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Showing posts from May, 2009

When Chateauneuf gets tired

Clos des Brusquieres' owner Claude Courthil sold everything off to negociants until the 1996 vintage, the first to be estate bottled. We began buying the wines with the 1998 vintage, followed by the 2001.

Claude is something of a loner, spending most of his time quietly in the fields or at the winery, gradually improving the quality of his small production. Most of his eight and a half hectares is to the north of the village on stony soil. An indication of Claude's reserve, we learnt after we had already purchased a parcel of his 1998 wines that Claude's uncle - and mentor - is the legendary Henri Bonneau, one of the most revered winemakers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Whilst Claude would not suggest that his wines are in the same league as those of Oncle Henri, they are good examples of the traditional style of wines from the region which is fast becoming history in the pursuit of Parker points and other trophies.

One problem - for me - with this style of wine is that bottling…

Vintages - a lesson in words

Tonight, a bottle of Domaine Peysson's 2007 Vinsobres (they have a 20€ bottle called "La Grande Chloe" which is very good but the regular bottling is far better value at 7.2€ from the cellar door). The fruit is young but approachable with a very attractive perfume, contributed by the oak which smells and tastes quite new. A lot for the money!

I was talking with Xavier Vignon a couple of weeks ago (he of "Debut" fame). As oenologist to several hundred estates in the region, he knows the area better than anyone (even Mr Parker!) so it's always worth paying attention when he talks. I had said that I thought there are some superb values in Vinsobres which, although it had recently been elevated to Cru status, prices have not caught up yet. Xavier agreed but then went on to tell me how truly awful many of the 2008s are going to be. Apparently this area of the valley was worst hit by the rains in the run up to the harvest.

This just goes to show that whilst I have…

Wine Anorak's Jamie Goode praises Domaine de Mourchon's 2007 Tradition

Walter McKinlay gets 10/10 for good publicity. One wonders if he has enough bottles left to sell after all the samples tasted (and clearly enjoyed) by the press. Already this year I have encountered dozens of reviews of his wines all heaping praise on the wines made at his southern Rhone estate. Today it is Jamie Goode's turn to enthuse about the 2007 CDR Villages Seguret from Domaine de Mourchon

"A beautiful expression of the southern Rhone, this is a deep clooured wine with lovely sweet dark cherry, blackberry and plum fruit aromatics as well as hints of meat and spice. The palate shows lovely sweet vivid fruit but with added meat and pepper complexity adding a deliciously savoury counter to the ripe fruit. It's dense and well structured but lush and smooth at the same time. Really successful,: modern but interesting with plenty of non-fruit complexity." 91/100

Ariving soon!

Domaine de Mourchon in the Wine Spectator

James Molsworth of the Wine Spectator has been heaping praise on Walter McKinlay's 2006 and 2007 wines from his spectacularly situated estate - Domaine de Mourchon - in Seguret. I have tasted all these wines recently (at the Domaine at Christmas and Easter and on Wednesday at the LIWF - as well as the 2006 a couple of times in between) so it is interesting to know what others think after I have made up my own mind.

Top of the pile is the 2007 Family Reserve "G" (the pure Grenache cuvee) which scored 91 points with the words "Very enticing with blueberry, fig and boysonberry fruit laced with spice, fruitcake and melted liquorice notes. The long perfume- and graphite-filled finish is nicely rounded and plenry deep." 200 cases made. There are differences of opinion as to whether this wine should be enjoyed in its fruit-filled youth or held on to see how it develops. I think it has all the necessary ingredients and will certainly hold back a couple of bottles for th…

South West France at the London International Wine Fair - Part II: the health benefits

Dr Roger Corder of the William Harvey Research Institute followed Anthony Rose's guide to the wines with a fascinating lecture on his research into the health benefits of certain wines from south-west France - the so-called French Paradox - as discussed in his book "The Red Wine Diet".

The French Paradox concerns the lower number of coronary deaths in south-west France despite the fatty diet (think duck: foie gras, duck breast etc). The relationship with wine consumption came to the fore in 1991 when Professors Serge Reynaud and R Curtis Ellison suggested the link on 60 Minutes, sparking a surge in red wine consumption which continues today. Dr Corder showed a graph illustrating the very low number of deaths in high consumption countries such as Italy and, especially, France compared with the very low consumption countries with Scotland and Finland topping the list (of course, this doesn't make those places unhealthy to live in, just the typical diet and, perhaps, oth…

South West France at the London International Wine Fair - Part I: the tasting

This week is, of course, the most gruelling in the UK wine trade's calendar. The LIWF takes place over three days at Excel in east London. Each year I try to attend a special regional tasting or a seminar - this year it was a bit of both.

The session began with a tasting of nine very different wines from all over the South West of France which, when lumped together, is the fourth largest viticultural region in France (after Bordeaux, the Rhone and the Languedoc) with 18 distinct appellations, we were told by Anthony Rose who lead the tasting.

First was a white from Gaillac (Domaine Rotier), a blend of 50% Loin de l'Oeil and 50% Sauvignon Blanc. These were cropped low for concentration and partially oak fermented to reveal a wine with medium body and tangy, peachy, juicy fruit with a slightly herby finish. A revelation for me as my previous experiences have been of rather dilute wines from this region (except for Rotier's sweet wine).

Next, from Domaine des Cassagnoles, a 100%…

A mixed dozen from the Rhone at Canterbury

Every year I am invited to show a selection of Rhone wines to the Canterbury Wine Tasting Society which meets at Christchurch College (it has probably changed its name in the years since I have been going along). Having just returned from the Rhone, it seemed a good opportunity to put some 2007s in front of this discerning crowd along with a selection of older wines.

Just a couple of white wines: to start with, Domaine des Anges' 2007 "L'Archange" Blanc from the recently renamed Ventoux appellation. This is Irish winemaker Ciaran Rooney's flagship pure Roussanne cuvee although, unless they have changed the rules, I should probably pretend it has some Marsanne mixed in (monovarietals are - or, at least, were - not permitted in the Ventoux). This is a wine still in the making although it is rather nice to drink now. I had my penultimate bottle of the inaugural vintage, 2004, quite recently: that has grown wonderfully fat with age and I can only dream of the directio…