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September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Robin Garr » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:00 pm

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I think we're going to love this one! For September the South of France comes into our view. We're talking about Provence, Languedoc-Rousillon, and the Southern Rhône in particular, although we'll make room for anything south of Burgundy and Bordeaux. Bonnes personnes, tire tes bouchons!
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:07 pm

Boss..terrific. Have some nice S France reds put aside!
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:35 am

There is no difficulty in my contributing to this one! I take it to cover mainly Mediterranean and S.Rhône wines, so I'll exclude the Sud-Ouest from which I consume a lot, but will allow myself the indulgence of including an excellent Cornas from my last week's drinking in spite of the fact that N.Rhône wines are differentiated by a freshness and acidic elegance of a more northerly kind.

1996 Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (8/30/2018)
Perhaps this tasted more of ageing wine that its predecessor bottles but nevertheless one of the best. One can tell that this was a high acidity vintage but any astringency has been fully tamed and, on the nose and medium weight palate, there was liveliness in the notes of sour cherry, grilled rare meat, leather, minerals, rusty metal and olive together with delightful hints of old book and more velvety texture than before. Excellent.

2015 Mas Centeilles - Patricia Boyer Minervois Sot-l'y-laisse - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Minervois (8/27/2018)
This is very different from most Languedoc red, I guess mainly due the dominance of Cinsault in this blend with Syrah and Grenache. It is medium bodied at most with an attractive combination of cherry infused fruit, peppery spices, softish texture and fresh acidity and the shape on the palate is linear and quite long with sufficient support on the finish. Maybe not a flavour profile for every day but very good occasionally.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:06 am

Knew you would be ready Tim! Nice note on the Minervois.

This is the second bottle of a recent Ventoux, notes very similar to bottle #1 previously posted here..

2015 Chateau La Croix des Pins Les Trois Villages Ventoux, Southern Rhone.

Good natural cork, 14% alc, opened for one hour, did not decant. Nice depth of color,obvious spice.,and red fruits on the nose Initial entry thought was still had a slight spritz at first, tip of the tongue sweetness. Ready to drink style, soft tannins here.
Raspberry, framboise, very nice and easy to drink "eventhough it shows some complexity" from across the table. Went well with braised chicken legs in a basil tomato sauce.

***think I have some nice white gems to pull from the cellar
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by David M. Bueker » Sun Sep 02, 2018 4:04 pm

I just hope the weather cools off, so I can open some Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Robin Garr » Sun Sep 02, 2018 4:54 pm

Tim York wrote:... I'll exclude the Sud-Ouest from which I consume a lot ...

No worries, Tim, the Sud-Ouest does fit the "south of Burgundy and Bordeaux" criteria, so post on if you like!
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:04 pm

So how many here are thinking S FR Chardonnay!! Well, I just picked up the 2016 Novellum Chard from Domaine Lafarge. Could be of interest, read Costco carry it.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Wed Sep 05, 2018 6:42 am

There is a mine of sturdy S.Rhône reds available at reasonable prices providing quaffable sweetish fruited, Grenache dominated Mediterranean style wines, if high alcohol is not a deterrent. Here is an example.

2016 La Pierradière Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages (9/4/2018)
This is the entry level CDRV from the Sablet village co-operative which I chose to accompany a peppery stew of the hachis parmentier kind. It was ideal for this use with its medium++ body, brambly fruit, spice and liquorice tinged rusticity. Not a refined drink but a good honest quaff at the fair price of c.€7.

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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Wed Sep 05, 2018 6:48 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:So how many here are thinking S FR Chardonnay!! Well, I just picked up the 2016 Novellum Chard from Domaine Lafarge. Could be of interest, read Costco carry it.


Bob, I'm wary of Chardonnay from S.France as indeed from any warm climate. There is a tendency towards flabby wines with too much sweetness and insufficient acidity and minerality, at least for my taste. There are exceptions, of course, notably at Limoux, from where I recall a deliciously tense and mineral Chard made by Domaine de Mouscaillo. Higher altitudes and certain soil types help.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:46 pm

TN: 2013 Chateau Ricardelle Coteaux de Languedoc La Clape.

I continue to be a big La Clape fan and this one did not falter (have 3 bottles in the cellar).
Good natural cork, cellared 2 yrs, $28 Cdn I think, 14% alc. 40% Grencahe, 30% Syrah, 30% Carignan. Decanted for an hour, still good on day 3.

Very nice deep plum color. Attractive nose, only slight development, black and red fruits. Initial entry thought is evolved tannins, do not overpower, pepper, fair acidity, nice length, big finish. Not that meaty as some , some olives here. Think will be interesting to try again in 2 yrs.
Food was braised steak with mushrooms and veggies.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by John S » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:41 am

I have a fair number of southern France, in part due to a couple of trips to the Roussillon Languedoc area.

  • 2012 Château de Lancyre Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup Grande Cuvée - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup (2018-08-27)
    Had this last night, and was quite impressed. Compared to the Vielles Vignes, it is more concentrated, more 'serious', with the very light oak touch adding structure and texture. Very smooth on the medium to full bodied palate, with the fruit almost taking a backseat to the game and herb notes. The mourvedre in this blend adds a 'bass' note and increases complexity. Ready to drink now, but I think this could improve and last quite a while. Impressive. (A-)
  • 2010 Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas La Louisiane - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Gigondas (2018-06-27)
    Hazy notes from a few days ago. Very smooth and velvety on the medium-full bodied palate, with rich flavours of plum, game, dark cherries and a hint of garrigue. Modern in style, without the structure I would like, but a solid Gigondas that still has years left. (B+)
  • 2015 Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon (2018-06-18)
    Really enjoyed this again. Notes are from the second night open. Straw coloured with some green tints, with cantalope, green apples and minerals on the nice nose. Lots more minerality on the medium bodied palate, with nice acidity and yet a rich, butterscotch note appearing at the end of the long, powerful, viscous finish. This is starting to evolve a bit, and is a great QPR wine to me. (A-)
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:08 pm

Know the reds from Lancyre very well. I have just opened the Lafage Novellum Chardonnay so expecting a nice white as it airs.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:48 pm

The most spectacular impovement in wines from Languedoc and Roussillon over the last generation comes from its whites. In the 80s most of their whites were bland, heavy and over-alcoholic. Nowadays the best producers, e.g. Gauby, Roc des Anges and others in Roussillon and Mas Jullien, Les Aurelles and others in Languedoc, make whites with marked nervous tension and minerality to render digestible more traditional Mediterranean flavours. Often they spurn the AOP and use the IGP in order to have greater freedom with grape varieties. Most of the improvement comes from more skilled husbandry in the vineyard, avoiding over maturity of the grapes and better work in the cellars but more generalised aircon undoubtedly helps. Here is an example of what I am trying to describe.

2014 Mas Jullien Vin de Pays de l'Hérault - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l'Hérault (9/9/2018)
IMO Mas Jullien produces some of the finest reds in Languedoc. This white made from Carignan blanc, Roussanne, Chenin & Viognier is sharply focussed showing lively white fruit with minerals, fresh acidity and a saline backbone and also a sprinkling of ginger and Mediterranean herbs and an underlying roundness typical of a Mediterranean rim wine. It may develop more complexity with ageing. Very good but quite fully priced at c.€32.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:52 am

When a staff member downtown (he has a pretty good palate) mentioned a nice Chardonnay from S France, I tried to hide my scepticism, but when I saw that Domaine Lafage was the producer, my eyes lit up!

TN: 2016 Domaine Lafage Chardonnay Novellum, Languedoc-Roussillon.

Attractive looking modern package, good natural cork, $24 Cdn. I resisted serving the wine too chilled and I think it showed better for it. Think I read somewhere in my research that some viognier might have been added?
Pale yellow in color, showed some nice pineapple and pear on the nose. Some lemon citrus hints too I thought. "Hint of oak" from across the table..could be? Initial entry thought is crisp, lightish, soft tannin, good acidity. Melon quite obvious and grapefruit too, apple, medium length. Had to think it could have been a Chard from anywhere really, so many different styles world-wise eh. Smooth finish and great with some pot stickers.

**seemed nicely balanced on day 2, bit more depth and character. Seems to be a huge Costco sellar!

2011 Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc.

Cellared 4 yrs, $25 Cdn, good natural cork, decanted one hour, 14% alc. 60% Syrah, 35 Grenache, 5 Mourvedre.

Still shows good color, no sign of bricking. Spicy nose, plum I guess. Black fruits, earthy , not too alcoholic.
Initial entry thought is still very young, tannic, good acidity but needs to soften. Blackberry quite apparent, spice and pepper. 2 glasses was enough, leave rest for day 2.
Big change..good news. Much softer finish, hint of ripe fruit. Rustic tone evaporated (!), needed food for sure.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by David M. Bueker » Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:47 pm

2014 Domaine Jean Royer Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Tradition - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (9/14/2018)
All the notes I have read from a year ago speak to this being raw, unformed and even a bit hot. I never had it back then, so cannot do a real comparison, but I did not experience any of those things. To me his was right down the middle, typical Chateauneuf du Pape. Dusty berry fruit, warm herbal tones and dry earth made up the medium weight package. It was enjoyable on its own, and a partner to food. It’s nothing profound, but it’s a very nice drink.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:21 am

Many wine-lovers follow Robert Parker in considering Châteauneuf du Pape one of the great wines of the world. IMO there are much stronger candidates in the South of France for that position, for example Bandol, Trévallon in the Alpilles and Grange des Pères, Mas Jullien, Auphilac and Peyre-Rose in Languedoc as well as Gauby (if you accept a brett risk) and Clos des Fées in Roussillon. Whilst good CndP is usually enjoyable in a full throated, unctuously fruited and alcoholic way, I rarely find the finesse and harmony which goes with my idea of a really great wine (Rayas being a regular exception). Here is an outstanding Bandol drunk last night.

1996 Domaine Tempier Bandol Cuvée Spéciale La Tourtine - France, Provence, Bandol (9/16/2018)
Mature Tempier Bandol is one of the greatest delights in my diminishing collection and is my default go-to choice with lamb. This bottle was one of the very best showing medium++ body, still fresh strawberry and plum infused fruit, balsamic and tar touches with perhaps a hint of varnish, velvety texture, still lively acidity and a firm long finish with ripe resolved tannins. These words, however, don't properly convey the fragrant harmony of this wine. Excellent.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by David M. Bueker » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:35 am

Not many wine lovers follow Robert Parker anymore. He no longer covers the Southern Rhone.

He doesn't really cover much anymore.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:47 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Not many wine lovers follow Robert Parker anymore. He no longer covers the Southern Rhone.

He doesn't really cover much anymore.


Well, that's good news. I knew he was semi-retired but thought that the Rhone might be one of the last things he gave up. He undoubtedly helped to bring fame and wealth to some estates there, particularly in CndP and curiously I don't think that he caused big oak to make so many inroads there as he did in Bordeaux.

I'm grateful that AFAIK he did not promote strongly any of the other estates I mentioned in my post.
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WTN: Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence

by Robin Garr » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:25 pm

This organic Provence red is a very long-time favorite, so much so that I visited the winery the first chance I had.

Mas de Gourgonnier 2016 Les Baux de Provence ($17.99)

This Provence red is made with organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon (32%), Grenache (31%), Syrah (22%) and Carignan (15%) grapes. The Cabernet, a bit surprisingly for a Provence red, has been bumped up from a minor player to a major component in this vintage. The wine is fairly dark reddish-purple in color, shading to a clear edge. Delicious but not overbearing mixed-fruit aromas bring black plums, cherries and red berries to the table, carrying over on the palate in juicy, tart fruit shaped by crisp acidity and a soft edge of astringent tannins that work with modest 13% alcohol to keep it food-friendly. U.S. importers: Vintner Select, Mason, Ohio, and Skurnik Wines & Spirits, NYC. (Oct. 6, 2016)

FOOD MATCH: Steaks and burgers or grilled chicken would be fine with this natural red, as would be bean and cheese dishes. It was fine with pizza, too, both a classic Margherita and a more offbeat Greek pie with artichokes and feta.

WHEN TO DRINK: It should keep for a few years on its side at cool temperature, but I like to drink up Provence wines in this happy, easy style within three or four years of the vintage, then look for newer models.

VALUE:
My local $18 tab was within reach above Wine-Searcher.com's $16 U.S. average retail. It's certainly a fine value in the middle teens, and even more so if ou can catch up with the retailers offering it for $12 to $15 on Wine-Searcher.com.

WEB LINK
Importer Skurnik Wines & Spirits offers this detailed fact sheet for 2016 Mas de Gourgonnier.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and check prices for Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by John F » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:04 am

The Gourgonnier is such a consistent winner at a great value. We drink it a lot in the summer with grilled meats and a few minutes in the fridge to chill it off a bit....

I also tell my kids to look for this one in restaurants as a totally reliable wine that will never let them down and not break the bank
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:09 pm

Corsica is the French region whose wines I know least well but I like the reeds, whites and pinks I have so far tried. They are quite different from the lush mainland Med rim wines with a touch of herbal austerity which makes them refreshing and they mostly use local grape varieties well adapted to obtain freshness from the terroir. Here is an entry level example costing c.€11 at a posh caviste meaning probably €2-3 less elsewhere.

2015 Clos Sonnenta Corse Cava Ceppe - France, Corsica, Corse (9/20/2018)
This is a very enjoyable medium bodied red made in Corsica from organically grown Niellucciu and Syrah grapes. It showed lively tangy red fruit with a savoury complexion, a slight mineral and herbal rusticity, fresh acidity and an underlying suave roundness towards the finish which may come from the Syrah. This sounds a bit discordant but it worked well. Good for drinking in the next year or three.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:51 am

Re Mas de Gourgonnier -

32% Cabernet Sauvignon is certainly high for a wine bearing the appellation Les Baux de Provence. My Googling indicates that the maximum allowed is 20%.

In fact the Les Baux appellation has had an awkward relationship with CS. Éloi Durrbach, the owner of Domaine de Trevallon, has been the main inspiration behind the rise of the appellation over the last 40 years or so and his Grand Vin is a 50/50 CS/Syrah blend. Because the INAO is dead set on reducing the plantation of CS outside Bordeaux and the Sud-Ouest, they refused the appellation to Trevallon, which is now sold as a Vin de Pays, although it is arguably one of the world's great reds.

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, that the INA0 pleaded with Durrbach to plant just one Grenache vine so as to allow them to grant him the AOP. He would have nothing to do with such a charade.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Tim York » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:23 am

Another good white from the French Mediterranean rim -

2016 Domaine Pélaquié Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun Blanc - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun (9/22/2018)
Having been underwhelmed in the past by most Rhône whites, including from some famous estates like Chave and Beaucastel, I was surprised but delighted to find absolutely delicious this Laudun from a cocktail of Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache blanc, Viognier and Roussanne. Nose was a fragrant medley of white fruit like peach and apricot with ginger and exotic spices plus a touch of minerals. The palate, at most medium bodied, followed through on the aromas with a liveliness contributed by fresh acidity as well as a certain underlying roundness and slightly saline backbone. This domaine was not previously on my radar screen but definitely is now. Not for ageing, I think, but good+ right now.
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Re: September Wine Focus: The South of France!

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:17 pm

Good to see a nice positive note from Tim on a white CdR. Always on the lookout up here but slim pickings. Lafage from Roussillon is another story..good agent bringing in some excellent wines.

2015 Domaine Lafage Cuvee Centenaire, Cotes du Roussillon.

Good natural cork, 13% alc, $24 Cdn, Lot 116067.Blend of Grenache Gris,G Blanc and Roussanne.

Straw color with some greenish tints. Apple, mineral melon nose, "hint of pear" from across the table. I did not serve too chilled as past bottles of white Grenache seem suited for a slight room temp.
Very good acidity, not usual for this blend I feel. Mineral finish on this medium-bodied white, nice long aftertaste, some residual sugar. Not a big wine, interesting but lacks some zip!
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