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17 November 2023

Roussillon: Les Aspres, the centre and beyond.

Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, central Roussillon.

Côtes du Roussillon Villages and Les Aspres, Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes Catalanes and Rivesaltes VDNs.
Talking of the Aspres and neighbouring areas in central and eastern Roussillon, barrels full of heartfelt empathy go out to those winegrowers who had the very bad luck of being hit by a freak storm just before some remaining black grapes were due to be picked this vintage. One night of terrible wind and rain after months of drought with virtually no rainfall, which had already made things difficult and reduced the crop.

16 October 2023

Argentina: Chardonnay, Torrontés, Semillon.

Chardonnay is grown in many of Argentina's wine regions north to south although most of it by far in the province of Mendoza. It's officially the number two white grape (after Torrontés), which isn't saying much: Argentina remains serious red wine country. Making a perhaps more familiar European comparison though, there's about the same amount of Chardonnay as in Chablis, but planted much higher up.

17 September 2023

Languedoc: Saint Chinian

Vieussan from saint-chinian.com.

The Saint-Chinian region lies between Béziers and Minervois and northwards to the jagged hills at the bottom of the Massif Central. It stretches from the villages of Quarante to Vieussan south to north, and from Murviel-lès-Béziers to Ferrières-Poussarou east to west; a vast area of about 40 by 30 kilometres. So, the idea that all wines produced in this appellation represent and express one distinct namesake terroir or 'taste of place' is a stretch.

31 August 2023

Rosé: Languedoc vs Roussillon.


Is there a big difference in rosé from the Languedoc and Roussillon? Winemakers in both regions tend to have the same red grape varieties - mainly Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault (less so in the Roussillon) and Mourvèdre - and production techniques don't vary much from one place to another. Except for the particular style of rosé intended in terms of colour (deeper redder or paler pink), flavour and 'seriousness' (richer fruitier fuller or more aromatic zestier lighter).

14 August 2023

New Zealand: Syrah, Cabernets, Malbec and Merlot.

New Zealand Wine Inc. Craggy Range Syrah.

Syrah isn't the newcomer to New Zealand's vineyards that I imagined it might be, with 'a long history dating back to the mid-1800s.' Most of this seductive variety is planted in Hawke's Bay region, a vast cove on the east coast of North Island and one of NZ's sunniest spots; followed by the Auckland / Waiheke Island area in the north with its warm seaside climate. But, at 350 and 50 hectares of Syrah plantings respectively, the wines are of niche interest even if very promising.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.