Hospices, vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (12%) - vibrantly coloured and fruity dry rosé with crunchy red fruits, light creaminess and crisp bite. 85
2006 Muscat sec, les Hospices de Canet, vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (12.5%) - nice, well-made style with plenty of aromatic grape and citrus fruit; crisp, dry and fresh v a little rounded too. 85

2009 update from Millésime Bio wine fair in Montpellier (late January):
I tasted a few new vintages and chatted with Emmanuel Cazes, who updated me on latest goings-on chez the family empire; including building work in the pipeline for a fully-fledged organic tapas bar-restaurant next to their offices and cellars in Rivesaltes (and the difficulties!). I have to say, though, I thought the wines were a bit of a mixed bag; the ones below were my favourites:
2008 Muscat-Viognier vin de pays - bubbly fresh grapey nose with orange peel edges, slightly exotic and juicy palate. Overpriced though at €6.60. 83-85
2008 Syrah-Merlot Vin de pays - nice youthful vibrant fruit, a bit of grip in the mouth v fruity finish. Overpriced though at €6.60. 83-85
2007 Ego Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre) - better than the 2006 with its lively blackberry/cherry fruit and rustic edges; chunky and firm texture and good length. €9.50 87
2005 Alter Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre) - mature ripe nose, herbal v liquorice fruit profile with power and spice on its attractive finish. €13 87-89
2005 Rivesaltes Grenat VDN (Grenache) - expressive blackberry and spice on the nose; youthful fruit and not so sweet-tasting thanks to good grip and underlying freshness. €11.50 88

Update March 2010
Emmanuel, who's in charge of technical matters re vineyards (although his father and uncle are still very hands-on here) and winemaking, laid on a tasting at their offices/wine shop; and we ate in their new (mostly) organic restaurant next door afterwards (recommended if you're in the area: see website below). I asked him how difficult is it to apply biodynamic farming methods to an estate the size of Cazes (nearly 200 ha/500 acres)? "We went biodynamic via good old farmer's common sense and now just do it on a much bigger scale. For example, we have three large dynamisers and each one can do 50 litres of herbal teas, which will treat 20 to 30 ha when we can or want to, while respecting the right days. This helps us avoid doing stupid things and keep the balance between soil, plant life etc. At the start, the vines were "stressed" for a few years, but after that we noticed softer soil with better colour and (ultimately) more concentrated fruit." Emmanuel also explained that "we're focusing more on Syrah and Mourvèdre as the Grenache we have isn't great clones... we're replanting Grenache and have changed the way we're working with Mourvèdre, so it's producing well."
Le Canon du Maréchal vin de pays range (300,000 bottles a year!):
2009 Muscat/Viognier (13%) - elegant grapey aromas with light apricot and orange tones; fairly crisp and mineral vs slight bitter twist, quite nice style. 80+
2009 Syrah/Merlot rosé (12.5%) - attractive juicy style with subtle creamy red fruits, also just bottled when I tried it but good elegant vs fuller finish. 83+
2008 Syrah/Merlot - nice fruity red with a bit of grip and crisp mouthfeel even; cherry and plum fruit, a tad light but it's OK. 80+
2008 Marie-Gabrielle Côtes du Roussillon (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre 13.5%) - a  bit closed up at first, quite tight and grippy vs juicy black fruits; fair structure actually with gentle cherry and liquorice flavours, "chalky" tannins on the finish. 85+
2007 Ego Côtes du Roussillon Villages (13.5%) - smokier and more developed, ripe nose with leather edges and a tad volatile but it works; quite concentrated and fleshy showing nice fruit turning savoury, fairly solid yet attractive tannins adding dry bite vs "sweetness" and a touch of dark chocolate. 87+
2007 Alter Côtes du Roussillon Villages (14.5%) - touches of spicy coconut oak but not overdone, it adds a little bit of attractive grainy texture and sweetness vs dry chunky framework; punchier yet well-balanced with a bitter twist to finish. 87-89
2008 Collioure "Notre Dame des Anges" (Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan Syrah 14%) - Cazes is working with a handful of co-ops and estates here to make this wine, €1 of its hefty €14 price-tag being donated to a charity working on the upkeep of the countryside and terraced vineyards in the area. Appealing spicy liquorice notes, quite elegant and soft with sweet berry fruit and a bit of bite; nice although fairly simple perhaps. 85+
1996 Rivesaltes Ambré - beginning to turn quite oxidised with toasted walnut and mature cheese edges; enticing oily palate with nutty tangy bite vs rich and mouth-filling, good balance of sugar and alcohol (15%). 88-90
2005 Grenat - fruity chunky style with nice black cherry and liquorice, beginning to turn meaty too; sweet "cough mixture" vs firm dry tannins, fair oomph still (15.5%) although should integrate nicely over the next couple of years. 87-89
1990 Tuilé - complex Madeira nose and tangy vs sweet pecan nuts; concentrated and intricate vs 16.5% power, still delicious with its long sweet/savoury finish. 92(+)
2006 Muscat de Rivesaltes (mostly Alexandria, 15%) - developing very orange peel edges vs honey and dried apricot; lush mouthfeel yet has attractive bite and style still. 87+
1991 Muscat de Rivesaltes (yes, all bottle age! 15%) - much less Muscat-y and much richer with cooked marmalade; oily and sweet vs still tangy and lively surprisingly. 89+
1978 Aimé Cazes (15%) - Madeira overtones, stewed sultanas and intense pecan/walnuts; oily and rich vs tangy and intense, delicious coating with sweet/sour twist, complex volatile lingering flavours and huge length. 93-95

More Cazes here (2009 Saint-Bacchus awards).

And the very latest is here (July 2012).

4 rue Francisco Ferrer, 66600 Rivesaltes. Tel: 04 68 64 08 26, www.cazes-rivesaltes.com.

01 February 2007

Organically focused on Corsica: Abbatucci & Granajolo

Corsica was one of my three main themes to stay organically focused at the Millésime Bio 2007 showcase, held in Narbonne (Languedoc) a few days ago (the other two were Alsace and Tuscany: that link takes you to the other two-thirds of the wines on WineWriting.com). Read my reports on Millésime Bio 2006 and 2005 for a slightly less eclectic selection of wines and comments on organic viticulture. Plus winners (honoured or should've been) and views from last year's Signature Bio competition.


Okay, there were only two estates from Beauty Island at the MB show - maybe the only ones farmed organically? - so hardly representative. Domaine Comte Abbatucci is now run according to biodynamic principles: whatever the methods, it's recognised as one of the best producers, which I agree with wholeheartedly. Jean-Charles Abbatucci has been experimenting with 18 previously vanished Corsican varieties with some interesting results - see my notes on his 2006 white vat samples. And his red Faustine blend is delicious: he had three different vintages at the tasting.
On the other hand, Domaine de Granajolo perhaps exemplifies the disappointment I've felt before with Corsican wines - admittedly it's been a few years since I've been there though. Or their reds at least, which lack real ripeness and generosity. I'm not sure why: are the varieties planted in the wrong sites or the growing techniques unsuitable or do they just pick too early? Either way, when will Corsica as a whole fulfil what appears to be such great potential? While you're mulling over these cumbersome questions, enjoy the wines:

Comte Abbatucci - Casalabriva

2006 Vermentinu (tank sample) - nice concentration v aromatic fruit, zesty v ripe and rounded; unusual. 87-89
2006 rosé (tank sample: Barbarossa Sciacarellu) - floral redcurrant, very zesty with nice extract and fresh length. 87-89
2006 white blend 1 (I didn't write the grape names down and couldn't find them on their website) - banana and peach notes lead to a creamy concentrated palate and fresh length; interesting. 87+
2006 white blend 2 - zesty extract v rich fruit, quite yeasty at the moment yet should be good. 87+
2005 cuvée Faustine, Ajaccio AOC (Sciacarellu Niellucciu and a touch of old vine Carignan) - smoky ripe Italianesque raisin and liquorice fruit, soft fruity mouth-feel v quite firm and fresh, nice power v elegance. 89-91
2004 cuvée Faustine (Sciacarellu Niellucciu and a touch of old vine Carignan) - less smoky, more structured yet similar in character, nice grip v ripeness. 90-92
2003 cuvée Faustine (Sciacarellu Niellucciu and a touch of old vine Carignan) - more developed and complex on the nose, quite rich 'tar' tones v firm and fresh, power v lovely fruit. 92

By the way, if you're feeling well-off, you can drink Abbatucci's wines in Gordon Ramsay's London restaurants.

ABBATUCCI WINES TASTED PREVIOUSLY (biodynamic wines report May 2006).

Domaine de Granajolo - Ste Lucie de Porto-Vecchio

2005 blanc
, Corse Porto-Vecchio AOC - fresh perfumed and zesty with lemon and banana notes, tight steely finish. 87
2005 cuvée Monika rosé (Niellucciu) - nice creamy fruit showing toffee-like edges v tart raspberry flavours, weighty v appealing freshness. 87
2003 cuvée Monika rouge (Syrah Niellucciu) - herbal red pepper tones v rustic richness, tannins are a bit hard but this has more generous fruit than the two 04 reds I tried. 83-85

LATEST ON GRANAJOLO HERE (profile, 2009 reds and 2011 white and rosé...)


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