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10 November 2011

Southern French reds @ Marks & Spencer's

Half-a-dozen new releases or new vintages of old M&S favourite reds gleaned from a sweeping swathe of the big south, taking in the Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence and Rhone Valley and all sampled and savoured at their recent London tasting (nice newish HQ building by the way).

2010 Old Vines Grenache Noir, Roussillon - Vindivin (14% alc.): sexy ripe sweet juicy Grenache nose and palate, soft liquorice vs peppery punchy side, lush mouth-feel with a bit of grip vs pure fruity pleasure. £6.99
2008 Cuvée Extrême, Côtes du Roussillon Villages - Vignerons Catalans (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan; 14.5%): spicy vs maturing nose, quite rich and big with a touch of 'old wood' grain, powerful and grippy vs sweet / spicy fruit finishing with meaty edges too. That 14.5 alc. is a little hot but this has plenty of flavour to counter it! £9.99 150 stores.
Profile and Catalan wines tasted previously.
2007 L'Etoile de Romanin, Les Baux de Provence - Château Romanin (Mourvèdre, Cabernet, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault; 14%): interesting cocktail of varieties conjuring up a seductive smoky nose and palate, liquorice vs cassis fruit and savoury meaty and black olive tones as well; grip and power vs concentrated mouth-feel, attractive raisin vs olive flavours, lovely style balance and class. Dear though at £13.99 (150 stores), which is pretty typical of rich men's club and small production Baux de Provence. They sell most of it to well-off Parisians with holiday villas in twee places like St. Rémy de Provence. Jealous, moi...
2009 Crozes-Hermitage, northern Rhône - Domaine Collonge (actually made by Philippe and Vincent Jaboulet; 100% Syrah, 13% alc.): quite closed up on the nose, leads on to delicious Syrah spice style with dark cherry fruit and meaty edges, concentrated with dry grip vs lovely white peppery and fruity finish, rounded vs lively; well-balanced and classy. £12.99 in 150 stores.
2009 Saint-Josephnorthern Rhône - Cave de St-Désirat (100% Syrah, 12.5%): quirkier herbal-leaning nose moving on to lusher mouth-feel with dark vs savoury profile, chunky and more structured vs sweet peppery fruit then maturing meaty notes; much firmer finish than above but still good. £12.99 80 stores.
2009 Fitou Reserve, Languedoc - Château de Montmal / Cave de Mont Tauch (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan; 13.5%): nice spicy black cherry and sweet liquorice vs smoky tobacco and volatile balsamic notes; powerful solid palate with tasty concentrated fruit, lush and lively with ripe maturing finish. Well-made attractive chunky style although very much a special-occasion red at the price: £12.99 on-line only.

Click here and here for a couple of M&S southern French whites. And here for a couple of hearty Australian "reds of the mo" from Rhone / Med grape varieties...

09 November 2011

Chile: Nuevo Mundo

As you would expect from right-on importer Vintage Roots (goes to their site) with their long-standing organic-with-knobs-on credentials, this new range (Nuevo Mundo = New World in Spanish obviously) is sourced from the Maipo Valley by star winery De Martino (profile on them and Carmenere 1996-2010 vertical tasting report to follow, by the way!) entirely from certified organic vineyards managed with "increased water efficiency," as the blurb says. Not only that, I'm also told the wines are "100% carbon neutral (how's that then, transported by wind power perhaps?) and made from native yeasts with low sulphite levels..."

02 November 2011

Languedoc: Le Clos du Serre, Terrasses du Larzac

Sébastien Fillon set up shop as a brave new winegrower in 2006 having spent a few years trying to find ‘the right spot’. Well, he found it - and 15 different parcels of old-vine vineyard (including some 85 and 110 year-old Carignan) - in those breath-taking elevated wine-lands around St. Jean de la Blaquière: there really are serious stoney terraces up here unlike other parts of the so-called, and somewhat flatter "Terrasses du Larzac" mini-appellation. The easiest way of finding it is by heading up the spectacular A75 motorway from Montpellier or Béziers and follow the signs (doh!). His 'Le Clos' red blend sampled below includes one third of this virtually extinct variety of Cinsault apparently (that's a new one on me) selected from one distinct and obviously cherished parcel. Sébastien had the bright idea of creating a kind of investor 'vineholder' scheme to reduce the sum of money he had to borrow (building and equipping a cellar is a very expensive business), which has amounted to no less than 80 people pitching in and buying their own vines. Further wisdom: leclosduserres.fr.

2009 Le Clos Languedoc (Syrah, Cinsault 'oeillade', Grenache; 13.5% alc.) - has ‘inky’ spicy and floral notes, dark vs crunchy fruit profile, firm mouth-feel with hints of chocolate oak and light bitter twist, tight closed up finish. Good, needs a couple of years to come out of its shell perhaps. £10.99 Premium Wine Collections.
2009 Les Maros Terrasses du Larzac (60% Grenache plus Cinsault & Carignan; 14.5% alc.) - ripe fruity nose with spicy dark fruit combo, liquorice vs pepper too; big solid palate, tight closed up finish again, very attractive style with a touch of class. £15.99 Premium Wine Collections.

01 November 2011

Languedoc: Pinot Noir, Domaine de Clovallon

Further to my comments chiselled into a piece posted on WineWriting.com (Pinot Noir: Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand) on a case of 'Pinot fraud,' I'd say this one’s definitely Pinot. It's from this slightly off-the-wall estate found in Bédarieux on the ragged fringes of the Massif Central mountains.
2008 Les Pomarèdes Pinot Noir vin de pays d’Oc Domaine de Clovallon - Succulent silky “sweet/savoury” style and attractive Pinot character, shows a touch of dry grip vs fresh acidity on the finish. Very good for Languedoc PN although dear at £15.75 in the UK (Terroir Languedoc).
Click here to see my note on their lovely white wine. Mind you, most of the best ones are made in Limoux: click here for a bit of a rant and a few recommended producers.


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