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29 October 2008

Languedoc: Château Fauzan, Minervois

Château Fauzan

The following wine was one of my picks from a variety of producers tasted at the end of October 2008, during Les Grands Chemins "Rencontres en Minervois" (annual wine, food and arts festival centred on the broodingly Mediaeval village of Minerve and surrounding area - that link goes to the website), at the Chai de Port Minervois in Homps (wine shop & tastings).

2005 La Balme Minervois La Livinière (80% Syrah 20% Grenache) - lovely spicy menthol and very ripe black cherry fruit, liquorice v pepper on the palate; quite complex and tasty with soft v powerful v maturing finish. €8.60 88+

Languedoc: Claude Serra, Minervois

The following wine is one of my picks of a variety of producers tasted at the end of October 2008, during Les Grands Chemins "Rencontres en Minervois" (annual wine, food and arts festival centred on the broodingly Mediaeval village of Minerve and surrounding area - that link goes to the website), over a hearty lunch at the very recommended Restaurant - Hotel d'Alibert in Caunes-Minervois:

2003 Villa Serra Minervois rouge (Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan Cinsault 14%) - smoky peppery nose with dark black cherry and olive notes; 'sweet' v savoury palate, powerful and spicy v ripe and rounded. Nice with the duck and roasted veg but not the orange sauce, giving it a lightly bitter twist; but good wine though. 88+

28 October 2008

Languedoc: Paul Durand, vin de table

The following wine was one of my pick of a variety of producers tasted at the end of October 2008, during Les Grands Chemins "Rencontres en Minervois" (annual wine, food and arts festival centred on the broodingly Mediaeval village of Minerve and surrounding area - that link goes to the website); mostly over a meal at the restaurants specified below.
With lunch at Restaurant - Hotel d'Alibert, Caunes-Minervois:
2005 Paul Louis Eugène Vin de table blanc Paul Durand (Marsanne Sauvignon blanc 13.5%) - rule-breaking, quirky, slightly volatile style showing concentrated oily mouth-feel v fresh citrus and green fruits; you wouldn't think it was 3 years old with its nice weight and creamy texture v crisp bite. 88+

26 October 2008

Languedoc: Etoile du Matin, Corbières

Etoile du Matin

Geoffroy Marchand’s tiny domaine is organically grown ("if you can't here, where can you?"): his equally tiny cellar isn’t well-marked, although you should find it easily enough on the left just before the village of Feuilla; look out for the give-away wine-tractor or decorative Étoile du Matin boxes. Feuilla is the final frontier (derr dedd derr...) between Corbières, Fitou and Roussillon; and what a stunning setting too. I know I say that often enough, but you have to go there and you'll believe me! Geoffroy is one of an increasing number of young risk-taking growers either side of the Corbières, who’s crafting handmade, very natural and sometimes breathtaking wines (and sometimes a bit strange!): AOC, Vins de pays & table as fits his whim. He studied and worked in Burgundy, then a stint for the Roussillon’s one-and-only Hervé Bizeul, before settling here. His signature label (Syrah, Grenache and/or Carignan) is a wild-fruited powerful Corbières; there’s a peppery pure meaty Grenache rarity called Les Agnelles - actually, it’s got some Lladoner Pelut in it too, a disappearing Catalan variety thought to be related to Grenache (pelut means furry or pointy I think); and the 2006 was bottled without sulphur dioxide, something Geoffroy might continue to do depending on acidity levels etc. (starting with the 2007s) - and a slightly off-the-wall 100% Carignan. This estate should rapidly enter into every critic's Corbières top ten and is unquestionably one to keep an eye on. Tasted late October 2008:

2007 Védépé (2/3 Carignan, 13.5%) - still had a bit of a malo-lactic fermentation pong, but this went after a few days open (probably implying it will naturally after a few months in bottle: the 07s were only just bottled when I tried them and haven't been released yet). Moving on to nice depth of pure crunchy fruit, spicy and fresh mouth-feel with lively blueberry and black cherry finish. 87+
2007 Miss Tam Corbières (Syrah Carignan 13.5%) - similar slightly 'off' aromas at first, moving on to a more concentrated and powerful palate, again it has that hallmark purity and earthy spicy berry fruit; chocolate texture v lovely wild fruit v dry grip. Will be good. 89+
2006 Carignan - fragrant liquorice and wild herbs; crunchy v rich, powerful yet quite fine and long, refreshing fruit purity too. 90
2005 Carignan - developing smoky liquorice, lush peppery and concentrated mouth-feel, still firm tannins but beginning to melt with savoury/tobacco notes. Delicious. 90-92
2006 Les Agnelles (Grenache Lladoner Pelut) - very appealingliquorice and cinnamon with raspberry and blackberry; meaty tobacco edges to a grippier textured palate, again has delicious fruit on its long tasty finish, maturing yet very alive. 92+
2006 Patangame white (Grenache blanc Grenache gris) - declassified to vin de table because it has 20 grams/litre residual sugar (g/l RS: meaning it would have been 16%+ if fermented dry) and is a little atypical! Nutty oxidised tones with floral honeyed fruit; that touch of sweetness balances nicely with its power and fresh mineral acidity v toasted almond v milky yeast-lees notes too, then appley finish. Different! 90These wines are priced between €8 and €19. More Etoile du Matin wines here.

La Plantaire, Route de Treilles, 11510 Feuilla. Tel: 04 68 45 01 82, etoile.du.matin@wanadoo.frwww.etoiledumatin.com.

Languedoc: Domaine Adenis, Corbières

Nadine Franjus-Adenis has a background as a science journalist and broadcaster, who moved to the Corbières in the late 90s to "mettre les pieds sur terre," as she says on her website ("get back to my roots" or "a foothold on the land" type-stuff, man). A fascination for wine, and the powerful vineyard landscapes that characterise this eye-candy neck-of-the-woods, led to a winemaking degree in 2000 swiftly followed by her buying up a few plots of old vines near Ferrals. Nadine only makes two red wines, which she had on sampling at a tasting laid on by the Corbières people at Château Boutenac in late October 2008, including three vintages of her top one:

2002 Agapê Corbières-Boutenac (Carignan Grenache Syrah) - nice resiny fruit with meaty leather notes; mature and tasty palate with dry grip and dried fruit finish. 87-89
2003 Agapê - spicier and richer, showing a bit more wood and punch but there's lots of juicy ripe v savoury fruit; stylish and well-balanced for a heat-wave 2003. 89+
2004 Agapê - quite elegant and more closed up to start, attractive fruit and spice with a touch of oak in the background; concentrated v firm mouth-feel with fine length. Needs a couple of years to come out fully. 90+
2006 La Mariole Corbières (mostly Grenache) - youthful 'earthy' black cherry nose leading on to chunky fruity palate, nice style. 87+

UPDATE 2012: Nadine has sold her vineyards to focus on writing and journalism. For more on those vines to follow when I get some...

11200 Ferrals-les-Corbières. Tel: 04 68 43 62 77, www.domaine-adenis.com.

Languedoc: Château Sainte-Eulalie, Minervois La Livinière

Château Sainte-Eulalie

Tracking the wine-themed arrows out of the village of La Livinière up a lane heading for Calamiac, you should find (using eyesight rather than GPS) Château Sainte-Eulalie lying a good bit up the hill. Isabelle and Laurent Coustal bought this scenic estate in 1996 and are now making flavoursome, spicy and structured reds mainly from Syrah. If you call or email them in advance, they'll be pleased to take you on a spin around the property, where you get a fab view from the top (225 metres/700 feet) giving a snapshot vista of La Livinière appellation and its assorted, undulating, contoured vineyard terrain. The Coustal family also rent out a holiday cottage across the yard from the cellar, surrounded by postcard vines it goes without saying – see website for more info.

I visited Sainte-Eulalie end of October 2008, during Les Grands Chemins "Rencontres en Minervois" festival, and tasted (see updates below):
2006 La Cantilène Minervois La Livinière (50% Syrah + Grenache Carignan, 14% alc.) - dark cherry and chocolate on the nose, lightly toasted v rich and tasty, grippy tannins v nice 'sweet' texture; closes up on the finish with lingering oak dominating at the moment but this is promising and needs 6-12 months. €12 89+?

And three vintages of this wine were sampled at Montpellier's Vinisud show back in Feb. 2004:
2003 La Cantilène Minervois La Livinière (barrel sample) - Rich colour, spicy blackberry fruit and chocolate oak; structured backbone layered with ripe dense fruit, elegant finish too. 89
2001 La Cantilène - Attractive maturing rustic notes mix with tobacco and dark plum fruit, quite fine and tight showing elegant length and concentration. 89+
2002 La Cantilène - Floral notes to the liquorice and blackberry fruit, pure and mineral style with tight framework and bite set against concentrated fruit. 89

Latest: note on their 2008 La Livinière, Minervois report June 2011 and 2009 vintage posted June 2010.

34210 La Livinière. Tel: 04 68 91 42 72/06 03 89 13 41, info@chateausainteeulalie.comwww.chateausainteeulalie.com.


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