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27 September 2011

Languedoc: Domaine de Cabrol, Cabardès

"Sally shovelling grape
skins out of a vat."
From domainedecabrol.fr
UPDATE: always a pleasure to have the chance to try or re-try one of Claude's lovely reds, which I did recently and is tasting-noted below and "scored" using my newfangled 1 to 3 system, as opposed to ye oldie 100-point thing for the wines below that sampled in situ when I visited him on the estate on the wilder side of Cabardès country back in April 2008. Anyway, just goes to show that Cabrol is probably one of the leading 'wineries' in this area.
Tasted on the 'Sud de France' stand at the London Wine Trade Fair:
2007 Vent d'Est (60% Syrah, 30% Cabernet, 10% Grenache) - complex herbal Syrah edges with very attractive dark vs crunchy fruit profile, lush and concentrated with 'tar' and liquorice notes vs underlying lively cassis, tight firm and powerful finish. Classy stuff. 2-3 £15 Seabright & Seabright, London. 

And this is what I said and tried three and a half years ago:
Claude Carayol and his team work 21 handsome hectares of vines planted on this elevated - up to 300 metres / 950 feet altitude in parts - sprawling estate (the remaining 100 or so ha are scented scrubland and forest), out of which they coax a handful of exciting red wines. The most representative are perhaps the following three rich solid blends: Vent d’Ouest, or West Wind made mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Vent d’Est - East Wind with Syrah predominating - and the dense age-worthy La Dérive; which are up there among the Cabardès appellation’s best wines (as long as you like chunky tannins) and reflect its philosophy in terms of varieties chosen and the sites each one performs best in.
Finding the domaine can be tricky: access is through an old gated wall on the left off the D118 road heading north from Carcassonne towards Mazamet, just after the village of Villegailhenc (bit of a mouthful that one), where vineyards and landscape begin to get sparser and wilder before merging into the ominous Montagne Noire (Black Mountain obviously). See website below for more details on going there, but basically they're open for tasting from 11am-12pm (except in winter) and 5-7pm every day (earlier in the summer) including Saturdays: ring first anyway. Claude sells his wines mostly to wine merchants and restaurants in France, so is probably as yet undiscovered in English speaking wine circles... (see update above, he now has a UK importer at least).
2005 Vent d'Est (mostly Syrah 13.5%) - attractively floral, rustic tinged black cherry nose; moves on to tight, firm and fresh mouth-feel layered with dark chocolate and cherry fruit; needs a little time to open up. 89+
2003 Vent d'Ouest (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) - nice herbal cassis and mint aromas with peppery undertones; dense palate, grippy v lush, 'sweet' v bitter twist; still pretty chunky and concentrated. 90+
2003 La Dérive (Cabernets, Syrah, Grenache) - smoky and liquoricey, again dense and extracted but it works, rich fruit v very firm tannins then savoury tang on the finish; wow, still youthful really. 92+

11600 Aragon. Tel: 04 68 77 19 06, cc@domainedecabrol.fr, domainedecabrol.fr.


Latest on Cabardès here (report June 2012).

23 September 2011

International Grenache Day

It's today folks. My other blog, by its very French Mediterranean nature, is crammed full of Grenache based wines and talk. Just follow that link and skim through the latest posts to find several very recommendable wines made from one of my favourite red varieties: e.g. Galatée Cotes du Roussillon Villages by Piquemal, “Mais où est donc Ornicar” Minervois by Sénat, L’Extreme from the Côtes Catalanes by Les Clos Perdus and so on... Plus wine tasting & touring features such as "Banyuls & Maury, sweet seductive Roussillon," with the spotlight firmly on those delicious Port-style fortified reds made from, you guessed it, mega Grenache.
There are also a few Grenache-themed pieces on this blog: such as "Australia: Grenache" penned with enthusiasm back in June and quite a bit of Spanish wine blogging/reviewing, such as Borsao's seductive Tres Picos from Campo de Borja region in this post; or 2009 San Valentín Garnacha by Torres dug up at the recent Belfast Wine Festival.
So, go forth and purchase, taste, enjoy, talk about and share a tasty warming red carved from purest red Grenache. Unless you fancy a full-bodied white made from white Grenache or rosé from "grey" Grenache, that is...


International Grenache Day

It's today folks. This blog, by its very French Mediterranean nature, is crammed full of Grenache based wines and talk. Just skim through the latest posts below to find several very recommendable wines made from one of my favourite red varieties: e.g. Galatée Cotes du Roussillon Villages by Piquemal, “Mais où est donc Ornicar” Minervois by Sénat, L’Extreme from the Côtes Catalanes by Les Clos Perdus and so on... Plus wine tasting & touring features such as "Banyuls & Maury, sweet seductive Roussillon," with the spotlight firmly on those delicious Port-style fortified reds made from, you guessed it, mega Grenache.
There are also a few Grenache-themed pieces on winewriting.blogspot.com: such as "Australia: Grenache" penned with enthusiasm back in June and quite a bit of Spanish wine blogging/reviewing, such as Borsao's seductive Tres Picos from Campo de Borja region in this post; or 2009 San Valentín Garnacha by Torres dug up at the recent Belfast Wine Festival.
So, please go forth and purchase, taste, enjoy, talk about and share a tasty warming red carved from purest red Grenache. Unless you fancy a full-bodied white made from white Grenache or rosé from "grey" Grenache, that is...

22 September 2011

Champers vs English fizz

From gusbourne.com
Another idea for a mini-theme came to mind while sampling some nice fizz at London-based wine merchant Armit's recent tasting. They import the rather superlative Champagnes of Pierre Gimonnet et Fils and had them lined up alongside an English sparkling newcomer - relatively, their first "commercial" vintage was 2006 which wasn't released until the end of last year - from Kent called Gusbourne Estate in Appledore. And the verdict? Well, as you'll see below, my notes and "scores" on the excitingly simple 1 to 3 scale for all five wines are pretty much on a par. So, well done Gusbourne especially since they've only been making "Champagne style" fizz (same varieties, same ageing methods I'd guess) for six vintages, including the one they're probably picking now or about to. Classy wines although, as is the "problem" with these very small production, new-kid-on-the-block boutique English sparkling wine houses, the prices are more or less the same as the Gimonnet Champagnes. Not really a criticism - good luck in the current retail climate - just an observation, as I'm sure they've invested a lot of money into the estate and winery. Must go there sometime...
This reminds me to focus a bit more on English sparkling wines; it's been a while since I tried e.g. Ridgeview, Nyetimber, Camel, who all produce lovely fizz. There's a newish "does what it says on the label" website too covering the whole 'topic' with handy on-line shop: sparklingenglishwine.com


Cuis 1er Cru Brut NV ChampagneGimonnet - classic balance of bread-y yeasty notes, a bit of roundness and texture vs nice steely bite. 2 £30
Gastronome Brut 2006 Vintage Champagne, Gimonnet - toastier vs tarter profile, fine and tight style with long tasty finish, still seems quite young really. 2+ £32
Fleuron 1er Cru Brut 2005 Vintage Champagne, Gimonnet - delicious bread-y nose with oat cake tones, rich vs tight mouth-feel with fresher acidity vs more of those enticing biscuit flavours. 2+ £36 


Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006 (100% Chardonnay) - bread-y and lightly toasty vs nutty crisp side, subtle balance style and length. 2 £25-£30
Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé 2008 (Chardy, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier) - toasty with hints of chocolate and sweet red fruits vs crisp bite and dry texture, quite toasty finish but it's very tasty and different. 2 £25-£32

LATEST ON ENGLISH WINE HERE.

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