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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.

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