"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

23 July 2010

sweet Cadillac not pink

Carrying on the "French winey summer" wine travel theme started below, there's plenty going on in "sweet Bordeaux" country at the moment to boost your blood sugar levels. Apart from art exhibitions at a few chateaux in Sauternes (1chateaupour1artiste.org), why not head for the more evocatively named village and appellation of Cadillac (and often less expensive wines too), where less arty discovery tours are being organised throughout July and August, called "Routes, vins et patrimoine." You'll find details @ the handsome Maison des vins de Cadillac, open Monday-Friday (avoid lunchtime) plus special summer tasting sessions with the winemakers at the weekend. It's on Rue Cazeaux-Cazalet, 33410 Cadillac. 05 57 98 19 20, maisondesvins@closiere.com. Photo: Tour Maudan 2005 taken from vinconnexion.free.fr (Sweet Bordeaux Collection summer 2010).

21 July 2010

Long hot southern French winey summer

A few wine & food goings-on in the Languedoc & Roussillon, and further afield, that have come my way and might be worth checking out if you're in French wine country this (rather hot) summer:
12th "salon des vins" in Aniane (northwest of Montpellier) this Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July: all you need to know @ salondesvinsdaniane.com (Mas Daumas Gassac country among others e.g. Domaine Coston. More on them here).
Maury (northern Roussillon): 21 July (tonight!) "apéritif de terroir, tapas and Swing manouche" (Will Trio, a band presumably); 17 August "Nuit des étoiles et dégustation," (night under the stars tasting) from 8pm; 19 August another "apéritif de terroir, tapas and music" night. More info from the tourist office at the "Maison du Terroir" avenue Jean JAURES, 66460 Maury. Tel: 04 68 50 08 54, maisonduterroir@hotmail.com or maury-village.com
Until September: the tourist offices in 19 towns and villages throughout the Roussillon = Pyrénées Orientales or number "66" (as in the "département" system not an extra from the Prisoner) will also be offering an "aperitif du terroir" - once you get your pass and tasting glass, it's €3 for a wine & food tasting in the company of some of the local producers. More on the tourismedeterroir.fr website or at 19 avenue de Grande-Bretagne, 66006 Perpignan, 04 68 51 59 99.
Also showing "in a cinema near you soon" in the Roussillon (well, in a wine cellar or vineyard to be exact): "une Cave, un Jour, un Soir…" throughout July and August. Choose either an organised picnic lunch with wine tasting and vine tour (€15) or the full monty evening BBQ with the winegrower including coach transport from different pick-up points (€29). Book @ Cars verts Voyages: 10 rue Jeanne d’Arc, 66001 Perpignan Cedex, 04 68 51 19 47; or contact as per the Perpignan address/number above or see vins-du-roussillon.com
More summer wine events will be posted here shortly, in the southern Ardeche and Bordeaux among other places (see latest posts in fact).
And for regular wine tourism updates, check out Wink Lorch's blog:
blog.winetravelguides.com

18 July 2010

Languedoc: Domaine Bertrand-Bergé, Fitou

A serene daytrip back in late September 2006 (keep reading for updates), taking in the wine villages of western Fitou country, set the scene ruggedly for discovering three wineries, one big (Cave Mont Tauch) and two small (this one and Dom. Lerys)... Jérôme and Sabine Bertrand revitalized this old 30 ha (75 acre) property in 1993 to start making "real wine" again. The family had stopped producing wine in the 1960s becoming co-operative growers; now they prefer the personal touch to shape quality and styles of wine by doing everything themselves. It shows too: these are arguably among the best in the area. If you're looking to stay in the Fitou highlands / southern Corbieres, have a look at the website where you'll find details on their holiday house in the village and nearby "camp site" (a piece of rugged land actually)...

Le Méconnu Cabernet Sauvignon - Carignan, vin de pays Côtes de Torgan - nice liquorice and tobacco notes on a blackcurrant/cherry backdrop, fairly chunky and concentrated actually. €4.20 85
2004 Fitou Tradition - lovely herbal blackberry fruit aromas lead to very fruity palate turning savoury and leather, easy start v more serious finish. €6.40 87+
2004 Fitou les Mégalithes (mostly old Carignan) - maybe a touch corked as it seems a little stripped? Anyway, much tighter and firmer than above v 'sweet' liquorice fruit, powerful length. €9.30 89+
2003 Fitou Ancestrale (Carignan Grenache Syrah) - delicious ripe fruit then chunky structured mouth-feel, firm tannins v 'sweet' coating. €8.50 89-91
2004 Fitou Ancestrale (Carignan Grenache Syrah) - similarly attractive black fruits with light cedar oak, more closed up than above, tight fine finish shows class and potential. €8.50 90-92
2004 Fitou Jean Sirven - spicy wood v lush fruit, nice balance of power and concentration v elegance and length, dry grip v coating mouth-feel. €30 90-92
Rivesaltes Ambré Grande Réserve - complex Madeira and whisky notes layered with pecan nut sweetness, nice bite giving drier nutty finish. €8.80 50cl 88-90
2003 Rivesaltes Tuilé Ma-ga (Grenache) - delicious ripe oxidising plum and tobacco nose, quite powerful alcohol (which should integrate as it's young) but lovely sweet spice and earthy fruit; wow. €18 90+ 


Update summer 2010
Jérôme told me they've been "converting over to organics step by step, using less and less treatments... now more "natural" products and an "intercept" (a clever but simple tool attached to a tractor for removing weeds under the vine rows). We've noticed a difference... we'll be fully certified from 2013, although in fact some plots have been for longer anyway."
2009 Le Méconnu white vin de pays Torgan (Muscat) - nice aromatic grapey floral style, clean and crisp with zesty citrus and mineral finish. 80+
2009 Le Méconnu rosé (Syrah) - crisp and zesty with gentle red cherry fruit, elegant and mouth-watering. 80+
2008 Le Méconnu Merlot - attractive plummy vs leafy style, touches of tobacco and "inky" spice too; juicy and soft palate with a bit of oomph and grip underneath, convincing varietal style.80+
2008 Origines Fitou (Carignan Grenache) - perfumed fruity blackcurrant and blueberry notes; more liquorice and spice in the mouth with nice tannins, subtle concentration and quite elegant length. 85-87
2007 Les Mégalithes Fitou (95% old Carignan) - complex herbal vs red pepper nose underpinned by richer cassis and black olive notes even; again shows that subtle concentration vs firmer and more solid backdrop, nicely textured tannins too with closed up and fairly fine finish. About €10 89+
2007 Ancestrale Fitou (Carignan Grenache Syrah) - different aromatic profile with more cherry, richer and hints of tobacco; "sweet vs savoury" mouth-feel, concentrated yet elegant with rounded vs dry tannins; grippier finish with dark vs crunchy fruit, still youthful really. About €10 88-90
2007 Jean Sirven - lots of smoky bacon oak swamping it; it does add nice coconut texture and it's certainly concentrated, but can't really get anything else!
2008 Muscat de Rivesaltes (Muscat petits grains) - piercing citrus and honey aromas, sweet grapey marmalade vs lively fresh bite and lighter touch in the end. 85+
2008 Proposition Tardive (Muscat, 14%, 140 g/l residual sugar) - toasted notes plus caramelised orange and lemon, pretty sweet to start but shows nice cut and rounded coconut palate; closes up on the finish, quirky and promising. 87+
2007 Rivesaltes Tuilé Ma-ga (Grenache 17.5% alc.) - serve chilled: nice dark plum, liquorice and tobacco nuances; touch of chocolate oak vs lush and spicy, appealing grip and oomph vs sweet cherry fruit. 89+


2012 update - Fitou report featuring their 2009  Ancestrale.


Avenue du Roussillon, 11350 Paziolswww.bertrand-berge.com


Quirky Languedoc "sweetie of the moment"

Further to my post below about "Signature Bio" and wine competitions, I discovered this little gem while judging at this year's "Concours des Grands Vins du Languedoc Roussillon." Our table tasted a line-up of varied/varying white wines (blends from memory: oaked and unoaked, dry and sweet); this one was easily my favourite and considered the best of a mixed bunch by the other judges, which we awarded a silver medal.
2006 "La Soulenque" Domaine la Croix Belle vin de pays Cotes de Thongue Doux (14.5%) - nice spicy and exotic "botrytis-like" nose with rich marmalade and honey; lush mouth-feel vs orange peel twist, quite good balance of sugar vs bite; probably needs a touch more acidity to cut through the finish, but this is a very attractive sweetie. Made from Muscat and Sauvignon with 85g/l residual sugar (natural). Price approx. €15.
La Croix Belle is found not far north of Béziers and west of Pézenas, if you're ever in that neck of the woods. More @ croix-belle.com


Quirky Languedoc "sweetie of the moment"

Further to my post below about "Signature Bio" and wine competitions, I discovered this little gem while judging at this year's "Concours des Grands Vins du Languedoc Roussillon." Our table tasted a line-up of varied/varying white wines (blends from memory: oaked and unoaked, dry and sweet); this one was easily my favourite and considered the best of a mixed bunch by the other judges, which we awarded a silver medal.
2006 "La Soulenque" Domaine la Croix Belle vin de pays Cotes de Thongue Doux (14.5%) - nice spicy and exotic "botrytis-like" nose with rich marmalade and honey; lush mouth-feel vs orange peel twist, quite good balance of sugar vs bite; probably needs a touch more acidity to cut through the finish, but this is a very attractive sweetie. Made from Muscat and Sauvignon with 85g/l residual sugar (natural). Price approx. €15.
La Croix Belle is found not far north of Béziers and west of Pézenas, if you're ever in that neck of the woods. More @ croix-belle.com

'RED'

'Red is for wine, blood, revolution, colour... A time-warped slice 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!