"Buy my book about the Roussillon on Amazon UK in paperback or eBook or black & white version, and Amazon USA: paperback or eBook or black & white. OR BUY IT DIRECT FROM ME (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap on the link above the cover photo (below right)." Richard Mark James

28 February 2006

Montpellier: Vinisud 2006

Comments and hot tips below from the trade showcase for Mediterranean wines, which took Montpellier by storm, in the most constructive sense of the expression. Unfortunate use of words perhaps, in light of recent isolated desperate acts (opens a story on Decanter.com). It's an event such as Vinisud and participants that successfully demonstrates the future path for wine in the South, not smashing things up (even if difficult not to sympathise with stranded growers asking for more help from a distant Paris): I'll leave further comments on this to Vitisphere.com (goes to related piece). Featured estates below: Daumas Gassac - La Sauvageonne - L’Euzière - Anger - Grézan - Champart - Paul Mas - Matassa - Força Réal - Crus pour Joie (Corbières).

Mas de Daumas Gassac
Still the legend of the south? MDG was one of the first to make top quality Vins de Pays in the Languedoc from a mix of Mediterranean, Rhône and Bordeaux varieties. There are now more growers reaching a similar standard; but their wines remain classy and elegant including a back catalogue of older reds, which few others can match and shows how well they age. As for the high prices they command, well that's a different argument and MDG aren't lacking in customers!
2004 Eraus blanc (mostly Sauvignon Blanc) - quite concentrated with mineral intensity, not very Sauv Blanc but shows nice length and bite. 85

2005 MDG blanc - lively zesty fruit with oily depth v aromatic peachy notes, zingy and long. 89
2004 Guilhem rouge (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache & Carignan) - nice soft youthful black cherry and liquorice fruit with a bit of dry bite to finish. 85
2003 Elise rouge (Syrah & Merlot) - attractive smoky tobacco and dried fruit aromas & flavours, soft mouthfeel v grip of tannin, elegant yet powerful finish. 87-89
2004 MDG rouge (Cabernet Sauvignon + 15 varieties, barrel sample) - tight elegant blackcurrant and cherry fruit, nice tannin texture v fruit concentration on its subtle length. 90+
2003 MDG rouge - more open and rustic, ripe liquorice fruit with wild herb notes; richer than the 04 with attractive tannins, softer texture v weight on the finish. 92
2001 Cuvée Emile Peynaud (Cabernet Sauvignon from selected parcels) - quite oaky nose yet shows developed fruit underneath, grippy powerful palate, the oak's still a little strong but it's also concentrated and richly textured. 90+
Tasted at the estate 13/3/05:
2005 MDG blanc - tight and crisp yet lively and intense: this offers perfumed apricot and peach fruit on a zingy palate, underpinned by a touch of yeast lees and very light toast adding complexity, length and richness. 87-89

2003 MDG rouge - lovely ripe smoky cassis and black cherry fruit with notes of leather, has softness v dry grip in the mouth with light creamy oak coating; quite elegant actually for this hot vintage, complex finish. 90-92
1995 MDG rouge - had been open for a few days so a bit oxidised; however, it displayed complex herbal v figgy flavours and again that perfumed leather edge, still quite firm and lively with maturing fruit on the finish. 92-94
Updated August 2011.

La Sauvageonne
A new range of wines from this estate up in the rugged Coteaux du Languedoc hills purchased in 2001, with a resident English winemaker sourcing from vineyard parcels at different altitudes with very chunky soils.
2005 Sauvignon Blanc (+5% Muscat) - zingy green fruit set against ripe citrus, nice length and intensity. 85+
2005 Rosé - creamy red fruits v crisp long mouthfeel, nice style. 87
2004 Les Ruffes (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault & Carignan) - lovely youthful cherry, liquorice and menthol flavours; fruity v light grip, on the simpler side but nice finish. 85-87
2003 Pica Broca (Syrah & Grenache) - ripe fruit v firm texture, again has that attractive herby black cherry character, with fairly soft tannins on the finish. 87-89
2004 Pica Broca - spicier and more elegant than the 03, with soft tannins on the subtle finish. 89
2004 Puech de Glen (mostly Syrah + Grenache) - rather closed, tight and unrevealing at the moment; however, has attractive fruit underneath and elegant length. 89+

Château L’Euzière
Brother and sister Michel and Marcelle Causse run this scenic property near Fontanès in the Pic Saint-Loup region, north of Montpellier. One to watch...
2005 Grains de Lune
, Coteaux du Languedoc blanc (Roussanne, Vermentino & Grenache blanc) - nice and juicy with complex yeast lees edges, crisp bite and length. 87-89

2004 L'Almandin, Pic St-Loup (Syrah, Grenache & Mourvèdre) - intricate rustic notes mingle with black fruits, nice firm grip yet elegant and spicy; young (just bottled in fact) showing potential. 89+
2004 Les Escarboucles, Pic St-Loup (Syrah, Grenache & Mourvèdre) - closed and oaky on the nose, solid structure with nice texture, fruit and concentration; also needs time to express itself. 89-91

Domaine Anger
Laurent Anger is a leading grower in the Minervois La Livinière subzone.
2001 La Chapelle de Calamiac (100% Syrah) - intriguing flavours of lovely ripe smoky liquorice fruit and leather notes, soft long finish. 92-94
2001 Château Anger la Croix de St-Bénoit - herbier with more aromatic black cherry fruit, again elegant and ripe, smoky and long. 92-94

Château de Grézan
This extraordinary walled-castle estate (think Knights Templar meets Disney) makes a fairly large (perhaps too, given some of the variation here) range of traditional Faugères reds and charming varietal white wines.
2004 Commanderie de St-Jean Chardonnay - nice clean citrus and peach style, soft juicy palate with a little freshness on the finish. 85-87

2005 Commanderie de St-Jean Viognier - subtle yet lively apricot, herb and mineral flavours, weighty extract v quite crisp and fresh. 89+
2004 Commanderie St-Jean barrique Chardonnay - nice creamy, fairly fat fruit set against yeasty bite and intensity; well handled oak. 89
2003 Château de Laurens Faugères (this and below variations on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre & Cinsault) - ripe spicy developing nose, nice balance of grip and fruit with good length. 87-89
2003 Château de Grézan Cuvée Arnaud Faugères - less open and seductive, mintier too; structured yet round tannins, the fruit's not coming through at the moment but this is designed for ageing. 87-89
2003 Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Faugères (Grenache & Carignan) - firmer and stockier, light oak coating wraps up a concentrated grippy palate; needs a couple of years at least. 88-90
2001 Les Schistes Dorés (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) - richer and more concentrated, mint and chocolate underneath black cherry fruit, very firm and powerful yet shows sweetness and roundness too. 89-91

Mas Champart
Isabelle and Matthieu Champart's lovely reds have long been among my favourite St-Chinian wines, especially their Mourvèdre heavy Clos Simonette.
2004 St-Chinian blanc
(Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache blanc & Bourboulenc) - fresh and exotic fruit then turns zesty and mineral, nice clean elegant finish. 85+

2003 Côte d'Arbo St-Chinian (Syrah, Grenache & Carignan) - wild and spicy with attractive pure fruit, quite elegant with ripe soft-ish finish. 87-89
2003 Causse du Bousquet (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache & Carignan) - more liquorice and black cherry, again shows softness v concentration, grip v elegance. 90
2003 Clos de la Simonette (70% Mourvèdre & Syrah) - firmer structure and style, again displays lovely fruit and rounded tannins. 90-92

Château de Lastours
I tasted cask samples of their promising 2004 vintage reds:
2004 Arnaud de Berre - lots of young spicy fruit, shows nice grip v softness and elegant length. 87+
2004 Simone Descamps - just a touch of wood adds choc and spice, displays intense ripe black fruits, more concentrated than the Berre with attractive soft texture, dry bite and length. 89-91

2004 Château de Lastours - a tad oakier but not much, lovely concentration set against structured mouthfeel, showing similar fruit style and elegance; will be super. 92-94
Mind you, this is what I thought of the above wine over a year later (April 2007):
Château de Lastours Réserve - ripe 'sweet' fruit leads to rather dry chocolate wood. Disappointing considering this was looking really good in barrel: left it too long? €17

Les Crus pour Joie
Fetching name for this recently formed, merry band of mostly young, small estates in wild Corbières country around the town of Lagrasse. Several delicious finds here.
2005 Domaine Baillat rosé (Syrah, Cinsault & Grenache) - very youthful, tight and steely with elegant zippy fruit. 85-87

2005 Clos d'Espinous rosé - juicier style than above, quite concentrated with tight, zesty and youthful finish. 85-87
2005 Château Roquenégade blanc (Roussanne & Grenache blanc) - quite fat and juicy set against mineral and herb edges, nice length and bite. 87+
2003 Domaine la Rune 'Pertho' (mostly Grenache) - lovely ripe Grenache fruit with smoky spicy liquorice notes, then elegant dry finish. 87-89
2003 Château Prieuré Borde-Rouge - ripe and spicy with wild flowers and black & red fruits, powerful finish yet light tannins. 89-90
2003 Château de Roquenégade rouge - also has very ripe fruit, more on the leather and chocolate side, firmer structure and power too. 89
2004 Domaine Baillat rouge - up-front black cherry and liquorice aromas lead to a firm and concentrated palate, young and closed but will be good. 89+
2005 Clos de l'Anhel 'les Terrasses' - concentrated and meaty, lots of depth and style, grippy tannins v ripe fruit; very promising. 90+
2003 Château Cascadais - slightly dusty wood on the nose but this shows nice depth of fruit, more trad and structured style yet good with it. 87

Domaine Força Réal
Jean-Paul Henriquès and his son Cyril have done sterling work restoring this spectacular estate up on a hill between Millas and Estagel, with distant views of Perpignan, the Mediterranean, Corbières hills and the Pyrenees.
2004 Mas de la Garrigue - nice ripe black fruits with earthy notes, soft palate with a touch of grip too. 87
2003 Domaine Força Réal - richer fruit than above, attractive depth and stylish finish. 89-91
2003 Les Hauts de Força Réal - chocolate oak aromas lead to rich wild fruits and lovely textured finish; needs a couple of years. 92-94

Domaine Matassa
Tom Lubbe and Sam Harrop's estate in the northern Roussillon/eastern Fenouillèdes area, where they're making some distinctive whites and an elegant, pure Grenache red.
2005 Matassa blanc (Muscat & Macabeu) - lively aromatic fruit with mineral edges, clean long and zesty palate. 87

2005 Viognier-Muscat - lovely aromatic apricot and white peach fruit, zesty citrus undertones with long bite and power on the finish. 89+
2004 Grenache Gris-Macabeu (white) - toasty and funky with similarly intense and pure length. 89

Domaines Paul Mas
A few new vintages and releases from Jean-Claude Mas and his go-getting team, including some unusual blends and the cross-breed red variety Marselan from recently purchased organic vineyards near Pézenas (Languedoc).
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

Search through the Roussillon winery A to Z (right) to find fuller profiles and updates on most of these producers and their more recent vintages etc.

30 January 2006

Millésime Bio 2006

The trophy winners of the Concours Signature Bio 2005 received their honours at Millésime Bio organic wine fair, held in Narbonne, on Tuesday 17th January. The competition included 210 wines made from organically grown grapes from the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions of Mediterranean France, assessed by a tasting panel headed by Marc Medevielle, editor of the magazine Terre de Vins. Gold medal winning Domaine de la Grande Pallière, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2004 was singled out. Other golds from Provence embraced two reds from top biodynamic estate Château Romanin in the tiny AOC Les Baux de Provence, 2004 white and rosé from Domaine du Jas d’Esclans, Domaine des Beynes’ 2004 Chardonnay and the Domaine Terres Blanches Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Blanc 2004.
Languedoc-Roussillon gold medals went to Château des Auzines Corbières Hautes Terres Rouge 2003, Coteaux du Languedoc Cuvée des Pères red 2001 from Vignobles Montfreux de Fages, two Rivesaltes fortified wines made by Jean-Luc and Josiane Pujol at Domaine La Rourède and Domaine Joliette’s oak aged white vin de pays Côtes Catalanes 2003. Full results on www.millesime-bio.com. South of France growers had a strong presence at the show – Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and Corsica account for 53% of the surface area of French certified-organic vineyards – alongside a number of estates from Bordeaux and Rhône; Loire, Burgundy and Alsace; plus Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland. The most noticeable and ironic launch was from Domaine Siméoni in St-Chinian, a 100% old Carignan called ‘Vin de Crise, Le Robustoff’ classified as table wine.

Millésime Bio organic wine fair

"My pick of Millésime Bio organic wine fair 2006: twenty estates sampled and reviewed from the Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence and southern Rhone; plus 'a few facts and thoughts' on organics..."

This organic wine fair - strictly speaking wines made from organically grown grapes in Brussels speak - took place in Narbonne (Languedoc) on 16th-18th January 2006. Here's my pick of south-of-France, "new age" growers: star discoveries include Coston, Etoile du Matin, Siméoni, Traginer, Pech-Latt and Borie la Vitarele. You can also read this news item about the show. Organic: what and why? A few facts and thoughts...

"Organic doesn't necessarily mean guaranteed or better quality, but overall wine quality is now much higher than say ten years ago. Organic growers rightly claim it's more about a whole way of life, and there's no doubt that this philosophy coupled with fussy attention in the vineyard can produce superb grapes. Here are a few facts about certified organic status (said to be more strictly controlled than for regular AOC) to highlight the main points."

"The conversion period is three years so commitment and dedication are required, especially as the vines are probably more vulnerable during this transition stage. No synthetic chemicals or fertilisers are used in the vineyard, but "natural chemical" substances such as copper sulphate solution (against mildew) and sulphur dioxide (a preservative amongst other uses) are permitted. However, max levels of SO2 in winemaking are sometimes half that for non-organic (although not always). The idea is to foster living soil, biodiversity in the vineyard and hence naturally healthy vines. It goes without saying that genetically engineered vines and winemaking products, such as GM yeast, are not tolerated. Some organic winemakers might use standard commercial yeasts if necessary; but e.g. full-Monty biodynamic growers wouldn't normally add them, as indigenous yeasts on the grapes are considered part of the terroir. The whole philosophy often carries through down the line, in terms of managing winery waste, water supplies, carbon emissions, packaging etc. At the end of the day, it doesn't make a lot of sense to go on about the importance of terroir, yet systematically destroy it with potent chemicals!"

Domaine Coston
2003 Coteaux du Languedoc (Syrah, Grenache & Carignan) - lovely herbal spicy blackberry fruit, turning earthy with liquorice notes; quite tight fresh palate, showing grip and elegance with mint and black cherry on the length. 89+
2003 Coteaux du Languedoc, Les Garigoles (Syrah & Grenache) - more complex and spicier than above, rich liquorice and hints of leather then tight firm mouth-feel, very light oak on top of ripe perfumed fruit, powerful framework yet balanced. 90-92
2005 Coteaux du Languedoc blanc (Grenache Blanc & Roussanne) - quite rich mealy and aromatic, citrus peel notes set against very light toast, apricot and cream; good mineral bite and length. 87-89

Château de L'Ou
2002 L'Harmonie (Syrah, Grenache & Carignan) - soft and forward, mature fruit set against more structured finish; good for 2002. 85+
2005 Côtes du Roussillon (from barrique) (Syrah & Grenache) - shows lovely depth of black fruits and spices, long elegant finish; promising. 87-90

Domaine des Auzines
2005 Corbières blanc - (Grenache Gris & Grenache Blanc) - displays good balance of lightly toasty oak, creaminess and citrus fruit; should be interesting after a few months in bottle. 85-87
2004 Cuvée des Roches - somewhat oak dominated at the moment, but this is rich and structured with attractive grip and length; shows promise. 88-90

Domaine Cazes
2003 Credo, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot - a touch of oak but not too much, firm yet ripe palate, tight elegant finish; needs a couple of years to shine. 87
2003 Rivesaltes Grenat, Vin Doux Naturel - lively liquorice Grenache flavours, sweet berry fruit with notes of leather, good bite and grip maintain the balance. 87-89

Domaine Malavieille
2003 La Boutine, Vin de Pays (Chenin Blanc) - Savennières style (fine dry oak aged white from the Loire): rich and mealy, rounded oily melon fruit followed by  a touch of fresh acidity on the finish. 87-89
2003 Alliance, Coteaux du Languedoc (Syrah, Mourvèdre & Grenache) - quite rich and peppery, still young and tight on the palate; should develop and round out in 1-2 years. 87-89

Domaine l'Etoile du Matin
2004 Corbières (Syrah & Grenache) - attractive ripe v savoury fruit, black cherry v leather; quite concentrated and powerful with lingering black olive character. 87-89
2004 Etoile du Matin (Grenache) - they only made 300 bottles of this peppery rustic pure Grenache, lots of rich dark fruits with firm tannins yet ripe rounded finish; wow! 90-92

Domaine Borie la Vitarele
2004 Saint-Chinian Terres Blanches (Syrah & Grenache) - attractive smoky peppery nose paves the way to a firm concentrated palate, closes up a little on the finish but it's still young. 87-89
2003 Saint-Chinian Les Schistes - grippier and weightier than above, lovely pure fruit underneath, firm long finish. 89-91

Château de Caraguilhes
2005 Corbières rosé - very appealing strawberry fruit and weight, then fresh crisp and long. 87+
2004 Corbières rouge - nice depth of youthful cherry fruit with tobacco edges, well handled tannins on the finish. 88-90

Château Pech-Latt
2003 Corbières vieilles vignes (Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre & Syrah) - concentrated with firm tannins set against attractive tobacco and plum fruit; needs a few months to open up. 87-89
2004 Corbières Alix - ripe and silky liquorice and herb flavours build to dry grip and elegant length. 89-91

Domaine du Traginer
2003 Collioure (Syrah, Grenache & Mourvèdre) - lovely pure floral Syrah style backed up by richer liquorice fruit, effortlessly moving on to grip, power and elegance on the finish. 90+
2003 Cuvée du Capitas - rich black fruits and olive with nice peppery undertones, leading to a firmer tighter palate with more finesse. 90-92
2003 Banyuls mise tardive - turning brown with maturing raisin fruit, very rich mouthful balanced by lovely bite and length. 90

Domaine Siméoni
2005 Mourvèdre rosé (vat sample) - tight zingy and elegant v weighty, lots of underlying fruit waiting to leap out. 87
2004 Mourvèdre - youthful black cherry fruit with earthy peppery notes, nice olive fruit and grip on the finish. 87
2004 Saint-Chinian la Toure - quite rich and chunky, pretty firm at the moment yet concentrated with long spicy floral black cherry finish. 89-91
2004 Saint-Chinian l'Ame des Schistes (Syrah & Mourvèdre) - very firm and concentrated, again offers lovely spicy floral fruit. 90-92
La Tete a l'Envers (100% Syrah) - peppery violet fruit, lovely 'modern' style with elegance and length. 88-90

Château Sainte Anne
2003 Bandol Collection - plenty of rustic black cherry/olive fruit, concentrated and grippy; very young at the moment, has a bright future. 90-92
1993 Bandol Collection - mature rustic nose with dried fruits and liquorice, complex and minty, still has some dry grip yet soft and round on the finish. 92-94

More Sainte Anne wines on the Bandol/Mourvedre page in the archive, right.

Domaine de la Courtade
2003 Courtade blanc, Côtes de Provence (Rolle) - very creamy with yeast lees edges, rich and complex. 87-90
2003 Courtade rouge, Côtes de Provence (mostly Mourvèdre) - subtle, tight and peppery fruit with leather notes, attractive grip and finish. 87

Domaine de Mayrac
2003 Vin de Pays tradition (Cabernet Franc & Syrah) - soft ripe mouthful leads to a touch of grip and tangy berry fruit. 87
Blanquette de Limoux - quite fine and elegant sparkler, lightly yeasty with crisp finish. 85-87

Domaine Raymond Roque
2004 Faugères - soft and ripe with raspberry and liquorice, good fruit and tannin extract yet elegant and light. 87
2003 Faugères Nature - fuller than above with spicy ripe cassis and tobacco notes; firmer finish, more powerful too yet still elegant. 89

Domaine Delmas
Crémant de Limoux - quite intense appley fruit with fresh bite and stylish finish. 87
2002 Limoux Haute-Vallée (Chardonnay) - fairly toasty fruit balanced by yeast lees richness and complexity, fresh acidity and length. 87-89

Domaine Rouaud
2005 Muscat sec Frivole - lively pure fruit flavours, tight zesty palate yet fuller bodied than usual for this style (50% of the wine sees barrique). 89
2004 Grenache - shows attractive ripe fruit and liquorice Grenache style, soft yet powerful too. 87+
Domaine Traslepuy
2004 Côtes du Rhône - appealing chunky spicy fruit, good balance of tannin, ripeness and elegance. 87
2004 Lirac - greater depth and firmer mouthfeel, attractive 'sweet' Grenache fruit and power; nice classic style. 90

Domaine Jorel
2004 Grenache Pétaillat - rich and structured with sumptuous dark prune fruit; needs 6-12 months to unfold. 90
Maury Vin Doux Naturel - bitter chocolate v blackberry/cherry sweetness, tempered by youthful dry tannins. 89

Domaines de Petit Roubié
2005 Marsanne - characterful waxy honeysuckle fruit, nice fresh bite v yeast lees intensity. 87
2004 Picpoul de Pinet - lovely concentrated zesty gummy fruit balanced by crisp acidity and fine length. 90

Latest on most of the above estates can be found by searching through the winery A to Z on the right.

11 November 2005

A breath of fresh air in Bordeaux?

Jean-Christophe Mau, fussy sorter
Eighteen bright ‘young guns’ have formed a new producers’ association and launched their promotional campaign for the UK, called Bordeaux Oxygène. What is particularly noticeable and novel for Bordeaux is that it’s not obviously based on an elitist hierarchy or specific appellations. It does include top-ranked Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé estates such as Angélus and Beau-Séjour Bécot, but there are also Châteaux from Côtes de Francs – Marsau owned by Dourthe – Thibault Despagne’s Tour de Mirambeau Bordeaux Supérieur and Ch. Preuillac (Médoc) and Ch. Brown (Pessac-Léognan), both represented by Jean-Christophe Mau. They are all youthful and enthusiastic – Mau joked he is the oldest (I don't know how old he is but younger than me probably!) – although perhaps not lacking in funds. The group also includes the daughters of Michel Rolland (Stéphanie Rolland-Lesage at Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol) and the owners of Smith Haut-Lafitte (Alice Cathiard-Tourbier); and Mathieu Chadronnier, son of Dourthe boss Jean-Marie. Bordeaux Oxygène’s president Benoit Trocard, of Clos Dubreuil in Saint-Emilion, commented: “A revolution in Bordeaux isn’t possible. Our parents and ancestors worked and achieved things for Bordeaux; it’s our turn to get out there, head on with the competition from top wines that aren’t necessarily from Bordeaux.” Their initial focus is Europe and in particular the UK, Switzerland and Belgium with plans to hold targeted tastings this winter and next spring - “to get moving, keep moving, not wait,” as vice-president Jean-Christophe Mau put it.

For further details try contacting the elected secretary Sylvie Courselle at Château Thieuley (Bordeaux Supérieur). The other producers involved are: Malartic-Lagravière (Pessac-Léognan); Clos du Clocher, Château Rouget (Pomerol); Clos Fourtet, Grand Mayne (Saint-Emilion); Château Brillette (Moulis); La Lagune, Loudenne (Médoc); and Ch. Nairac (Sauternes). Let’s hope they don’t shorten Bordeaux Oxygène to its initials for English speaking countries, as they had in the original press file…
A version of this story appeared in the UK trade paper Off Licence News, 11th November 2005. Tasting feature from the same trip here: Pessac-Léognan, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol

01 November 2005

Spain: Castillo de Perelada, Cava / Empordà-Costa Brava

Castillo de Perelada: Cava / Empordà-Costa Brava
Empordà-Costa Brava is a small wine region in the northeast corner of Catalonia, in the heart of which you'll find the attractive town of Peralada (Catalan spelling) not too far from Figueres, home of the magnificent eggs-and-baguettes Dalí museum. You can visit the old Castillo de Perelada cellars, where they still age their top of the range wines, but the main winemaking facilities are in Girona and Villafranca. They also have a nice wine shop and café, so you can stock up after a guided tour and posh lunch in the casino, or inexpensive one at the restaurant in the square across the road! I think they're producing some of the finest Cavas you'll find anywhere, as well as a good range of reds, whites and rosés. Tasted Sept-Nov 2005:

Cava Brut Reserva non-vintage (NV) (Macabeu Parellada Xarello) - Subtle floral almond biscuit aromas, more chocolatey on the palate with crisp dry and tight length. Nice with chocolate and coconut sponge. €4 88
 Cava Brut Rosado NV (Monastrell Garnacha) - Deliciously frothy summer fruit cocktail, leading to fresh choco-nutty off-dry finish. €4.50 90
2002 Cava Brut Nature (Macabeu Parellada Xarello) - You'll think it's Champagne: really quite refined with subtle intensity of yeasty oily almond flavours, crisp elegant length and very dry refreshing finish. About €6-7 a bottle! 90+
 2004 Blanc de Blancs (Garnacha Blanca Macabeu Chardonnay 12.5%) - Offers good depth of nutty and oily fruit v zesty citrus edge; aromatic start then fills out on the palate to more buttery and peachy, yet finishes crisp and long. Bargain at €3.  87
 Blanc Pescador Vino de Aguja NV (11.5%) - Refreshingly unusual dry white showing crisp yeasty gummy fruit with nutty mineral notes, slightly sparkling too with light elegant finish. Seafood delight. 85
2004 Rosado (Cariñena Garnacha Tempranillo 13%) - Quite fine rosé showing lovely raspberry and rose petal aromas, medium-full weight of fruit finishing more elegant, crisp and dry. About €3 87
2002 Tinto Crianza (Garnacha Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 13%) - Try with smoked bacon and spinach pasta: developing smoky leather notes underneath a savoury damson and raisin heart, medium-full in the mouth with dry grip and a vanilla-oak coating. €4 87

Latest Perelada wines here (Spanish "wines of the moment") and here (Cava guide).


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