"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 northern Rhône Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label northern Rhône Valley. Show all posts

19 November 2014

Rhône: Domaine Belle, Crozes-Hermitage

With their new-ish winery built in the village of Larnage, this very northern Rhone Valley producer (mostly Syrah and Syrah...) has slowly expanded over the years to 25 hectares (62 acres) of different vineyard parcels spread around several villages in the Crozes, Hermitage and St. Joseph appellations. Philippe Belle has been running the show for over 10 years now, and helped his father Albert shape the piecemeal whole into a fully fledged estate winery in the 90s.
www.domainebelle.com or via specialist exporter A Wine to Try.

Les Pierrelles 2011 Crozes-Hermitage (100% Syrah from specific vineyards in the village areas of Pont d’Isère and Mercurol, aged for 14 months in barrels) - hints of spicy vanilla oak on a structured backdrop, the fruit was a little overrun by the wood at that time perhaps, but the wine's got nice depth and mouth weight; probably just needed more time to round out fully.
Hermitage 2011 red (100% Syrah from Tain l’Hermitage from the 'lieu-dit' les Murets, aged 2+ years in barrels - 70% new oak) - pretty oaky too with big extracted yet concentrated mouth-feel, alluring dark and spicy Syrah fruit underneath (black cherry, damson and white pepper...); still rather youthful I think, should turn out pretty good in a few years...

22 January 2013

Rhône: Cave de Tain: big co-ops part 1

The sizeable Cave de Tain l'Hermitage co-operative winery dominates the 'big-boy' field in the northern Rhône Valley, although that's not necessarily a bad thing at all when you taste right across their varied range (or even just drink a glass or two of one of them, of course); including a rare back-cellar of some excellent older vintages too (e.g. 1990 red noted at bottom of page), if you're lucky enough to get the chance. I wouldn't be the first or last one to say that they almost always make very reliable Crozes-Hermitage red, which is nicely representative of pure tasty fruity spicy Syrah (all their reds are 100% sexy Syrah) and widely imported under many own-labels into many countries (see web link below photo for more info). Or white Crozes for that matter: as you'll see here, Cave de Tain's white wines, and northern Rhône whites in general other than that trophy-hunter wine Condrieu perhaps (and I can see why), are sometimes overlooked but definitely worth a look (although not always all of them...)

Steep Syrah steps from www.cavedetain.com
A few quick facts & figures might help set the scene here, although I'm not going to rehash everything on their site. The co-op growers' total wine-lands come to over 1000 ha (about 2500 acres; told you they were 'big'), and they do own vineyards in certain top sites especially the Hermitage, Cornas and Saint Joseph cru appellations. These growers are backed up by the usual, and essential, modern winery operation with a solid team of winemakers, marketeers, sales people etc. Something worth pointing out in particular is Cave de Tain's recently restored estate and property, Le Fief de Gambert de Loche, found among precious Hermitage hillside vine-land. This has become a kind of wine tourism centre focusing on the area's history and the Syrah variety, and regular tutored tasting events can be booked and are held in situ. If you're planning on staying around here, two co-op grower families have holiday accommodation available: again check out the CdT site.
I sampled these wines with the export manager on their UK importer's stand, Boutinot Wines, at the London International Wine Fair last year (yet more forgotten-about notes, still worth resurrecting though). Prices are in euros per bottle for cases of six bought on-line, to give you an idea.

White - all 100% Marsanne

2011 Marsanne - attractive yeast-lees notes with white peach fruit, honeyed and creamy too vs crisp mouth-feel with the odd aniseed flavour. Nice style and good value. €3.50
2010 Crozes-Hermitage - similar characters to above although quite closed up when I tried it, probably more intense yet seems to fall a little flat in the end? €7.90
2003 Hermitage - rich colour and oxidized nutty nose, toasted hazelnut notes, rounded and buttery vs mineral tones, surprisingly complex and alive still underneath all those lovely developed flavours (03 was a very hot vintage). About €25?
2008 Hermitage Au Coeur des Siecles (selected from two 100 year-old vineyards) - nutty maturing nose/palate vs fresh mouth-feel underneath, buttery and toasty vs crisp mineral and classy. Serious foodie. €30

Red

2010 Syrah - nice simple aromatic peppery style, light easy and tasty. €3.50
2009 St-Joseph - aromatic perfumed Syrah with spicy black cherry, firm vs ripe mouth-feel, nice balance and style with enticing lingering minty fruit. About €10.
2010 Crozes-Hermitage - floral spicy typical young Syrah nose, firm and tangy vs delicious simple fruit. €7.90
2009 Les Hauts de Fief Crozes-Hermitage (plot selection) - a bit heavy on the pencil-shaving / coconut oak, although has lively fruit too; solid vs maturing tones, concentrated but a touch samey on the winemaking front. €11.80
2007 Cornas Arenes Sauvages - smoky maturing meaty nose with peppery tones, still structured vs nicely maturing, has power weight and grip vs lovely fruit. Great stuff. €22
2009 Hermitage - touches of oak on the nose, quite closed up and firm still vs lots of ripe dark fruit lurking in there; punchy on its tight taut finish, not expressing itself so well at the moment but has great potential. About €25.
1990 Hermitage - a classic vintage in the Rhone, north and south from memory. Complex leather and tobacco notes, meaty vs dried dark 'sweet' fruit, still has plenty of substance vs developing savoury fruit; firm vs rounded mouth-feel on its long tasty classy finish. Wow. Yum.

More Crozes et al on this blog:
Wine touring feature here (2007 road-trip).

Southern French reds @ Marks & Spencer's (Nov 2011).


Big French co-ops part 2 to follow soon on www.winewriting.com:

10 November 2011

Southern French reds @ Marks & Spencer's

Half-a-dozen new releases or new vintages of old M&S favourite reds gleaned from a sweeping swathe of the big south, taking in the Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence and Rhone Valley and all sampled and savoured at their recent London tasting (nice newish HQ building by the way).

2010 Old Vines Grenache Noir, Roussillon - Vindivin (14% alc.): sexy ripe sweet juicy Grenache nose and palate, soft liquorice vs peppery punchy side, lush mouth-feel with a bit of grip vs pure fruity pleasure. £6.99
2008 Cuvée Extrême, Côtes du Roussillon Villages - Vignerons Catalans (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan; 14.5%): spicy vs maturing nose, quite rich and big with a touch of 'old wood' grain, powerful and grippy vs sweet / spicy fruit finishing with meaty edges too. That 14.5 alc. is a little hot but this has plenty of flavour to counter it! £9.99 150 stores.
Profile and Catalan wines tasted previously.
2007 L'Etoile de Romanin, Les Baux de Provence - Château Romanin (Mourvèdre, Cabernet, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault; 14%): interesting cocktail of varieties conjuring up a seductive smoky nose and palate, liquorice vs cassis fruit and savoury meaty and black olive tones as well; grip and power vs concentrated mouth-feel, attractive raisin vs olive flavours, lovely style balance and class. Dear though at £13.99 (150 stores), which is pretty typical of rich men's club and small production Baux de Provence. They sell most of it to well-off Parisians with holiday villas in twee places like St. Rémy de Provence. Jealous, moi...
2009 Crozes-Hermitage, northern Rhône - Domaine Collonge (actually made by Philippe and Vincent Jaboulet; 100% Syrah, 13% alc.): quite closed up on the nose, leads on to delicious Syrah spice style with dark cherry fruit and meaty edges, concentrated with dry grip vs lovely white peppery and fruity finish, rounded vs lively; well-balanced and classy. £12.99 in 150 stores.
2009 Saint-Josephnorthern Rhône - Cave de St-Désirat (100% Syrah, 12.5%): quirkier herbal-leaning nose moving on to lusher mouth-feel with dark vs savoury profile, chunky and more structured vs sweet peppery fruit then maturing meaty notes; much firmer finish than above but still good. £12.99 80 stores.
2009 Fitou Reserve, Languedoc - Château de Montmal / Cave de Mont Tauch (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan; 13.5%): nice spicy black cherry and sweet liquorice vs smoky tobacco and volatile balsamic notes; powerful solid palate with tasty concentrated fruit, lush and lively with ripe maturing finish. Well-made attractive chunky style although very much a special-occasion red at the price: £12.99 on-line only.

Click here and here for a couple of M&S southern French whites. And here for a couple of hearty Australian "reds of the mo" from Rhone / Med grape varieties...

'RED'

'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

Name

Email *

Message *