February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:12 am

Coteaux du Languedoc Pic-Saint-Loup L’Olivette 2008 – Clos Marie – Alc.13.5% - (€12), from Syrah, Grenache and a little Mourvèdre and Cinsault, opened last night, was an exemplary Languedoc for regular drinking. The nose was complex and expressive with red/dark fruit and herb, leather and olive touches; the palate was medium bodied, quite linear and harmonious with fresh acidity, some Southern Rhône like sweet dark fruit up-front (Grenache’s contribution?) with garrigue, spice, olives, balsamic hints and stony minerals becoming prominent on the mid-palate and finish and enough tannic grip to support the finish. This wine tastes of the Midi but with more elegance than most, especially remarkable at the reasonable price point; 16/20++ QPR!

L’Olivette is Clos Marie’s entry level red. Here are my impressions of the range tasted at an October tasting.

Clos Marie, Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup (“PSL”)
And this is one of my favourite estates from Languedoc. Languedoc Manon 2008 (W) (€15), from Grenache blanc & gris, Roussanne, Clairette and Macabeu, was an example of the fine results now being obtained from whites in the South showing an overlay of great freshness and minerality on the usual generous Mediterranean fruit; 15.5/20++. Of the four reds I always buy PSL L’Olivette (€12), GSM blend; 2008 shows dark plum with a touch of sweaty saddle and olive, lively acidity and minerals; 16/20 QPR. The three others, PSLs Simon 08, Metairies du Clos VV 08 both (€19) and Les Glorieuses 06 (€41) are Syrah/Grenache blends (but Metairies adds in 60% old Carignan) and see 1/3 new wood. They were less ready than L’Olivette but showed more depth and complexity with Metairies providing some tar and leather; all very promising for 16-17/20 in 2-3 years.


(NB: I wrote the above before reading Chaim's post. No big difference in view, I think, though I am puzzled by the comment "priced like an expensive Saint Joseph, of equal quality if not exactly the same style". Most St.Jo here is priced around €20 and the cheapest, a good one from Vincent Paris, costs €14.)
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3862
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby ChaimShraga » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:06 pm

Tim,

I should probably have written "not inexpensive". It's priced at a little under 40 dollars here.
Positive Discrimination For White Wines!
http://2GrandCru.blogspot.com
User avatar
ChaimShraga
Wine guru
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 5:53 am
Location: Tel-Aviv, Israel

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:48 am

Last night I joined 40 French wine lovers, including a handful of vignerons, for an interesting tasting hosted by a local caviste (wine merchant). He has selected 8 of his favourite LR wines, opened them at lunchtime, decanted them and then we were served them blind, during which we made notes, discussed and scored the wines. I found it very interesting because the wines were being presented in their best light but tasted blind. They were all reds from the 2008 or 09 vintage.

Here are my notes. I tried to guess the origin of each wine and you can see how close or far off I was. I've also included the overall ranking by the group.

1) Powerful nose of crunchy fruit with a touch of farmyard reduction. Palate is smooth and well-balanced with good acidity, fresh fruits of the forest and a good length. The wine was noticeable lighter, more subtle tannins and for me more elegant than the rest. 17.5/20

I guessed it might be Domaine Gardies Milleres or Domaine Gauby Les Calcinaires but it was in fact J-m Alquier's entry level 12€ Faugeres. It was ranked 5th by the group.

2) Very powerful, fragrant ripe red fruits on nose. Perhaops a bit overripe. The palate was a bit too soft and too fruity with a noticeable lack of mid-palate density. Again the flavour of fruit compote . Overall it was smooth and round but lacking structure and acidity. Goood to drink now but I wouldn't risk cellaring it. 15/20

I guessed it might be from the Coops of Roquebrun of Castelmaure. It was La Voute-Gasparets at 23€ and it was ranked 7th by the group. So probably the most overpriced wine for me and everyone concerned.

3) Massive aroma of fruit pastilles (or wine gums). My first impression was that it was far too fruity but underneath there was some nice stony minerality. The entry was nice and soft with big rich fruits, some tannic structure and good rich, spicy length. It seemed very well made and enjoyable with a nice complexity to make it intereting. 16/20

I guessed it might be Coop de Roquebrun or a good Paul Mas wine from Corbieres or St Chinian. Which wasn't far off. It was Castelmaure Coop's top wine at 18€. The "jury" ranked it 4th.

4) Powerful nose of baked, maderised fruit. Like a rancio style Maury or Banyuls. Overripe and oxidised. The palate was too hot with burnt fruit and an unpleasant astringence un the base of the mouth. Unbalanced. 12/20

I guessed it might be a wine from a lesser producer in Maury. It was Domaine de la Garance, a biodynamic estate in the Herault costing 19€. Everybody commented on the maderised character but the merchant maintained it was a fabulous wine which would be wonderful in 10 years time. He claimed not to detect any rancio/baked character. The group ranked it 8th.

5) Rustic berry fruits with a noticeable whiff of alcohol spirit. The palate lacked life and vivacity. The taste was slightly leesy (yeast extract) but it had good length and a nice liquorice finish despite being a bit flat. The tannins were present and subtle. A big easygoing wine but without much finesse or interest. 14/20

I guessed it might be from Minervois La Liviniere. It was Le Clos Marie from Pic St Loup, costs 14€ and was tranked 6th by the group.

6) Lighter in hue than the others. A touch reduced on the nose with farmyard and burnt matches. Some hints of stewed cabbage and broccoli. In the mouth it had again a slightly leesy character but this time the dark berries were well-balanced and accompanied by some minerality. On the finish some beef stock and liquorice. 16/20

I guessed Montpeyroux, perhaps Armailhac. It was Mas Jullien Les Etats d'Amé from the same terroir - probably my best guess of the night. Cost 18€ and ranked joint second. I have to admit I've always found his wines far too pongy but clearly they need to have a few hours to let all that reduction blow off to reveal their pleasures.

7) Pretty powerful nose with caramel, chocolate and ripe red fruit. Caramelised fruit in mouth with noticeable acid in the middle. Tastes like it has perhaps been made with oak staves. Tannins were nice and supple but it finished short. Overall well-made but the acid was a bit unbalanced and it lacked complexity. 15/20.

I felt it could have come from anywhere, perhaps a Gerard Bertrand wine. It was in fact Gardies Les Milleres 09 from Tautavel. This quite surprised me as I've tasted this wine on a few occasions and while that strange acidity was present, I don't remember ever tasting caramel before. Perhaps he has changed style or perhaps I just got confused on this one. Costs 13€ and was ranked joint second by the group.

8) A darker ruby colour. Subtle and beautiful nose of schiste minerality, rustic berries and citrus peel. In the mouth dark rish berries with spice. Present but well-rounded tannin and a length that grew in volume. Overall an excellent wine. My only dissapointment was that the aroma faded in intensity quite quickly in the glass. 17.5/20

I guessed this might be J-M Alquier in Faugeres or some other good producer on schist soils. It was Domaine de la Rectorie Cote Mer from Collioure (schiste). 16€. This was ranked top by the group.

So in conclusion I thought it was a great way to taste wine. Giving each one plenty of time and attention, making sure they were served correctly and comparing like-for-like while hiding the information that would influnce our judgement. My ranking of preference/quality was very close to the group as a whole (even though they favoured the most local wines) which was interesting given that my background and tasting experience is quite different. They were all, with one exception, enjoyable wines and compared to wine from other regions, very good value for money. The only problem is that within the range, there was little correlation between price and enjoyment.
Jon Hesford
Wine geek
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:15 am

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:52 am

Jon,

Those are very interesting TNs. It is intriguing that, under blind conditions for an experienced "local" like you, the distinction between Languedoc and Roussillon appellations did not come out more clearly. Perhaps one is apt to find bigger distinctions than real when tasting with the label in view.

It's interesting that Alquier's entry level cuvée (is that Les Premières?) came out so well; I wonder how La Maison Jaune or Les Bastides would have fared. I'm glad that you have at last had a Mas Jullien which you like, though €18 seems a lot to pay for États d'Âme so close to its place of origin; it is listed at €15 by the importer here.

Have you seen the RVF's own attempt in their latest edition to designate "grands crus" in Languedoc? They make more sense than the official proposals but are still IMO far from perfect. When I have a moment, I'll try to summarise the article.
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3862
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:16 pm

Wonderful set of notes there Jon. Many wines I have read about, most I will never see!!

Tim, looking forward to your RVF thoughts.

I have to think that no past Wine Focus subject here on WLDG has created as much information as this one, Languedoc. Those here who thought it might be a quiet month had better get reading here!!! Agree, choices of wines available are slim. What a pity.
Last edited by Bob Parsons Alberta on Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Bob Parsons Alberta
aka Doris
 
Posts: 9503
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:10 pm

I've got the latest RVF but only skimmed through it. There is a lot of contect on the LR and RFV certianly seem to be championing the LR as a serious wine region. I just wish those British and overseas merchants who categorize Languedoc Roussillion as "French Country Wine" would shrug off their faded tweed jackets and join RVF in the 21st century.

I enjoyed the Hervé Bizoul interview. He's an intersting character who speaks a lot of sense and is definitely his own man. Although I don't necessarily believe or agree with everything he says, I have a lot of respect for someone who can create a domaine in the Roussillon and sell his wine for 200€ a bottle within 12 years. Many vignerons dislike him for his success but I think we all have something to learn from him.

I only looked at the Languedoc Cru article to see who they had picked. I will say I think the RVF have some favourites who get loads of publicity they don't necessarily deserve. I'll have another good in-depth read later (the mag is in the bathroom !)

One thing I never want to lose is an open mind about wine. I enjoy tasting wine blind from time to time but I also like to taste wine in context. Tim knows that I've bought Mas Jullien on two previous occasions and been overwhelmed by the stink of pig-farm on the wines and unable to enjoy them but last night, after several hours in the decanter, I did enjoy the wine. However, I will say that all the women on my table thought it was quite odd with too much smelly boiled green vegetable aroma.


Another comment which I forgot to say here was that it was very difficult for any of us to guess which appellation the wines came from. There is more similarity between good winemakers employing similar techniques on similar soil types at opposite ends of the region than there is between two wines in the same appellation, which often have multiple soil types and a whole range of winemakers trying to suit their chosen market.
Jon Hesford
Wine geek
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:15 am

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:53 pm

Gravillas is one domaine I thought might get a mention in our discussions especially as John Bojanoeski has posted here. I intend to open an `07 later this evening! The wine is Sous les cailloux des grillons.

Under the Rocks Crickets is actually so named because St Jean de Minervois is completely covered by white limestone rocks (looks like snow–gravillas means gravel in patois) and, in the vineyard in question, there are always lots of crickets (when it’s not below zero…).


More info here from Rosemary.....>


http://tastelanguedoc.blogspot.com/search?q=gravillas
User avatar
Bob Parsons Alberta
aka Doris
 
Posts: 9503
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:28 am

The RVF runs an article this month giving their own suggestions for terroirs in Languedoc which deserve to be classified as “grands crus”. Let me say that these proposals make a lot more sense to me than those from CIVL summarised earlier in this Wine Focus, though they are of course open to criticism; I will make mine after the summary of the article which follows in italics. About half the estates mentioned are new names for me.

We established this hit-parade taking account of different criteria, namely –
- the terroirs’ potential in a physical sense (soil type, exposure, altitude)
- the presence of estates capable of realising that potential
- the commercial fame of those estates
This hit-parade in order of merit is subject to change as certain terroirs with potential, e.g. Grès de Montpellier and Saint-Georges d’Orques, lack emblematic estates.

1. Aniane-Puéchabon. This area is a subset of Terrasses de Larzac and produces wines which are both profound and full of finesse. The soils are calcareous, quite poor, well drained and pebbly. Cabernet-Sauvignon is found in some emblematic cuvées as well as the more usual varieties for the region. Outstanding estates/cuvées –
Domaine de Montcalmès
Domaine La Terrasse d’Élise, Cuvée Élise
Domaine de la Grange des Pères
Mas du Daumas Gassac

2. Terrasses du Larzac. This area covers some 30 communes and is quite varied both in climate and soil and consequently in the style of its wines (e.g. rich and structured from Montpeyroux and suave and structured in Pégairolles-de-L’Escalette). Outstanding estates/cuvées –
Domaine Mas Jullien
Domaine Alain Chabanon, Esprit de Font Caude
Château de Jonquières La Baronne
Mas Cal Demoura, Les Combariolles
Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette, Le Grand Pas

3. Saint-Chinian. There are two distinct terroir areas. The North, where Carignan prospers, is dominated by schist and sandstone and the South by calcareous clay. Outstanding estates/cuvées –
Mas Champart, Clos de la Silonette
Dom. Borie la Vitarèle, Les Crès
Dom. Les Éminades, Vieilles Canailles
Domaine Canet-Valette, Maghani

4. Faugères. The soil type is schist and sandstone throughout the area. Mountains protect the area from North winds and the best wines have a natural elegance. Outstanding estates/cuvées –
Dom. Léon Barral, Valinière
Jean-Michel Alquier, Les Bastides
Mas d’Alezon, Montfalette
Dom. Saint-Antonin, Magnoux

5. Pic Saint-Loup. Mainly calcareous and pebbly soil with a certain freshness of climate and big temperature swings between day and night leading to freshness and roundness of fruit in the best wines. Outstanding estates/cuvées –
Clos Marie, Les Glorieuses
Mas Bruguière, La Grenardière
Ermitage du Pic Saint-Loup, Guilhem-Gaucelm
Domaine de Cazeneuve, Sang du Calvaire

6. Pézenas. Varied soils and warmer climate. Outstanding estates/cuvées –
Dom. De la Garance, Les Armières
Dom. Les Aurelles, Aurel
Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian
Dom. Le Conte de Floris, Carbonifère

7. Corbières-Boutenac. Carignan is king here. Soils are a pebbly mixture of sandstone, clay and chalk. North winds have a cleansing effect and reduce the summer heat. Outstanding estates/cuvées –
Ch. Ollieux-Romanis, Atal Sia
Clos Pacalis, Agapê
Dom. Legodar

8. Minervois-La Livinière. Very dry with high average temperatures. Varied soils with marl, calcareous sandstone and hard chalk. Outstanding estates/cuvées –
L’Oustal Blanc, Prima Donna
Clos Centeilles
Ch.Sainte-Eulalie, La Cantilène

9. Fitou. Schist by the coast, chalk inland.
Dom. Bertrand-Bergé, Jean Sirven
Ch. Champs des Soeurs, La Tina
Dom. Les Mille Vignes

10. La Clape. A range of hills some 200m high close to the Med. Varied composition of the soil with chalk, marl, sandstone and iron.
Ch. Pech Redon, L’Épervier
Dom. G.Bertrand, L’Hospitalitas
Ch. Mir L’Étang Tradition

11. Cabardès. At the cross-roads between Atlantic and Mediterranean influence, Bordelais grape varieties are present as well as Mediterranean. Vines usually on south facing lime and calcareous clay.
Dom.Cabrol, Vent de l’Est
Dom.Cabazan, Demoiselle Claire
Ch. de Pennautier, L’Esprit


My main criticism of the above is that the areas are still far too big and varied for credible use of the term “grand cru”, particularly Terrasses de Larzac. Contrast this with Burgundy, where the “grands crus” are mostly tiny (the biggest, Clos Vougeot, is the least credible) and Bordeaux where “grands crus” are individual estates (but too many undeserving estates, particularly in St.Émilion, are allowed the title).

I am puzzled by the omission of Peyre-Rose in Grès de Montpellier, I think, from the outstanding estates. This estate earns ** (max ***) in the RVF green guide and got the top two positions in one of their comparative tasting of Languedoc wines a couple of years ago. Whether or not the massive style of the estate appeals, this omission seems to show editorial inconsistency.

I personally regret the omission of Dom. d’Aupilhac (* in RVF’s green guide), IMO the best producer in Montpeyroux whose wines age gracefully and who produces an excellent pure Carignan cuvée.
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3862
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:16 am

That is quite a list you have translated for us Tim. Many names there are new to me too, lots of research to do via google! I was surprised by the domaines mentioned in La Clape/absence there of!
User avatar
Bob Parsons Alberta
aka Doris
 
Posts: 9503
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:37 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:That is quite a list you have translated for us Tim. Many names there are new to me too, lots of research to do via google! I was surprised by the domaines mentioned in La Clape/absence there of!


Wot no Négly :shock: ?
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3862
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby GrahamTigg » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:27 am

Tim -thanks for posting this. The list seems to focus on the areas (terroirs) it has chosen to define. Properties that fall outside of this that are just as good simply get lost and this simply reinforces Jonathan's point. Peyre-Rose is one obvious example - although I'm not a big fan. I would add Clovallon in Bedarieux, Rimbert in Berlou, Grange de Quatre Sous (between Faugeres and St. Chinian). Perhaps understandably all the entries have a 10+ year track record.

The biggest disappointment of the properties I know is Château de Jonquières. Auphilhac is a glaring omission. Garance in Pezenas has already been discussed.

One thing is for certain, within 5 years the domaines on the list will need to be re-written as some of the new growers gain a track record.
GrahamTigg
Cellar rat
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:23 am
Location: London and Herault (Languedoc)

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:38 am

Unfortunately the term "grand cru" is used for so many different things in France that it is essentially meaningless EXCEPT in Burgundy. Of course in Burgundy it is called into question as well over sites such as Corton, Echezeaux and Clos Vougeot, but the concept at least holds for those with the disposable income to play in the game.

Move outside of Burgundy, and grand cru suffers terrible abuses by being used to define villages (Champagne), estates (Bordeaux) and generically-defined geographic regions (southern France). This does not even touch on the ill-conceived grand crus of Alsace.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
User avatar
David M. Bueker
Riesling Guru
 
Posts: 21996
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:04 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Move outside of Burgundy, and grand cru suffers terrible abuses by being used to define villages (Champagne), estates (Bordeaux) and generically-defined geographic regions (southern France). This does not even touch on the ill-conceived grand crus of Alsace.


The granting of "grand cru" status to whole villages in Champagne is IMO too broad to be ideal, but nothing like so broad as 30+ villages for Terrasses du Larzac. I think that overall opinion does, however, concede that the majority of these Champagne grand cru villages merit their superior status, especilly Aÿ, Ambonnay, Bouzy amongst Noirs (fine still reds as well) and Cramant, Avize and Le Mesnil amongst the Blancs.

In Bordeaux, the principle of awarding grand cru status by estate seems sound to me but it has been applied too generously, especially in Saint-Émilion. Pomerol doesn't see the need for a classification and IMO none is preferable to grand cru awards to undeserving châteaux.

In Alsace I don't think that it is the principle of designating favoured sites which is bad but rather the award to some unworthy sites.

So I persist in thinking the excessive broadness of the CIVL and INAO proposed GCs represents a further big ratchet downwards in the credibility of the term, especially since exclusion of Faugères and inclusion of Grès de Montpellier seems eccentric at best.

As for Germany, as less and less top producers abide by the definitions of the 1971 law (too lax in Einsellage names in many cases and too easily confused with Grosslage names) and create their private GGs etc., I would favour resurrection of the Prussian vineyard classifications for tax purposes in the areas where they made them. But it won't happen.

Meanwhile there is no substitute for knowledge of the names of good producers, particular in young areas for quality wine like Languedoc and Roussillon, where new estates are springing up all the time.
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3862
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:34 pm

Here`s one for you to hunt down Tim..St Chinian Blanc!

http://languedocwinetales.blogspot.com/
User avatar
Bob Parsons Alberta
aka Doris
 
Posts: 9503
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Carl Eppig » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:58 pm

2008 Domain Jean-marc Lafage Côté Sud, Vin de Pays Catalanes ($11.99 U.S. Whole Foods). Alcohol level: 14%. This is a blend of Grenache 50%, Syrah 30%, and Cabernet Sauvignon 20%. It had a plastic closure.

A bright, high-toned red wine on the eye, it is fruity on the nose and upfront. It crosses the palate with dark berry fruits, including black berries, blueberries, and cherries, with a pepper spice note. It has a touch of tannin on the long finish.

We matched it with broiled Australian lamb loin chops, sourdough biscuits, and a lemony salad. It hardly gets better for a Tuesday night!
Carl Eppig
Our Maine man
 
Posts: 3993
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:38 pm
Location: Middleton, NH, USA

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:26 am

WTN: `07 Clos du Gravillas Sous les Cailloux des Grillons, Vin de Pays des Cotes de Brian.

Owner John Bojanowski posted here earlier this month and his wines showed up in Calgary early last year. Blend of Syrah, Cab Sauv, Mourvedre, Carignan, Counoise, Grenache, Terret Gris.
$22 Cdn, 13% alc, good natural cork, cellared one year. I decanted for an hour, no sediment noted. Unoaked, organic, domaine located in Saint-Jean area.

Color. Medium ruby-red, centre not quite opaque.

Nose. Earthy, spice, blueberry, black fruits melange. Holds up well overnight.

Palate. Initial entry thought was dry, old world style, soft tannins, plenty of black fruits here. Long finish, good acidity. Blackcurrant, cherry, not super complex but has nice old world character "Dansom plums" from across the table. Find this quite savoury, lots of appeal. Lip smacking delight on day 2, need to keep eye on Metrovino for new vintages from here.

Under the Rocks Crickets is actually so named because St Jean de Minervois is completely covered by white limestone rocks (looks like snow–gravillas means gravel in patois) and, in the vineyard in question, there are always lots of crickets (when it’s not below zero…).

Just found this new writeup on Camplazens (a wine known to some of us) from the Wine Doctor...>

http://www.thewinedoctor.com/tastingsfo ... 2011.shtml
Last edited by Bob Parsons Alberta on Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Bob Parsons Alberta
aka Doris
 
Posts: 9503
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:46 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:WTN: `07 Clos du Gravillas Sous les Cailloux des Grillons, Vin de Pays des Cotes de Brian.

Owner John Bojanowski posted here earlier this month and his wines showed up in Calgary early last year. Blend of Syrah, Cab Sauv, Mourvedre, Carignan, Counoise, Grenache, Terret Gris.
$22 Cdn, 13% alc, good natural cork, cellared one year. I decanted for an hour, no sediment noted. Unoaked, organic, domaine located in Saint-Jean area.

Color. Medium ruby-red, centre not quite opaque.

Nose. Earthy, spice, blueberry, black fruits melange. Holds up well overnight.

Palate. Initial entry thought was dry, old world style, soft tannins, plenty of black fruits here. Long finish, good acidity. Blackcurrant, cherry, not super complex but has nice old world character "Dansom plums" from across the table. Find this quite savoury, lots of appeal. Lip smacking delight on day 2, need to keep eye on Metrovino for new vintages from here.

Under the Rocks Crickets is actually so named because St Jean de Minervois is completely covered by white limestone rocks (looks like snow–gravillas means gravel in patois) and, in the vineyard in question, there are always lots of crickets (when it’s not below zero…).


This is John's entry level red, I think. I tasted the 09 version at the recent Brussels Languedoc do and described it as "seductively fruity and supple". Two extra years ageing with your bottle seems to have done no harm at all; 2007 was a fine year in the area. The two more ambitious reds were both from 2007 and showed more depth and complexity; I particularly liked the Lo Vièhl old vine Carignan.

This estate is now very firmly on my radar screen but I have to go Liège to get the wines.
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3862
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:50 am

Thanks Tim, have the `05 Lo Vièhl old vine Carignan in the cellar. Newer vintages are now in Calgary! Have you seen his Muscat?
Back to bed.
User avatar
Bob Parsons Alberta
aka Doris
 
Posts: 9503
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Joe Moryl » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:30 am

Carl Eppig wrote:2008 Domain Jean-marc Lafage Côté Sud, Vin de Pays Catalanes ($11.99 U.S. Whole Foods). Alcohol level: 14%. This is a blend of Grenache 50%, Syrah 30%, and Cabernet Sauvignon 20%. It had a plastic closure.

A bright, high-toned red wine on the eye, it is fruity on the nose and upfront. It crosses the palate with dark berry fruits, including black berries, blueberries, and cherries, with a pepper spice note. It has a touch of tannin on the long finish.

We matched it with broiled Australian lamb loin chops, sourdough biscuits, and a lemony salad. It hardly gets better for a Tuesday night!


Carl, thanks for the note. I've found the white version of this (Cote Est) a refreshing summer drink, and wondered what the red was like. Funny, but I seem to recall the white having a screwcap.
Joe Moryl
Wine guru
 
Posts: 709
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:38 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Carl Eppig » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:39 pm

Joe Moryl wrote:I seem to recall the white having a screwcap.


Joe, I don't know what vintage your white was, but they may have started using screwcaps after '08.
Carl Eppig
Our Maine man
 
Posts: 3993
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:38 pm
Location: Middleton, NH, USA

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:34 pm

Each month I hold a wine club where I set a theme and each couple brings a bottle. Last night was Faugeres/St Chinian. Here are my notes and some conclusions. I kept all the wines under Vacuvin and have included my notes from tonight. The second day is a big illuminator in my opinion.

Mas Olivier Faugeres 2008
Nice dusty, crunchy berries on nose but a whiff of the wine tank too. Light entry with nice balance. A bit simple but well-balaned wine. 14/20
This is a Cooperative wine which you can find in all the supermarkets in southern France for about 5€. It's not a bad wine for the price but utterly forgettable. I couldn't be bothered to taste it the next day. Sorry.

Domaine Monceze, Faugeres 2007
Deep colour.Big ripe fruit, slightly baked. Fruit feels overripe and stewed in the mouth. Enjoyable and hard to dislike in a voluptuous way. 15/20
I bought this for about 9€. The French members of the group liked it the best. The nest day it was still the same. Big and Port-like. It hadn't lost any vivacity though.

Domaine J-M Alquier, Les Primaires 2007, Faugeres
Aromatic red and black berries. A hint of schiste minerals. Nice crunchy fruit. Spicy mid-palate. Plenty of ripe fruit but good acid to balance. A touch of green pepper too. 16.5/20
Sells for 12€. The French members found this a bit green. The Brits rated it the best. Tonight it has the same qualities but a little more undergrowth complexity and a sort of mustard aroma too. Suberb wine IMO and the kind of Languedoc that can match Burdgundy (I can hear the wine snobs chortling from here - Lose your inhibitions, dullards!). 18/20

Mas des Agranelles, Coteaux du Languedoc 2006
Ripe berries, a hint of cheese and farmyard. Very subtle tannins. Smooth rich fruit. Some nice mineral structure and well balanced. 16/20
Bought for 7€. The rest of the group thought it slightly unclean and a touch bitter/astringent. It comes from just outside Montpellier so not quite in the same region. The day after this wine had changed the most. It had taken on a real pong of pig-farm. 15.5/20

Canet-Valette, Une et Mille Nuits, 2006, St Chinian
Good rich fruits - prunes and tobacco. Rich in mouth but texture a bit coarse. Some rough, bitter tannins on the finish. Ripe fruit but not much complexity. 14.5/20
Costs 10€. Next day the nose is more pungent with really lovely Tobacco. The palate however is quite hard and flat. Of all the wines it had died most quickly. 14/20. I'm perhaps in a minority here because this it a critics' darling of St Chinian.

I like to throw in a ringer and this week it was this:
Chocolate cake and a hint of menthol. Noticeable oak but in a good way. Palate is rich and deep with some attractive spicy characters. Good length. No real complexity in terms of minerality of undergrowth but has an attractive sweetness, 16/20
The majority of the group guessed it was a French Grenache. It was Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz. Would sell for about 14€ in France. Interestingly, once they heard it was Australian, they asked if it was made with oak chips. I'm pretty certian it isn't.
Next day it has opened up very nicely offering more ripe fruit, similar level of Christmas spice and perhaps a bit more sucrocity. 17/20
Jon Hesford
Wine geek
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:15 am

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:54 pm

I'm going to post this separately from my other post.

I've enjoyed reading and having the chance to write on this forum. What I've learnt in this short space of time is that that most North Americans only get to see lesser-known French (and probably other) regions through a very narrow and filtered lens.

My own experience is that a producer either needs a big review from the WA/WS or to be chosen by one of the key importers. These wines tend to fall into three groups. The Parker-pointers, the weird and funky biodynamic stuff and the big market-chasers. I like none of them. Thankfully most of the notes I've seen here do not pertain to too many of those wines. So there is hope.

You ( in North America) have a much better view of our wine than the French do of yours. The average French wine lover only ever sees the dregs of the New World. I would not be surprised to find that the French govenrment import those wines just to make us feel we are still in an eminent position. If all you could ever buy was Echo Falls, Yellow Tail and Turning Leaf you'd be justified in thinking there is nothing to worry about.
Jon Hesford
Wine geek
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:15 am

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:14 pm

Jon Hesford wrote:Domaine J-M Alquier, Les Primaires 2007, Faugeres
Aromatic red and black berries. A hint of schiste minerals. Nice crunchy fruit. Spicy mid-palate. Plenty of ripe fruit but good acid to balance. A touch of green pepper too. 16.5/20
Sells for 12€. The French members found this a bit green. The Brits rated it the best. Tonight it has the same qualities but a little more undergrowth complexity and a sort of mustard aroma too. Suberb wine IMO and the kind of Languedoc that can match Burdgundy (I can hear the wine snobs chortling from here - Lose your inhibitions, dullards!). 18/20



I am a big fan of Alquier. I find that they have a lot more elegance and focus than most from Languedoc. I don't find your reference to Burgundy fanciful but would find Côte Rôtie or a Crozes-Hermitage from Graillot closer parallels.

My own experience is that a producer either needs a big review from the WA/WS or to be chosen by one of the key importers. These wines tend to fall into three groups. The Parker-pointers, the weird and funky biodynamic stuff and the big market-chasers. I like none of them. Thankfully most of the notes I've seen here do not pertain to too many of those wines. So there is hope.


From the relatively few TN from our American friends, it does seem as if there is a problem of lack of interest in or availability of wines from the French south in the USA (or a vicious circle of both factors feeding on each other). And the three groups which you identify are not likely to appeal greatly to the population of this board. Is there not work for the CIVL and CIVR here to organise promotion campaigns with vigneron tastings across the USA on the lines carried out (according to David Creighton here) by the Cahors people? I would expect the Languedoc and Roussillon styles to have wider appeal than the austere classicism of real Cahors.

We are lucky here in Belgium. For example La Cave des Oblats in Liège carries a wonderful range and there are good ones at TGVins/Le Vin Passion and La Maison des Vins in Brussels.

You ( in North America) have a much better view of our wine than the French do of yours. The average French wine lover only ever sees the dregs of the New World.


It's the same here in Belgium for US wine; only the likes of Gallo and Kendall Jackson are readily available. There are specialist importers with good ranges of wines from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentine (more in Flanders than in Brussels/Wallonia) but I know of none with a decent range of US wine. I think that the main problem is the high price of "hand crafted" Californian wine which makes very difficult the seeding of a sceptical market. On a more hopeful note the RVF (widely read here in Belgium) has been devoting a lot more space to the world's wines over the last three years or so and I think that the availability has improved even in France (probably mainly in Paris).
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3862
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:20 am

Tim,
The "Sud de France" marketing team are planning several things to try and address this problem of their wines not being widely available or well-regarded or sought-after in the USA. Like you I think the wines should have appeal but perhaps they are not seen as offering anything that cannot be made domestically.

They are planning 5 "actions" in the US, all in New York. Two of them are trade tasting to allow new producers to show their wares to the trade. One is strictly for organic wines. The other two tastings will be put on by Sud de France around the themes of "under $20" and "Vins Primés", which means wines which have been rated by WA or WS. The last event is a Festival in June which could be anything.

By contrast, they are holding 9 events in China and 14 throughout Asia.

The CIVR are using the same techniques they have used in the UK, which is to target "infuencers" like Sommelliers and Wine Educators, often using the Roussillon's old sweet wines to add interest and emphasising the diversity. I personally see this as a smart move. Much more effective than posters with some pretty French girl sipping wine.

In all the other countries, the primary means of promotion is the professional Salon. Importers, distributors and retailers all get to meet the producers and taste the wines. This doesn't seem to happen in the US. I assume because of the 3-tier system. The beauty of the Languedoc-Roussillon is the diversity of wines and huge number of small producers crafting brilliant wines at attractive, though not bargain-basement, prices. The US distribution model and the Languedoc production model do not seem well aligned.

There also seems to be an emphasis on American ownership or at least partnership in the vineyard. A lot of the wines from our area that can be found in the States are from vineyards notionally owned by US importers.

I'm not sure whether this comes about because of a demand from the consumer or because the importer wants to have more control over the prodcution, allocation and price of the wines they selling. My gut feeling is that it is the latter. If you look at the three-tier model, you can imagine how long it takes from an importer finding a wine they like to actually selling that wine to a retailer. In my own experience, both times I've been asked to supply an order for the US, I've completely sold out of the wine because it has been 6 to 9 months since the samples were sent with little or no communication in the meantime. On the other hand, I'm sure it's an easier sell if the importer can say the wine is from their own vineyards, showing lots of nice photos of them pretending to prune vines and tread grapes :)
Jon Hesford
Wine geek
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:15 am

PreviousNext

Return to The Wine Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bob Parsons Alberta, Dale Williams, Google [Bot], Jon Leifer, Majestic-12 [Bot] and 6 guests