Why this sudden spate of TNs from me? Simply because Spring never seems to arrive. Vegetation is in some cases 6 weeks later than last year. The maximum temperature is scarcely 10°C (50°F) and it has been raining for 24 hours. At least this gives me the opportunity to catch up with my backlog of indoor tasks, including a month's TNs.
Cornas 2003 – Franck Balthazar – Alc.13.5%. This was a “wow” in its youth, a bottle in 2009 confirmed its early promise and had civilised some of its excesses but another a year ago had turned porty and full of varnish, so I opened this one with misgivings. Happily it was back on form with well developed with notes of bright red and black fruit with a lot of sour cherry, a dash of wet leather and earthy minerals on the nose and a full bodied palate, complex and invigorating with lively acidity, pungently tangy and savoury fruit, pepper, crisp minerals and excellent firm tannic support towards the long finish. Very good 16.5/20.
Chinon Les Granges 2011 – Bernard Baudry – Alc.12.5%. This is a model Chinon for drinking young with delicious fruit with a typical noble “green” edge and charcoal notes as well as lively minerals and acidity. From memory I think that the 2010 was slightly fuller at a similar stage. Very good 16/20.
Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes Cuvée traditionnelle 2012 – Domaine du Vissoux, Martine & Pierre-Marie Chermette – Alc.12%. Chermette says that the main problem with 2012 was low quantities and I agree that, on this evidence, quality does not seem to be deficient; lots of quaffable tasty fruit and a surprising amount of backbone for a “light” year; good 15.5/20.
Fleurie Poncié 2011 – Domaine du Vissoux, Martine & Pierre-Marie Chermette – Alc.12.5%. This was more refined and charming than the previous as is appropriate for Fleurie but not markedly fuller as the vintage might lead one to expect. Delicious 16/20.
Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne Haut-Coustias 2001 – Domaine de l’Oratoire Saint-Martin – Alc.13.5% - was distinctly fresher and more lively than my recent bottles of 2000 and 2003. This is a lovely Mourvèdre dominated southern Rhône with still firm tannic structure (though my impression of this may have been enhanced by having just returned from a tasting). Very good 16.5/20.
Pays de l’Hérault IGP Old Vines Carignan Les Crouzes 2012 – Producteurs Réunis A F34360 – Alc.12.5% - (c.€5). I picked this out at a tasting for its full bodied burgeoning spicy fruit and liquorice tinge towards the finish. At home, I noticed that, with some pairings, the liquorice veers towards dry caramel which I dislike but overall I am happy with this buy. The seller knew nothing about the producer but, judging by “Old Vines” and a back-label in English as well as by a Google search, it seems aimed at the UK market. Good 15/20+ QPR!