Friday, 27 April 2012

From the Southern Rhone to Canterbury

Last night was my annual jaunt to the south of Kent for a tasting with the group. Group chairman/secretary (I am never sure what the roles are), Keith Powis had been called away so there was quite a different dynamic than usual but he was missed. The tasting was very lively and the wines were well received - all showing rather well.

The wines I took along (one non-Rhone but who's counting?) were:

White wines
Mourchon, Côtes du Rhône 2010 “La Source”
DomaineTreloar, VDP Côtes Catalan 2010 “Terre Promis” (really lovely wine, coming together well)

Red wines
Domaine deCristia, VDP Mediterrannée 2010 (mini-Chateauneuf, excellent price)
Domaine de la Charité, Côtes du Rhône 2010 (very pure CDR)

Perrin, Vinsobres 2009 “Les Cornuds”
Raymond Usseglio, Côtes du Rhône 2009 (mini-Chateauneuf, a real contender)

Domaine Bressy-Masson, Rasteau 2009 “Paul-Emile” (just gorgeous)
Domaine des Côteaux des Travers, Rasteau-CDR Villages 2007 “Prestige” (masterful)

Domaine de Cristia, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 (classic but modern)
Raymond Usseglio, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006 “Impèriale” (majestic)

Dessert wine
Domaine des Côteaux desTravers, Rasteau 2007 (maturing nicely - some Rancio character emerging)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Herts Fine Wine Society

Just back from Easter in the Vaucluse (a working holiday, at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it) and straight into a wine tasting for a group I haven't met before but who received me generously on Monday evening and seemed to like the wines I presented.

First up was a pair of whites: Mourchon's Viognier "La Source", a wine for the summer and Coteaux des Travers' more serious and ageworthy (but not dissimilar) "Marine". Both wines have lots of Viognier and Roussanne so are highly aromatic. On the night, the Mourchon offered the easier drinking but the CDT is clearly the master here.

Easing into the reds, Cristia's 2009 CDP Grenache "Vieilles Vignes" is just about there now, the wood which was, perhaps, a little too evident is beginning to give way to some sweet, fragrant fruit with a Burgundian elegance. I defy any Grenache detractor not to enjoy this wine with a summer lunch.

Next, a pair of classic wines: Bressy-Masson's 2009 Rasteau "Paul-Emile" is remarkably forward and richly fruited (I will have to dig out my own case) and Brusset's 2007 Gigondas "Le Grand Montmirail", a typically modern-style wine with oodles of sweet cherry fruit.

The Chateauneufs were all quite serious - Herts wanted to try some of the best wines in the range - beginning with Christophe Coste's debut vintage of Chateau Capucine. This 2009 was showing well already with its pure Grenache fruit wonderfully soft and expressive. A seamless wine. Followed by two atypical CdPs from Cristia (again) and Raymond Usseglio. Cristia's 2009 "Renaissance" is a power house but not overwhelming, the gorgeous black fruit (from the 40% Mourvedre) integrated perfectly with the 100-year-old Grenache. Stef Usseglio's 2007 debut "La Parte des Anges" is a whopping 70% Mourvedre so I had double decanted it a few hours earlier. The subtle aromas of coffee added to the chocolate and black fruit characters. Delicious: it was a great shame that I had to spit out any of these wines but I was driving so had no choice.

The last red was another wine from Christophe Coste; his 2007 "Les Ombres". From such a ripe vintage, this has New World nuances but I do mean that in a good way - for all my ranting about Aussie wines, I do like a good cool climate Syrah (I just can't afford it). The oak used to age this wine has dissipated and what we are left with is a top drawer Southern Rhone Syrah, a refreshing antidote to all those big Chateauneufs.

Even more refreshing was the "Hommage" Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from Domaine des Bernardins that wrapped up the tasting. Christmas in a glass is the best way to describe this exquisite wine - it works for me at Easter too.

World Malbec Day... yesterday

An Argentinian initiative but, frankly, when you get beyond the £6 or £7 wines they do well, I think you are better off looking at Cahors. OK, so I am spoilt for choice with my relationships with Cedre, Lamartine and Haut-Monplaisir but these estates all prove that it is possible to make wines that burst with fruit (in the same way as the Argentinian wines do) but don't leave a saccharine taste in the mouth; rather, they have superb structures to go with burly meats like duck (an obvious choice given they come from the South-West), lamb (think Agneau de Quercy) and a juicy, bloody steak. Sadly, I didn't have any input into last night's meal which was chicken wings so no Malbec for me. Tonight, however, lamb shanks - not the most obvious dish for Cahors but I have to make amends somehow.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Astonishing wine from 1978

Puig Parahy is not a name that is well known but it deserves to be. Georges Puig makes some very good wines at his family's estate in the Roussillon region of southern France but what the family has long excelled at is offering mature vintages of exquisite Rivesaltes Rancio wines.

When we visited the estate just before Easter 2011, we were fortunate to arrive a couple of hours after The Wine Advocate's reviewer for this region had left. That meant that not only were there bottles out for tasting meant for us but older vintages of both the table wines and the Rivesaltes. Indeed, this was the first time in my life I tasted a wine older than anyone I have ever - to the best of my knowledge - met.

The youngest wine was a 2009, nowhere near ready for bottling but showing good potential. The 2005 was already displaying some of the Rancio characteristics and, skipping the odd bottle here and there (not that I did during the tasting), I found that a jump of six years seemed to bring on new delights. Then came 1978 which was a real turning point between the younger wines and the more mature wines. Incredible Rancio character, all figs and raisins, chocolate and nuts with wonderful oxidation that combines all these ingredients so well. After nearly a year, the memory has faded very slightly so I am opening another bottle as I write...