The Society's chairman, Colin Wagstaff, asked me to present a selection of Southern Rhone wines last night which, of course, I was pleased to do. The venue is the upstairs room of a pub in Dulwich Village with around 35 or so members present. They like to take a break half-way through for cheese etc and, having recently returned from the Rhone, I decided this provided a good opportunity to slip in a few "en primeur" wines.
Starting with a couple of whites, Domaine des Anges' regular bottling from 2009 was well received because of its tasty fruit but, perhaps even more, behind the fruit lay a good structure which, now Ciaran is moving towards organics, is more apparent. This was followed by Xavier Vignon's white "Debut" (or, simply, "Xavier") which is atypical, having a Chardonnay base (actually, it's not really a Rhone wine; rather a vin de table, originating from both the Rhone and the Languedoc. Impressive though but some of us felt it needed a little longer to mesh together.
The 2009 reds came next, first a simple Cotes du Rhone from Domaine Bressy-Masson. Actually, not at all simple; the fruit is superb and there is a good tannic structure too. The wine needs another year or two really, then it will be more Rasteau than CDR in style. Domaine de Cristia's old-vine Grenache VDP followed, the sweet oak better integrated now than a few months ago. Almost Burgundian in style, very pure and delicious. The third of the EP selection was, however, one of the stars of the tasting: Christophe Coste's first vintage in Chateauneuf-du-Pape at his newly created Chateau Capucine was a revelation of what old-vine Grenache can really be when not messed around with. Amazing texture and purity. Very drinkable already!
After the break, we went back a couple of years to 2007 with Domaine des Anges' red "Archange", from 90% Syrah, the blackest wine of the night. It still betrays some of Ciaran's New World start in the wine world although more cool climate Aussie Syrah than jammy Barossa Shiraz. Very good - the chap who helped me open bottles accidentally opened the spare I had brought along so this was enjoyed when I got home later on! Domaine des Coteaux des Travers' Rasteau Prestige from 2007 was the only wine that really needs to develop further to bring the alcohol in line with other structural elements. Domaine Brusset's 2007 Gigondas "Le Grand Montmirail" had a slightly farmyardy nose but opened up magnificently.
Back another couple of years, Domaine Grand Veneur's Lirac "Clos des Sixte" 2005 still seems quite youthful, a characteristic of the vintage, perhaps, but with a great future (and it was not exactly unenjoyable now!) and Raymond Usseglio's Chateauneuf from the same vintage showed its class, a superb wine with wonderful mouthfeel and flavours. Even more concentrated was Domaine de Mourchon's 2006 Seguret-Cotes du Rhone Villages "Family Reserve", a truly luxurious wine.