"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

05 December 2011

Roussillon: Bugarach or until the end of the world...

Cue Edge style guitar strumming... remember the U2 song used for the soundtrack of that early-90s arty apocalyptic Wim Wenders movie? Well, I like a man with a sense of humour, and it makes a refreshing change to come across this Roussillon red in the cluttered wine world. As it says, translating from the back-label: "Inspired by the oldest legends, this Bugarach wine should survive the end of the world and help you get in touch with extraterrestrials. This wine will be at its peak in December 2012..." He's called Jean Pla (pic.) and is probably best known for the "resto-cave" he and his wife used to own in Maury, Le Pichenouille, which he sold this year to focus on his wine broking / making activities. I remember someone also once called him "the Godfather of Maury," with respek.
Bugarach is a tiny village found nearby in the Corbieres at the foot of the mystical 'upside-down' Bugarach peak, which for some reason will be spared next year's apocalypse according to some wise souls. Anyway, this wine is a 100% Grenache blend sourced from vineyards around St-Paul de Fenouillet where Jean lives, is available locally and in "Northern Europe" (a bit vague, see website link below) and in the US via the appropriately named  David Vincent Selection (remember the star of the original Invaders TV series?).

Cuvée Bugarach 2010 vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes, Jean Pla Sélection (Grenache, 14.5% alc); subtitled as "S'il n'en reste qu'un, je serais celui-la" = "If there's only one left, I'd be this one." 
Volatile "real cider" notes in that "natural" wild ferment / low sulphite winemaking style (I'm guessing), nice chunky palate vs rounded tannins with wild blackberry / cherry fruit, has a bit of oomph vs fresher bite, light touch of chocolate oak underneath with grainy texture, 'cidery' vs sweet fruit on the finish tinged with savoury black olive flavours too. €8

Posh Chablis @ M&S

Marks & Spencer has always had a reputation for good reliable Chablis in my book, usually expressing exactly what you’d expect and want from a nice bottle of Chabbers. And the latest vintages of their whole Chablis range didn’t disappoint (except one) when sampled at their London press tasting a few weeks ago. These 'steely' dry whites are made from 100% Chardonnay, as is all Chablis stating what might be b******* obvious for some perhaps, although producers haven’t always put this simple and nevertheless interesting fact on their back-labels. Classic ‘straightforward’ Chablis is usually unoaked; and the higher quality ‘Premier’ and ‘Grand Cru’ wines, sourced from certain specific vineyard sites, often see varying degrees of barrel ageing depending on how rich the wine is, the producer’s style or vintage quality. Mind you, they’re getting dearer though with no Chablis under a tenner at M&S nowadays (apart from the 'Petit' version, which I didn't try this time and have found OK but lacking substance in the past), although they do occasional promotions like everyone else of course!

2008 Chablis La Chablisienne (12.5% alc.) - classic creamy vs steely style, nice intense buttery fruit vs crisp bite and light lees edges; maturing oily vs still fresh finish. Good + : £10.99
2008 Organic Chablis Jean-Marc Brocard (12.5%) - from a biodynamically farmed vineyard where they use “medicinal plants against insects and diseases.” Deep coloured and fruity, has almost toasty edges with exotic buttery fruit vs very crisp bite and long lingering finish; quirky stuff but lovely with it. £14.99 170 stores.
2007 Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume Union des Viticulteurs de Chablis (12.5%) - quite rich and mature on the nose, subtle concentration of warm buttery fruit vs steely cut vs mature oily finish; fair class with elegant balance and length. Very good, drinking well now. £18 300 stores.
2008 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos Louis Moreau (13%) - richer and toastier profile, concentrated vs crisp mouth-feel; quite 'impressive' although perhaps trying too hard to be a white Burgundy from further south. £38 50 stores.

01 December 2011

Languedoc: a tale of two Fitous...

Aka a couple of Fitou-esque updates from Domaine Jones and Cave de Mont Tauch, just for the sake of making the post title a touch catchier. There's also a theme to my stream-of-conscious word outpourings, as you'll gather if you read this post from August last year featuring Domaine Jones and her first vintage release wines. Katie used to work for the Mont Tauch co-op in marketing but is now a fully-fledged winegrower/maker, and has a few wee vineyard parcels in the Maury area and now a massive 0.6 hectares (1.5 acres) in Tuchan in Fitou country (near where she lives) across the rocky Corbières border between Languedoc and Roussillon. The 2010 red tasting-noted below is hence her first vintage (although it says on her website that 2011 would be the first?!) from these particular mixed old vines, some of them 100 years and counting, which is looking good already. Katie's wines are also now available in the US via David Vincent Selection, in Sweden from Johan Lidby and at Bodaweinhaus and Weinhaus Gawron in Germany, so she has been busy.
Just for the hell of it, or to stir up a bit of mischief perhaps, I've slotted in a new (outside of France anyway) single-vineyard Fitou from Mont Tauch co-op winery (also from Tuchan) underneath, which was previously included in this post on some new southern French reds from M&S. Oh, and a little "local politics" might not go amiss here... Katie's partner used to be president of said co-op and has since reverted to quietly getting on with looking after his own vineyards in the area, although was unfortunately a victim of some spiteful jealous moron, allegedly, who decided to wreck one of these, presumably because of some former conflict over "policy". There's progress for you, just when most of France has finally woken up to real competition in the big bad wine world, down south, in certain co-op worlds at least rather than forward-thinking ones or estate wineries, your competitor/enemy is still your neighbour! Anyway, as always, let's let the wines do the talking, which are both good it has to be said in their different ways...

2010 Domaine Jones Fitou (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah; 14% alc): Sweet dark berry fruit and liquorice aromas with volatile edges, shows a light touch of chocolate/coffee oak adding grainy vs rounded texture, fair oomph vs attractive supple tannins, black fruits and subtle dark choc bitter twist. Drinking nicely already yet still structured and concentrated, ripe and rounded mouth-feel vs tarter blueberry fruit side. Quite dear at £20 but I understand she didn't make much at all, and it's good stuff for sure. Available on-line for UK delivery or see Katie's blog for other outlets: domainejones.blogspot.com.
And one of her latest red releases is featured here2012 Le Petit Train Syrah December 2013

2009 Fitou, 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, a special-occasion red at the price: £12.99 M&S on-line only.
Previous MT wines and profile are here.

28 November 2011

Germany: Reichsrat von Buhl "Grand Cru" tasting

Kirchenstück single vineyard
"Or 'Grosses Gewächs' tasting to be precise, although the German equivalent of 'Grand Cru' does sound more like a term of abuse than a term describing a first-rate vineyard site..." Sensational taste-off of Von Buhl's 2009 vs 2010 dry Rieslings, sublime 2010 sweet wines and "a little surprise" vintage from the past...
CLICK HERE to read the full works, which goes to the just added German section of my wine words pages where you'll also find these archive features brought across from "old" WineWriting.com:
Riesling Riesling & Riesling or "a couple of racy German tastings combined..."
Terrassen-Mosel: "Extreme vineyard walking, right-angle Rieslings & Mosel-side eating..."
Plus an "international Riesling review" and Lingenfelder's "Vineyard Creatures"...

24 November 2011

Australia: Rhone / Med winter reds (up north anyway)

Following in the shadowy footsteps of a similarly themed post on my other blog called Southern French reds @ Marks & Spencer's, here's a trio of hearty Aus "reds of the mo", if you like, created from Rhone/Med grape varieties and recently shipped neatly onto the shelves of your nearest Marks & Spencer's (well, perhaps, as these two have limited distribution as you can see below) and Asda (added 28 Nov). Discovered at a recent M&S tasting at their HO in London (more recommended wines from that to follow), and the third one in my local Asda store...

2010 Hunter Valley Shiraz - Tyrrell's Wines (100% Shiraz, 13% alc.): odd nose at first turning into sweet cherry and spicy 'medicinal' notes, it's a little at sorts with itself on the palate (still youthful though) but finishes better in a fuller Crozes-Hermitage like way. £9.99 M&S 150 stores.
2008 Marananga Dam Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre - Torbeck, Barossa Valley (44% Grenache, 34% Mourvèdre and the rest Shiraz/Syrah; 13% alc.): rich ripe fruit with meaty edges on the nose, liquorice and pepper aromas/flavours too vs enticing tangier side; punchy and concentrated mouth-feel with attractive sweet/savoury style, then maturing yet still lively finish. Very good although quite pricey: £12.99 M&S 200 stores.
2009 Shiraz/Viognier (14%) - Zilzie Wines, SE Australia: Victoria based Zilzie does a straight Viognier white wine as well as this spicy aromatic red blend, following a bit of a fashion in Aus for adding a drop of white Viognier to red Shiraz/Syrah in the style of traditional northern Rhone reds such as Côte-Rôtie. I liked the not so full-on fruity style of this one with attractive black cherry and cassis hints, a spicy floral side to it too, as I said; nice rounded quite weighty palate with fairly soft tannins and just a hint of chocolate oak adding texture and aroma/flavour. £6 Asda on promotion (usually £10).

More GSM from Aus here.


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