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Showing posts with label southern Rhone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label southern Rhone. Show all posts

10 February 2015

Rhone "reds of the moment": Rasteau & Lirac

The large-flavoured 2010 is the latest vintage release of Cave de Rasteau's 'premium' red called 'Les Hauts du Village', which, even if you only do a soupçon of French, is indeed "what it says on the label," a selected 'GSM' blend sourced from old vines on certain high-ground sites around Rasteau. It also differs from their other reds being about one third each of these varieties, with a higher proportion of Mourvèdre as opposed to the usual majority Grenache set-up. You'll find more words about this exciting co-op winery (90 this year by the way) and their other wines HERE, HERE and HERE.
Rasteau Les Hauts du Village 2010 - Mourvèdre 35%, Grenache 35%, Syrah 30% (just the Syrah aged in cask for a year), 14.5% abv. Earthy punchy nose layered with blackberry, black cherry and black olive too, peppery with savoury edges; fairly serious tannins vs lush dark fruit and spicy punchy finish, dry bitter twist balanced by lovely fruit and nice maturing 'tobacco' notes. Wow. After two days open (my old favourite test for big reds): more savoury and black olive on the nose and palate with lingering sweet vs spicy liquorice fruit, the tannins were a little rounder too. Predictably it's one of their dearer wines: €14.40 cellar door, £15.95 Hercules Wine Warehouse (UK), €20.49 O'Brien's (Ireland), $29.99 The Wine Merchant Cincinnati, $20-22 (plus tax) Total Wine & More.

From vignobles-alain-jaume.com
Alain Jaume & Fils doesn't do the southern Rhone Valley lightly, since the family owns vineyards in Vacqueyras, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Lirac with their winery base in Orange. It's the latter appellation I'm focusing on here, which sits waving at its grander neighbour over the other side of the Rhone and is decked out with the same old big stones and all that jazz. Clos de Sixte is an organically farmed vineyard located in this area and home to the rock n' roll 'GSM' blend I've reviewed below. Click on the web address under the photo for more info.
Lirac 2012 Domaine du Clos de Sixte (15% abv) - Grenache 50%, Syrah 35%, Mourvèdre 15%, and 30% of the wine is aged in cask for 14 months. Delicious bold red with bags of rich peppery black fruits and liquorice, a powerful mouthful yet concentrated and surprisingly balanced actually, fairly soft tannins and complex lingering sweet vs savoury flavours on its big finish. It's actually dearer than some CndPs, although stacks up well flavour-wise against serious examples from there: €13.20 cellar door, £17.50 Ellis Wharton, Wimbledon Wine (UK); €21.50 Mitchell & Sons (Dublin); $22-$28 B-21 Florida, MacArthur Beverages DC, Wine House CA, Total Wine & More and other stores around the US.

31 May 2014

Rhône: Domaine Brusset, Cairanne

Laurent Brusset's hillside vineyards are found around the old ring-walled village of Cairanne (about 20 km northwest of Orange, not far from Rasteau) and in the nearby 'Plan de Dieu' area (yes, it does mean something like "God's land"). Laurent has just stormed the 22nd 'Cuvée Alliance des Vignerons' competition with his red 2012 and white 2013 (the first time one winemaker has won both I'm told) picked from wines submitted by the 16 member wineries of the local Winegrowers' Association. Appropriately enough perhaps, without venturing too far into fact-geek territory, since Cairanne is one of the 16 'named' Côtes du Rhône Villages appellations. Laurent says his philosophy is "always trying to keep the wine's fruit." More info: www.domainebrusset.fr

2012 Les Chabriles vieilles vignes red Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne (old vines: 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah; 40% of it aged in demi-muids; 14% abv) - aromatic and earthy blackberry, kirsch and cassis with peppery liquorice notes; full-bodied and quite punchy, concentrated and fruity with light touch of 'chalky' tannins and subtle dark chocolate bitter twist; warm and powerful with lovely vibrant dark fruit, spice and grip. Yum. £15 for the 2011, Big Red Wine Co (UK).
2013 Les Travers white (Grenache blanc, Viognier, Roussanne; 30% of it barrel-fermented with lees stirring; 13% abv) - yeast-lees and nutty edges with fresh vs baked pear fruit, subtle power, honeyed and white peach too vs aniseed tones and light coconut grain texture; almond flavours and rounded mouth-feel vs a more 'mineral' touch, lees and coconut tones too on the finish. Perhaps needs a few months in bottle to integrate more, good wine though. £12 for the 2012, Big Red Wine Co.

07 May 2014

Rhone: Rasteau and Loire: Quarts de Chaume

Or a couple of gratuitous red versus white "sweeties of the moment," which have nothing in common whatsoever but are both worth sipping and talking about. Let's start in the southern Rhone Valley with a 'port-style' speciality made by the co-op winery Cave de Rasteau, who are celebrating 70 years of the Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel (VDN, fortified sweet wine) appellation. To mark this, they've repackaged the bottles with a retro label (makes you think of those cute old French booze posters you still see around, occasionally, very much from the "drink this and live to 100" era of advertising, which is now considered on a par with terrorism in France), and you can get it as a gift pack in a nice tin cannister too (€19.50 cellar door). As for how it's made - the red at least, there's also a "golden" presumably 'tawny' style - crushed whole berries of old-vine Grenache are fermented on the skins with hand-plunging, then it's fortified and left to steep for longer before pressing and ageing in vats and large tuns. It has 16.5% abv and 90 g/l of natural residual sugar.
Rasteau rouge VDN - alluring nose/flavours of dried black fruits, kirsch, prune, stewed plum and liquorice with smoky tobacco edges; more savoury and meaty on the finish vs sweet baked fruits vs dark chocolate twist, some firm tannin and nice spicy oomph. Try with mature or blue cheeses, dark chocolate and choc nut desserts; or what about a fairly spicy lamb curry too?! Hercules Wines (UK) £10.95; O'Briens Ireland do the posher 'Signature' vintage red VDN for €19.49.

More Cave de Rasteau wines here: Rhône "reds of the moment" featuring their 2011 Ortas Tradition 'regular' red (posted July 13).
And another estate in Rasteau featured on this blog: Domaine Coteaux des Travers (posted June 12).

Also sweet - much sweeter probably - but 'lighter' too with only 11% abv, this classic luscious Chenin blanc from the Loire Valley is made from botrytis affected and/or shrivelled grapes ("depending on the vintage," as it says on their site) picked by hand passing through the vineyard three or four times. Try with fruit tarts (especially peach or apricot), a variety of cheeses (goats, blue, mature, soft, ewes...) or just pour a little over vanilla ice cream. It kept surprisingly well for two or three weeks in the fridge actually.
Domaine des Forges Quarts de Chaume 2007 - complex and everlasting nose of spiced honey, quince jam, dried apricot, sultanas etc. Lusciously sweet palate yet has nice fresh acidity underneath still and a certain lightness of touch, despite the intense honeyed fruit and long flavours/finish. James Nicholson sale price of about £14.50, usually twice that I think.

31 July 2013

Rhône: "reds of the moment" (and a Beaujolais)

Here's a handful of blockbuster reds (and a more elegant one) worth talking about that have crossed my dinner table (well, four-legged brasserie style zinc and chrome structure) in recent times, in gratuitous celebration of Grenache perhaps. Picked from the shelves of Lidl ('wine cellar' range, so not in all stores), Marks & Spencer and independent merchant Hercules Wine Warehouse.

There's something in the stones
you know: from rasteau.com
2011 Ortas Tradition Cave de Rasteau (Grenache 70%, Syrah 20%, Mourvèdre 10% - 14.5% abv) - nice aromatic sweet Grenache fruit, liquorice and violet too; relatively 'light'/elegant for hot Rasteau country (vintage 2011) yet still has plenty of oomph, as you'd expect, with a touch of bite/grip vs attractive perfumed fruit and an earthier black olive side; ripe/spicy liquorice flavours with weighty yet tight finish and light bitter twist of tannin. €7.70 cellar door, £9.50 Hercules Wine Warehouse Kent (for the 2010).
2011 Vacqueyras (13.5% abv) - attractive ripe Grenache fruit on the nose, sweet berry and liquorice vs spicy earthy edges; firm yet rounded and powerful mouth-feel although tighter and less full-on on the finish than you'd expect perhaps (again 11 vintage, no bad thing though); well-balanced too with dry vs sweet profile and that smooth fruit hiding the alcohol. Maybe not the most super-dooper example, but fairly good value for £7.99 at Lidl.
2010 Domaine de la Curnière Vacqueyras Vignerons de Caractère (Grenache, Syrah - 15% abv) - the nose was a tad 'dirty' when I first opened it, but this smell had gone when I tried it again the second day. Bags of ripe sweet Grenache fruit for sure, spices and liquorice, earthy and savoury too and very punchy; the alcohol's a bit out of balance making the wine somewhat clunky and clumsy in the end, shame as it's got character, just like the winemakers! £11.99 M&S (I got it for less than a tenner though on offer about six months ago).
2011 Fleurie - appealing violet and grapey/cherry fruit, has a hint of grip vs soft fruit and refreshing acidity too; firm-ish and fresh palate vs soft sweet berry fruit, has fair depth too. Nice style, proper Beaujolais! £6.99 Lidl

24 April 2013

Southern Rhône: Domaine de Dionysos, Uchaux

Apparently this vineyard goes back to the 18th century, when the Farjon family left Marseille to escape the plague (rather than traffic or gangsters nowadays) and landed in Uchaux to the north of Orange. It was named 'Dionysos' in 1974 by Benjamin's grandfather, the latest generation to get stuck into the earth, in partnership with winegrower Dimitri Théodosiou who owns vineyards in the Visan area. The estate is now certified organic, and these two guys have recently turned their attentions to "working with biodynamics." Varieties planted are what you'd expect for this southern Rhône Valley region: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, "very old" Carignan and Viognier. Some of these wines are available in Ireland at Byrne hotels (three in Galway and one in Dublin) and Direct Wines/Laithwaite's in the UK (see £ below). Also sold "in the US and elsewhere in Europe" I was told: more @ domainededionysos.com.


2012 La Devèze Viognier - lovely perfumed honeyed apricot notes, juicy and rich palate with a bit of oomph (14% abv), attractive sunny style.
2012 La Devèze rosé Côtes du Rhône (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault) - juicy red fruits with oily/nutty edges, lively cherry fruit with nice bite on the finish.
2011 La Devèze red Côtes du Rhône (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan) - delicious 'sweet' liquorice and spice, soft and tasty palate, lovely easy-going style. £9.99 for the 2010 at Laithwaite's.
2011 La Cigalette Cairanne (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre mostly) - similar enticing Grenache-led profile with liquorice, ripe raspberry and peppery edges; more concentrated though with firmer mouth-feel and fairly powerful, but still drinking nicely now. £10.99 for the 2010 at Laithwaite's.
2012 Toute nue pour votre plaisir (Syrah with no added SO2 - nue meaning naked or bare) - lovely pure and spicy fruit, quite soft and layered with dark cherry Syrah fruit, bit of grip on the finish vs tasty and fruity.

26 March 2013

Rhône: Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine fair 6-7 April

This season-teasing Grenache-tastic wine event, called 'Les Printemps de Châteauneuf-du-Pape' ("Spring time for..." I won't carry on singing the words to this inappropriate number from a famous Mel Brooks' film, but that's the way my drifting mind works, especially as it's still winter here: answers on a postcard blah...), will feature over 80 estates and wineries and takes place on 6th and 7th April. Sounds like a good idea!
More info: lesprintempsdechateauneufdupape.fr
Recent Châteauneuf on this blog: World Grenache Competition part 2
La Célestière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
See side bar links for more.

01 March 2013

Southern Rhône: +50% Grenache half-dozen

Here's another gratuitous Grenache mini-feature, this time focusing on six or seven Grenache-laden reds (re)discovered at a tasting last year, although these vintages (2010 and 2009, both very good) are probably still on sale. I've picked out a few I thought were pretty typical of the kind of lush spicy sunshine red you'd expect and want from the southern Rhone valley, from widely available to 'specialist merchant' and costing £7 to £15 in the UK.

Les Dauphins Réserve 2010 Côtes du Rhône, Celliers des Dauphins (60% Grenache, 40% Syrah; 13.5% alc.) - nice juicy ripe sweet Grenache fruit with spicy cherry undertones, quite soft and easy-going, attractive style. £6.99 Dedicated Wines (widely available).
Belleruche 2010 Côtes du Rhône, M. Chapoutier (50 Grenache, 50 Syrah; 13.5% alc.) - well-known name and label, this is similar to the above wine although more extracted and firmer, yet layered with nice sweet fruit. £9.50 Mentzendorff.
Les Coteaux 2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Boutinot (85 Grenache, 15 Syrah; 14% alc.) - quite rich and spicy with lush liquorice and blackberry fruit, punchy and grippy palate vs plenty of lovely soft dark fruit. £8.90 Boutinot.
Réserve du Crouzau 2010 Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint Gervais, Vignobles Foncalieu (80 Grenache, 20 Syrah; 14.5% alc.) - attractive Grenache nose and palate, rich and ripe vs powerful and peppery, tasty sweet fruit vs grip on its weighty finish. £7.99 The City Beverage Company, Hennings Wine Merchants.
Vacqueyras 2010, Domaine de la Soleiade (55 Grenache, 45 Syrah) - more perfumed and minty even, black cherry and liquorice with smoky edges too, concentrated powerful and firm with delicious ripe fruit. £13.10 Charles Taylor.
Les Pierres du Vallat 2010 Gigondas, Vignerons de Caractère (60 Grenache, 30 Syrah, 10 Mourvèdre14.5% alc.) - showing similar wild herb/minty edges, gripping chunky and concentrated vs dark fruit and peppery tones, fair weight with attractive dry tannins vs sweet fruit finish. £14.50 Charles Taylor, €17.60 cellar door. Bottle shot copied from vigneronsdecaractere.com.
Les Plans 2010 Vin de Pays du Vaucluse, Domaine Santa Duc (50 Grenache, 25 Syrah, 15 Merlot, 10 Cabernet13.5% alc.) - meaty savoury notes, pretty solid chunky mouth-feel yet has nice 'sweet/savoury' fruit on the finish. £8.75 Bancroft Wines.

04 December 2012

Rhône: Ogier update, Côtes du Vivarais & Côtes du Rhône Villages

I knocked up a fairly detailed report on Ogier's turreted Châteauneuf-du-Pape operation back in July 2009 (you know what to do), including tasting a few vintages from their Clos de l'Oratoire estate and Les Chorégies, the 'special' cuvée they make as part of an opera-in-Orange sponsorship deal they're involved in. And I met their winemaker at another Rhone Valley property they own in summer 2010, called Notre Dame de Cousignac (goes to a feature on the southern Ardèche: scroll down to the Côtes du Vivarais section). Anyway, you'll find a mini-update below on the latest vintages of these Ardèche wines plus a rather good Côtes du Rhône Villages red. Ogier appears to have converted, or is in the process of, a substantial chunk of their Rhône Valley vineyards over to the organic way of things, which is, I believe, parent group Jeanjean's long-term strategy in the Languedoc and elsewhere too.

Notre Dame de Cousignac Côtes du Vivarais

2011 white (Marsanne, Clairette, Grenache blanc) - lively 'mineral' touches with aromatic cider notes vs more honeyed fruit too, zingy vs rounder texture to finish. Nice style.
2011 rosé (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault) - hints of yeast lees characters with crisp bite on the palate vs fuller red fruity style. Good.
2010 red (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) - lively berry fruits with spice and liquorice aromas/flavours, has a bit of grip and weight vs attractive spicy finish.

2010 Ogier Côtes du Rhône Villages - aromatic and spicy nose, 'sweet' fruit with meaty edges, peppery and punchy with nice grip and delicious fruit lingering. Very good.

More info @ www.ogier.fr

05 November 2012

Rhône: Clos de Caveau, Vacqueyras

Bungener family
with all-singing all-dancing dog.
Henri Bungener has been running his 12-hectare (30 acre) vineyard organically since 1989, which is located all in one secluded sheltered spot up in the hills on the wild-side slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail. You'll eventually find Clos de Caveau a couple of kilometres out of the little village of Vacqueyras (see closdecaveau.com for directions), which is about 25 miles north of Avignon and 15 miles east of Orange. And handily enough, they also own three different-sized holiday gites on or near the property if you fancy taking in a bit of fresh air and sunshine in the middle of Provencal nowhere. Henri's Vacqueyras reds are made from about two-thirds Grenache, one-third Syrah; and apparently are available in Switzerland, Germany, USA, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, China, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan. That's useful then!

2008 Fruit Sauvage (Grenache, Syrah) - perhaps a tad past it and lean but it does have hints of nice savoury vs 'sweet' fruit still lurking underneath. €6.30 ex-cellars.
2009 Carmin Brillant (Grenache, Syrah) - aromatic ripe fruity nose, very firm yet peppery and has good depth of fruit, a touch extracted though in the end perhaps. €8.70 ex-cellars.
2007 Lao Muse (Grenache, Syrah) - smoky notes with a hint of oak too, concentrated maturing fruit showing lovely 'sweet/savoury' style and peppery edges, firm and gutsy vs delicious fruit. €18 ex-cellars.

29 October 2012

Rhône: Ventoux, Clos de Trias & Marrenon

Two Ventoux producers for the price of one in fact, no relation (other than I tasted their wines at the London Wine Fair in a special Grenache-themed room) but it seemed like a good idea to combine them into a duet of Ventoux-tastic-ness. This wine region lies in the Vaucluse département to the east of the River Rhone and Avignon nudging up against that eponymous and somewhat awesome mountain...

Clos de Trias (above, shadowed by you know what: www.closdetrias.com)
Founded in 2007 (although the vines go way back) by Norwegian Even A. Bakke, who spent 14 years in the California wine business, and his French wife, Trias is now 25 ha (62 acres) lying at the foot of Mount Ventoux. I guess the name comes from the geological term Triassic (stifle that yawn please!), which is the era the soils around these parts date from, apparently. Grape-growing here is biodynamic with the philosophy and vineyards in the process of switching over to this way of life for good, man. 2008 was a tricky vintage in the region, which required a fair amount of sorting in the field and winery to pick out the best grapes. 2007 was a more successful year, and their old-vine red sampled here was made from selected 60+ year-old parcels called Champ Paga, L'Aube, Le Jas and Les Grand Terres (sic.), undergoing "a long maceration on the skins" and using "minimal sulphur dioxide."

2008 Clos de Trias (75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 8% Carignan, 2% Cinsault) - quite soft and 'light' (although still 14% alcohol) with enticing maturing aromas, has a bit of grip still vs nice 'sweet' fruit, developing tobacco/leather edges and a has wild herby side too; drinking well now. €4.50 ex-cellars.
2007 Clos de Trias vieilles vignes (96% Grenache, 4% Syrah; 14.5% alc.) - smoky maturing nose with liquorice vs tobacco edges, extracted firm and punchy palate vs lovely spicy 'sweet/savoury' fruit, big mouthful of flavour. €9.55 ex-cellars.

Marrenon
These guys are actually a 1200-grower strong co-operative set up over 40 years ago; the members' vineyards spread right across the Ventoux and Luberon wine regions with their winery, offices and posh-looking shop based in La Tour d’Aigues in the southeastern corner of the Vaucluse. So they obviously make a big range of wines, although, if this one is pretty typical, they deserve to be investigated further... www.marrenon.com.

2010 Ventoux Classique red (Grenache, Syrah) - vibrant ripe berry fruit, juicy 'sweet' and tasty palate with savoury and tobacco edges, quite elegant actually on the finish; very nice red.

25 October 2012

Rhône: Domaine de Mourchon, Séguret


Walter McKinlay and family bought Domaine de Mourchon and, at the time, its 17 hectares (42 acres) of old vines up on the stoney hillsides (at about 350 metres altitude) of the breathtakingly picturesque Les Dentelles de Montmirail in 1998. They immediately got to work on constructing a new winery, as the vine-land was previously owned by a co-op grower so there wasn't a cellar, in time for the following year's vintage. Being noticed by American wine critic Robert Parker, publisher of the Wine Advocate, among many others probably hasn't done them any harm, nor for the reputation of the relatively recent Côtes du Rhône Villages subzone of Séguret. This cute wee old village lies to the northeast of Avignon not far from Gigondas or Rasteau. The McKinlays also have a handsome-looking Provencal stone gite available for holiday rentals, standing right next to the cellar (handy for a little in situ sampling): see website link below. I actually went to the estate, on a day-tour of the lesser-known southern Rhone wilderness way back in 2003 (the year they purchased a few more vineyards in fact), and met Walter for the first time; and had the opportunity to catch up with him and taste his latest vintages and releases a few months ago at the London International Wine Fair. My thoughts back then (click here to read an article written at the time, scroll right down to the bottom almost) were probably on the lines of "quite good wines with much more potential," and trying them again nearly 10 years later confirmed that they do indeed merit the attention of our Rhone Valley tinged taste buds.
www.domainedemourchon.com

2011 La Source white Côtes du Rhône (35% Grenache blanc, 25% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne, 15% Viognier, 10% Clairette and Bourboulenc) - rich honeyed vs floral and mineral touches, full and rounded vs juicy and crisp, attractive style.
2011 Loubié rosé Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages (60% Grenache, 40% Syrah from 40 year-old vines) - attractive creamy red fruits vs juicy and crisp mouth-feel, very quaffable rosé and quite elegant actually.
2010 Côtes du Rhône red (60% Grenache, 40% Syrah from 40 year-old vines) - nice fruity juicy spicy style, hints of black cherry and liquorice with a bit of grip vs attractive peppery fruit underneath. €6.25 cellar door.
2009 Tradition Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages (65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Carignan from 40 year-old vines) - funky nose with rustic edges vs rich and dark side, pretty firm still vs lush mouth-feel and savoury flavours to finish.
2010 Grande Réserve Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages (65% Grenache, 35% Syrah from 60 year-old vines) - closed up on the nose to start, leads on to a very concentrated palate with solid structure, firm vs lush vs spicy finish; serious wine, closes up again on the finish but very promising.
2009 Family Reserve Syrah Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages (100% Syrah from 60 year-old vines) - pretty chocolate oaky to start with layered with thick texture of concentrated peppery black fruits, that oak blends in in the end thanks to its very rich vs solid framework. Wow.
2010 Family Reserve Grenache Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages (100% Grenache from 60 year-old vines) - not much on the nose initially, moving on to lovely pure peppery Grenache fruit, 'sweet' and lush vs punchy and firm-textured, again very concentrated. Wow-er.

13 October 2012

Rhône: La Célestière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

I couldn't find anything on their site (see link below photo, which I pinched from it) saying who owns La Célestière (I tasted the wines in London a few months ago and can't remember who was there pouring); but there might be a connection with quite well-known Chateau Dalmeran in Baux-de-Provence, as both ranges are sold in their on-line shop. Anyway, this 26-hectare property (65 acres), which has had some money spent on it by the looks, spreads over a few different parcels on the north, west and east sides of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, including a fair amount of 100+ year-old vines all farmed organically since 2010 (so another vintage to go before they get 'certified' and can call it "organic"). All their wines are created from mostly Grenache - I should hope so too - plus a splash of Mourvèdre and/or Syrah depending on which cuvée. I'll update this blurb when I find out where you can buy them.

La Célestière 2009 Tradition (15% alc.) - powerful nose with ripe juicy fruit and white pepper vs liquorice notes, same on the palate with punchy structured mouth-feel vs rich fruit then attractive bitter twist of tannin. €19
La Croze 2009 (selected vines planted around 1920) - lovely pure Grenache nose, big mouthful with grippy vs oily texture, powerful finish that closes up a little vs underlying concentration. Yum.
Les Domaines 2009 - coconut and vanilla oak tones, again it's big and concentrated with attractive liquorice and spice flavours; finishes a tad hot and bitter perhaps.

09 July 2012

Rhône: Palai Mignon, Tavel & Lirac

Tavel
www.vin-tavel.com

The compact neighbouring wine regions of Tavel and Lirac, known for their chunky rosés and reds based on Grenache, are classed under the Rhône Valley, which they are in lying just to the northwest of Avignon; although the village of Tavel, where this wee winery is found is actually in the Gard département in the Languedoc. A not particularly confusing fact though, nor terribly interesting and who gives a damn anyway, you may be tempted to add. The curiously named Palai Mignon (cute palace?) belongs to winegrower/maker Cyril Amido and comes to a slender three ha (7.5 acres) farmed organically - he set up this label in 2005 (having worked for the local co-op for years) and has been certified organic since the 2011 vintage. I couldn't find a website or blog but his email is cyril.amido@orange.fr, if you ever wanted to call in and taste sometime or find out where he sells his wines (outside of France), which are worth tracking down imho. I sampled these two tasty little numbers at Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier earlier this year:


2011 Tavel (mostly Grenache + Syrah, Clairette, Carignan) - rich colour and rounded full-bodied style rosé, nice lees edges and a touch of 'mineral' character somehow, although this isn't especially acidic with its fruity oily texture. Different, good with food I'd imagine.

2011 Lirac 'Caprice' (mostly Grenache + Syrah, Mourvèdre) - aromatic perfumed and spicy liquorice fruit, ripe and juicy palate with attractive tannins and 'sweet' fruit, quite elegant actually with subtle grip and weight to finish. Very good.

07 June 2012

Rhone: Domaine Coteaux des Travers, Rasteau


And not forgetting Cairanne too: they grow four ha (10 acres) of vines in that neighbouring village sub-appellation to Rasteau and ten in the perhaps now better-known latter (if you see what I mean), where they make regular reds and fortified Vin Doux Naturel reds both centered on sumptuous Grenache. The team here is headed up by Robert Charavin, whose family wine roots go back to the Revolution I'm told. They recently turned fully organic in 2010, the first "official" vintage tasting-noted below at this year's Millésime Bio wine show held in Montpellier, and have since set off down the more mystic path towards biodynamism. Two of these reds (not sure which two...) cost €10.80 a bottle cellar door; and this estate is well represented in North America, the UK and Ireland: see www.coteaux-des-travers.com for distributors and some nice photos as below.
2010 Cuvée Marine white Côtes du Rhône (Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Viognier) - nice oily honeyed nose and palate vs juicy fruit, quite soft and exotic vs light 'mineral' bite. Good stuff.
2010 Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah) - peppery vs liquorice aromas/flavours, again it's quite soft on the palate vs punchy spicy finish; a touch baked perhaps but has nice Grenache style.
2010 Rasteau Réserve (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) - spicy peppery nose, richer liquorice-tinged Grenache fruit in the mouth and more structured too vs nicely rounded tannins; firm vs peppery vs concentrated finish. Lovely hearty red typical of what you'd want from this area.
2010 Rasteau Prestige (Grenache, Syrah: older vines, fermented in large cone-shaped wooden vats) - tighter and more structured, peppery and punchy mouth-feel then closes up on the finish; needs a couple of years to come out of its shell. Should be very good though.

25 January 2012

Millésime Bio 2012

Just returned from a day-and-a-half tasting my way around what appears to have become the biggest organic wine show in the world, Millésime Bio in Montpellier (the Languedoc's finest/only city). But it's still a nice down-to-earth user-friendly fair though, like the growers and winemakers themselves who were there showing their wares on a simple table so you can easily talk and taste. No flash stands, corporate bull or "ah, you haven't made an appointment?" attitudes.
Anyway, expect plenty of new winery "profiles" (I'll drop the FBI gag this time... oops there I go again with that silly/sad sense of humour) and updates over the coming weeks, focusing on people and wines fresh from the Roussillon, Languedoc, southern Rhone, Bandol and Corsica...

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