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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:15 pm

2008 Domaine du Dragon Cotes de Provence Hautes Vignes
Good QPR for only a little over $11. Meat, herbs and dark fruit. Quite easy to drink. Nothing complicated.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Robin Garr » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:01 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:2008 Domaine du Dragon Cotes de Provence Hautes Vignes
Good QPR for only a little over $11. Meat, herbs and dark fruit. Quite easy to drink. Nothing complicated.

I opened this earlier in the month with similar results, but it was muted and "earthy." I didn't really spot obvious cork taint, but upon reflection I decided it had to be at least marginally corked, so I didn't review it. It's $10.99 here ... debating whether to spring for another bottle.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Robin Garr » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:03 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Hautes Vignes

I assume, by the way, that this is mere marketing-speak, meant to make monophone English speakers think it's something like "vieilles vignes." Can any of the Languedoc folks on board this month clarify this? Does "Hautes Vignes" have either a legal or at least a strong traditional significance in the region?
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[WTN] La Sauvageonne 2008 "Les Ruffes" Coteaux du Languedoc

by Robin Garr » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:58 pm

Les Ruffes, according to the back label, refers to the volcanic red soil at the foot of the slope of the La Savageonne vineyard.

La Sauvageonne 2008 "Les Ruffes" Coteaux du Languedoc ($12.99)

Very dark purple, almost black, shading to a clear garnet edge against the light. Interesting, earthy aromas, red berries peeking out from behind black olives plus hints of licorice and fresh, black loam. Initial flavor impact is a bit harsh, sharp acidity and rather hot alcohol (claimed at 14%), but this eases promptly to concentrated red plums and soft but persistent tannins. On the "rustic" side and perhaps a bit disjointed, but there's plenty going on to make it interesting, and food on the table brings it around. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault in undisclosed proportions. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Mason, Ohio. (Feb. 13, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: Should be fine with pork or red meat. It served well with chestnut tagliatelle from Abruzzo topped with an onion-scented roasted red-pepper cream studded with crispy bits of pancetta.

WEB LINK: The Sauvageonne Website is available in French and English. It auto-detected my browser and served me English-language pages.
http://www.lasauvageonne.net

For facts on the 2009 Les Ruffes:
http://www.lasauvageonne.net/ruffes-2009-p-1.html
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Re: [WTN] La Sauvageonne 2008 "Les Ruffes" Coteaux du Languedoc

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:00 pm

Robin Garr wrote:La Sauvageonne 2008 "Les Ruffes" Coteaux du Languedoc ($12.99)


My `08 Note.....>

WTN: `07 Les Ruffes La Sauvageonne, Languedoc.

Only $18 Cdn, 13.5% alc, tasted at a recent "Best Bang for the Buck" tasting downtown. Warm earthy nose, black fruits, smoke, meaty. Nice color, good depth. Quite dry, not a lot of ripeness here. Excellent structure, more of an easy-drinking style. Good with aged cheddar.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Joe Moryl » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:46 am

2007 Chateau La Roque, Cuvee Clos des Benedictines, Coteaux du Languedoc:

Since I have enjoyed some of the reds from this producer, why not try this white, especially since it appears to be from a favored site? Composition is 45% each of Rolle (which is said to be the same as Italy's Vermentino) and Marsanne with the remaining 10% Rousanne, grown on calcaire soil. Warning sign: when I carefully examined the label and noticed this was barrel fermented and aged. But oak can be used with discretion...

The wine is a bright yellow, the color of olive oil (I noticed this similarity while having a glass while cooking). Not much action on the nose, with some dried fruit (apricots?) and a touch of wood. On the palate this reminds me of nothing so much as a barrel fermented chardonnay from the Finger Lakes! Spicy, with some ginger notes, a little butterscotch; pleasant enough but quite short (letting it warm to near room temperature improves things a bit). Doesn't really evoke the Languedoc; I suspect I might enjoy their basic unoaked white more.

A Kermit Lynch import, 13% abv, $17.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by GrahamTigg » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:47 am

Chateau St. Martin de la Garrigue, that's been mentioned a few times, is a magnificent place to visit - more Bordeaux château in trappings than rustic Languedoc. They make the best (and most expensive) Picpoul de Pinets - one of the few properties to correctly let the grapes get really ripe.

I've tried the reds over the years and had a tasting of some at the property last spring after a delightful days walk in the garrigue and vines. I find the reds lack character - to me they've had all the life and interest sucked out of them and the top wines need keeping to let the oak subside by which time you could say they taste as if they come from anywhere. One reason for this is I'm not convinced the area (Montagnac) is suited to make fine reds. At the basic level for a red with character I would go for something like Les Ruffes from La Sauvageonne every time. Totally accept I prefer the more modern style.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Tim York » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:27 am

Robin Garr wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:Hautes Vignes

I assume, by the way, that this is mere marketing-speak, meant to make monophone English speakers think it's something like "vieilles vignes." Can any of the Languedoc folks on board this month clarify this? Does "Hautes Vignes" have either a legal or at least a strong traditional significance in the region?


I guess that, if not marketing speak, this is a lieu-dit.

A rapid google reveals a commune of Hautesvignes in Lot-et-Garonne and a Domaine des Hautes Vignes in the Saumur region, both a long way from Provence.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:48 am

Joe Moryl wrote:2007 Chateau La Roque, Cuvee Clos des Benedictines, Coteaux du Languedoc:

Since I have enjoyed some of the reds from this producer, why not try this white, especially since it appears to be from a favored site? Composition is 45% each of Rolle (which is said to be the same as Italy's Vermentino) and Marsanne with the remaining 10% Rousanne, grown on calcaire soil. Warning sign: when I carefully examined the label and noticed this was barrel fermented and aged. But oak can be used with discretion...

The wine is a bright yellow, the color of olive oil (I noticed this similarity while having a glass while cooking). Not much action on the nose, with some dried fruit (apricots?) and a touch of wood. On the palate this reminds me of nothing so much as a barrel fermented chardonnay from the Finger Lakes! Spicy, with some ginger notes, a little butterscotch; pleasant enough but quite short (letting it warm to near room temperature improves things a bit). Doesn't really evoke the Languedoc; I suspect I might enjoy their basic unoaked white more.

A Kermit Lynch import, 13% abv, $17.


Joe, you have been watching too much Vaynerchuk! He pretty well said the same thing on one of his Wine Library videos. Lots of grimace, swirling and filling up his Jets helmet.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Joe Moryl » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:03 am

Bob,

The Gary V. comment is funny, because I actually bought that wine at Wine Library! Ten seconds of one of those videos is about all I can take - maybe I should start paying attention?
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by JC (NC) » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:19 pm

2009 Houchart Cotes de Provence Rose', Domaine Quiot. $11.99 at The Wine Merchant, Raleigh. Stelvin or screwcap. Labeled as 13% alcohol by volume but seemed liked it might top 13.5%. Quiot family (label mentions 1748--year they first produced wine?) is located in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The 200-acre estate lies at the foot of Mont Saint Victoire near Aix-en-Provence. The wine is a blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault, cabernet sauvignon, and mourvedre.

I'm quite sure I've had this rose' from previous vintages at wine dinners at St. Jacques Restaurant. Salmon-pink color. Label suggests pairing with sushi, salads, pizza and mild cheeses. I had it with pocket pasta stuffed with veal served without a sauce. Flavors of slightly tart red berries along with a citrus influence. Stony minerality firms the texture. Dry wine with a rather lengthy finish. I prefer it slightly chilled as the label recommends. Would buy again.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:13 am

GrahamTigg wrote:Chateau St. Martin de la Garrigue, that's been mentioned a few times, is a magnificent place to visit - more Bordeaux château in trappings than rustic Languedoc. They make the best (and most expensive) Picpoul de Pinets - one of the few properties to correctly let the grapes get really ripe.

I've tried the reds over the years and had a tasting of some at the property last spring after a delightful days walk in the garrigue and vines. I find the reds lack character - to me they've had all the life and interest sucked out of them and the top wines need keeping to let the oak subside by which time you could say they taste as if they come from anywhere. One reason for this is I'm not convinced the area (Montagnac) is suited to make fine reds. At the basic level for a red with character I would go for something like Les Ruffes from La Sauvageonne every time. Totally accept I prefer the more modern style.


Well, this should be of interest........>

WTN: `04 Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue Bronzinelle, Cotes du Languedoc.

Cellared two years, $23 Cdn, 13.5% alc, opened and decanted one hour. Some sediment noted, fine cork, blend of usual suspects. I did not have any previous knowledge of this chateau when buying, sort of spur of the moment I guess.

Color. Just starting to show some bricking on the rim. Medium deep red, light purple rim, fair amount of depth in the centre.
Nose. Earthy, plum, herbal. "I can see reference to garrigue" from across the table. Did not hold up well overnight, but not raisiny.
Palate. Initial thought was very soft tannins, dry-ish, herbal, earthy. Black plum, cherry, not too meaty at this late (?) stage. Served blind, I would have been pressed to say S France though. It has aged ok but not really my style. Did you all see Robin`s note?

***** nothing to write about on day 2.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Tim York » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:37 pm

Cabardès 2007 - Château de Pennautier, Vignobles Lorgeril - Alc. 13.5% - (€6,50 at the importer but I paid >€9 at a luxury supermarket :( ), made from CabSauv, Merlot, Syrah and Grenache with a preponderance of the first two and tank aged.

Cabardès is located close to the mediaeval (but heavily restored) city of Carcasonne, lies at the watershed of the Atlantic and Mediterranean river systems and has climatic influences from both. Bordeaux grape varieties are planted as well as Mediterranean and this shows strongly in the wines which are unlike others in Languedoc.

The nose immediately showed the influence of Cabernet-Sauvignon with its black currant notes and fresh edge. The medium bodied and smoothly fruity palate also took up these themes and added some typically Cabernet backbone together with a warm and slightly sweet (Grenache?) undertow and lively/smooth acidity. The overall effect was already quite mellow early in the wine's 4th year and I preferred the greater vivacity and added leather touches of the 2008 which I tasted in the Autumn. Nevertheless QPR! at the importer's price; 15/20++.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Sue Courtney » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:38 pm

This is a very interesting and informative discussion. Nice to see Rosemary George MW here, I met her when she was in NZ about 18 months ago.
I recently had a delicious lightly sparkling red (rosé) from the Mid Pyrennes (AOC Fronton). Is that the right area for this month's wine focus?
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Tim York » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:48 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:This is a very interesting and informative discussion. Nice to see Rosemary George MW here, I met her when she was in NZ about 18 months ago.
I recently had a delicious lightly sparkling red (rosé) from the Mid Pyrennes (AOC Fronton). Is that the right area for this month's wine focus?
Sue


Sue, Fronton is to the west of the area we are looking at, falls into the diversified wine region "South West" and is covered by Paul Strang's excellent book on that subject. Cabardès, the subject of my TN above, is about as far west as Languedoc gets wine-wise and already the wines show a lot of Atlantic character. Let us hear about your Fronton all the same.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:01 pm

Go for it Sue!
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Jon Hesford » Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:33 am

I'm part of a group called "The Outsiders". We're all foreigners, even if that includes Bordeaux and Burgundy! We do tastings and publicity together but our vineyards cover the whole of the LR so there is little similarity between the wines. Here are some of my notes on some of the others' wines:

Chateau Combebelle, Faugeres, Les Fleurs Sauvages 2008
Nice tobacco reduction. Quite high on acid. Dead-leaf, rustic, crunchy fruit. Interesting 16/20

La Grange de Quatre Sous, St Chinian, 2007
Chocolate cake and blackcurrant on nose. Nice rich palate with a touch of cheese (in a good way). Lots of concentration and interest. 17/20

Domain de Calet Travers de Rey, Costieres de Nimes, Syrah 2005
Lovely evolved cigar-box nose. Great concentration and balance. Lovely wine. 18/20

Domaine Cebene, Felgaria 2009, Faugeres
Complex nose of dead-leaves and plums. Soft entry, strawberries and vanilla ice-cream but with a fair bit of complexity, interest and good density. 17/20

Mas Gabriel, Les Trois Terrases, 2009 Pezenas
Complex nose of brambles, autumn leaves and earth. Nice sofish entry. Rich concentrated fruit. Tasty, earthy and jammy on the finish in a positive way. 17.5/20



I must say I agree with Graham about St Martin de la Garrigue (and Lascaux and Ch de Pennautier). They are very big producers and you can find their wines all over the world. They give you an idea of what the LR can offer in the way that Mondavi Woodbridge, Mouton Cadet Bordeaux and Guigal's basic Cotes du Rhone do for their regions.

Haut Vignes is almost certainly just a throw-away marketing phrase. Mas Jaume doesn't exist. My guess is that it is wine from the Tautavel Coop. You have to be aware of this with French wine. There is no rule that says you can't call a bulk, blended wine from many sources, "Domaine This" or "Mas That". In fact, if the wine is AOC, you can call it "Chateau Blah" or "Clos Whatever". In France we can spot these wines because the tax capsule will tell you whether it is a grower's wine or a negociant wine but in export markets, you won't see that capsule. Some people think that "Mis en bouteille a la Proprieté" means Estate grown and produced but it doesn't. It just means the wine was bottled at the premises of the owner of the brandname. If you see the words or logo of "Vigneron Independant", that is an estate wine.

I've got loads more notes on LR wines but I don't know which ones are worth posting here. If any of you have seen a wine and want my biased opinion on whether it is worth buying, I'll try to help :)
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by David M. Bueker » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:11 am

Jon Hesford wrote:I must say I agree with Graham about St Martin de la Garrigue (and Lascaux and Ch de Pennautier). They are very big producers and you can find their wines all over the world. They give you an idea of what the LR can offer in the way that Mondavi Woodbridge, Mouton Cadet Bordeaux and Guigal's basic Cotes du Rhone do for their regions.


If I were the Guigals I would be rather put out by being lumped together with Mouton Cadet and especially the significantly more industrial, faceless Mondavi Woodbridge. As a consumer, while I have drifted away from the Guigal to more artisanal products, I would see it in a very different category as well.

Thanks for the Hautes Vignes information.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Tim York » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:04 am

David M. Bueker wrote:
Jon Hesford wrote:I must say I agree with Graham about St Martin de la Garrigue (and Lascaux and Ch de Pennautier). They are very big producers and you can find their wines all over the world. They give you an idea of what the LR can offer in the way that Mondavi Woodbridge, Mouton Cadet Bordeaux and Guigal's basic Cotes du Rhone do for their regions.


If I were the Guigals I would be rather put out by being lumped together with Mouton Cadet and especially the significantly more industrial, faceless Mondavi Woodbridge. As a consumer, while I have drifted away from the Guigal to more artisanal products, I would see it in a very different category as well.

Thanks for the Hautes Vignes information.


I would equate Pennautier and indeed Lorgeril as a whole with Guigal négociant rather with Mouton Cadet. I have no experience of the Woodbridge range. Here is my TN from an October tasting.

Vignobles Lorgeril, Cabardès

I like the wines of this estate which were presented by Miren de Lorgeril. Cabardès is situated close to Carcassonne at the watershed between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, has a climate with features from both together with both Bordelais and Mediterranean grape varieties. This is reflected in the wines which have the brightness of fruit and structure of the former and generosity of the latter. The estate is extending into Languedoc with recent acquisitions in Minervois and Faugères.
Chardonnay de Pennautier 2009 (€6,50) was a good palate cleanser at the beginning of the tasting. Fresh lime aromas with a touch of rusticity on the palate; 14.5/20.
Château de Pennautier Cabardès 2008 (€6,50), made from CabSauv, Merlot, Syrah and Grenache with a preponderance of the first two and tank aged, is a great QPR stand-by. This 2008 showed bright black currant and ivy aromas and quite full body, roundness and fragrance; 15.5/20 QPR!!
Château de Pennautier Cabardès Terroirs d’Altitude 2006 (€10,40) with a similar varietal composition but barrel aged (15% new) showed a softer and more velvety texture and firmer finish; 15.5/20 QPR.
L’Esprit de Pennautier Cabardès 2003 (€24), aged with a higher new wood component, was richer, even more velvety with sweeter fruit, more structure and length; 16/20++.
Minervois La Borie Blanche 2008 (€7,25) was generous with attractive spicy dark fruit and a touch of rusticity; 15/20+++ QPR.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Tim York » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:06 pm

Many thanks to John Bojanowski for pointing me towards this large tasting at a hotel near Brussels airport attended by some 150 Languedoc vignerons.

Unfortunately the organisation left something to be desired. The least serious deficiencies were the absence of a tasting programme with room for notes and parsimony of spittoons in some parts of the large hall. However, much more serious was the warm temperature at which the red wines were served no doubt due to the bottles’ having been stored by the hotel in a warm place for many hours. This had the effect of smoothing out terroir and varietal differences, in emphasising the alcohol and in accelerating palate fatigue (for me). The vignerons were just as distressed by this warmth as I was and most placed their red bottles in ice buckets which undoubtedly slowed down further warming as the crowd intensified. I hope for the vignerons’ sake that the organisers remedied this mistake for the second day when professionals from the hotel, restaurant and wine trades were attending.

Nevertheless by making a restricted sample, I was able to enjoy most of what I tried. Here are some highlights from the estates which I sampled. I would like to have tried more but in the circumstances…..


Clos du Gravillas, Saint-Jean de Minervois
This is the estate of Nicole and John Bojanowski. The wines are exuberant and full of flavour. As his post above shows, John is keen defender of local varieties, especially Carignan. The vines are worked organically with Ecocert certification and there is minimum intervention in the wine-making. I did not note the appellations used.

L’Inattendu 2009 (white), from Grenache white and grey and Macabeu, was spicy, fruity and refreshing.
Sous les Cailloux, des Grillons 2009 (red), from 5 Med varieties plus CabSauv, was seductively fruity and supple.
Le Rendez-vous du Soleil 2007, from Syrah, CabSauv and Carignan, was deeper, more complex and structured with smoky flesh flavours mingled with the fruit and interesting aromatics.
Lo Vièhl Carignan 2007, made from Carignan vines planted in 1911. This wine showed very individual flavours with depth, complexity, fine savoury red fruit, notes of leather and touches of tar. The brett allergic might complain about the leather but it was just right for me.


Domaine Anne Gros & J-P Tollot, Minervois
Anne Gros is famous for her Vosne-Romanée domaine and this Minervois estate represents a new venture for her and her husband. Their first vintage was 2008. The wines give an impression of considerable purity; all shown here were AOC Minervois, I think. Fontanilles and La Ciaule were shown in both 2008 and 2009 vintages; the former vintage was fresher with more tension and brighter aromatics; the latter was richer and deeper. Most interesting for me was-
Minervois Les Carrétals 2009 made from 100 year Carignan vines; it showed deep round tangy fruit with nothing to worry the brett allergic, but I preferred the Gravillas Lo Vièlh for its extra complexity.


Château de Pech-Redon, La Clape
This estate was the victim of an unusual crime which has not been solved; the vats containing almost all of its 2009 vintage were found emptied onto the ground. Neighbouring vignerons rallied round by giving the owner wine with which to make 2009 cuvée baptised Solidarité.
I liked the wines (all AOC Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape, I think); L’Epervier and Lithos, both from Grenache and Syrah were available in the 2007 vintage and showed generous fruit, some garrigue, attractive suppleness and with more structure on the former. Centaurie 2006 added Mourvèdre to the blend, showed liquorice touches and attractive soft suppleness despite the usually more structured Mourvèdre.


Mas Cal Demoura, Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac
I knew some of this estate’s wines from the previous owners but this was the first time I sampled them from the new owners Isabelle & Vincent Goumard, who talked with engaging enthusiasm about the wines. The warmth was beginning to affect them even more but nevertheless I was impressed by –
L’Infidèle 2008, from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault which showed complex fruit, garrigue notes and structure, and
Les Combariolles 2008 from Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre which showed more developed aromatics and more elegance than the previous.


Domaine Les Aurelles, Coteaux du Languedoc
This estate was new to me. It uses no wood and sells its wines after longer ageing (in tank) than most in the area. Again the quality managed to overcome the warmth and more refinement was apparent here than with many in the area. Solen, from Carignan 60% and Grenache 40%, was shown in two vintages; 2007 was generous, rich and spicy and 2005 was more aromatic and integrated. Aurel 2005, from Mourvèdre 65%, Syrah 20% and Grenache 15% showed more structure and backbone accompanied by liquorice and tar notes.
Saving the best for the last, Aurel 2007 (W) from Roussanne 100% had a quite remarkably lovely spicy and sappy nose and a generous, round, peachy and spicy palate which was not yet at the same level of inspiration as the nose; very fine and perhaps worth its high price c.€45.


Mas Champart, Saint-Chinian
This is a familiar estate. Somehow the reds here seemed fresher than elsewhere. Maybe Isabelle Champart had taken precautions to ensure that the bottles did not become too warm but maybe also their wines are better differentiated.
Saint-Chinian blanc 2009, from Grenache gris et blanc, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Marsanne, was beautifully fresh, spicy and aromatic with attractive which fruit; less serious but also much less expensive (c.€12) than Aurel white.
The reds Côte d’Arbo 2009, Causse du Bosquet 2008 and Clos de la Simonette 2008 showed a nice progression; meaty and tangy and meaty red fruit was shown by all with the first being the most supple and with a rise in tension, complexity and tannic structure through to the last (30% Grenache, 70% Mourvèdre).


Château Puech Haut, Pic-Saint-Loup
By the time I got to this unfamiliar estate, palate fatigue was setting in. Maybe for this reason I didn’t find the wines as interesting as at any of the previous estates so I won’t go into any detail here.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Andrew Bair » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:55 pm

There are many southern French wines that I have enjoyed in the past, but my only one so far this month wasn't a favorite.

2007 Domaine René Rostaing Coteaux du Languedoc "Vassal de Puech Noble"
80% Syrah/20% Mourvèdre. Essentially the second wine of Rostaing’s Puech Noble estate, formerly known as Puech Chaud.
Earthy/chocolaty/blueberry nose. Moderate in weight, soft, ripe, moderately oaky, with dark fruit and currant flavors. Rather low in tannins and acidity; tastes like it could have come from anywhere. Although I have no experience with any of Rostaing’s wines from the Northern Rhône, I hope that they are more interesting than this wine was.

Hope to try something more exciting by the end of the month.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:20 pm

Great pity tasting conditions were so bizarre Tim.
Found this for you, an old writeup on Jamies site....>

Domaine des Aurelles is the brainchild of two ex-Bordeaux vignerons, Karl Maguin (who worked at Latour) and Basile St Germain (Haut Brion). It's a relatively recent operation, with the first vintage in 1995.

The winery is located in Caux, while the vineyards are close by in Nizas. Nearest large town is Beziers, and a few kilometres up the road from the well known estate Prieure de St Jean de Bebian, and not too far east of Faugères. There are five parcelles of vines, some 15 ha in all, with average yield 25 hl/ha (this is pretty low, even for the South of France). The varieties grown are fairly typical for the region, with Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Carignan making up the red contingent, and Rousanne, Clairette, Terret Blanc and Ugni Blanc the whites (I just tasted the Aurel Blanc here, but a Solen Blanc is planned).

They use new oak for the whites but not the reds: a couple of Bordeaux barriques (from Domaine de Chevalier) were used for the first vintage, but the results weren't great, so now Karl and Basile just use large oak vats to age their red wines. This is an encouraging sign: unfortunately, the first thing many ambitious vignerons do with their top wines is to smother their character with new oak. It's also good to see Carignan being used, a non-trendy grape that can do really well when low yields and old vines are involved. My only slight gripe is the prices. With the Aurel selling for almost £20, it's really battling it out with the big boys.
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Tim York

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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by Tim York » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:38 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Jamie Goode on Les Aurelles
They use new oak for the whites but not the reds: a couple of Bordeaux barriques (from Domaine de Chevalier) were used for the first vintage, but the results weren't great, so now Karl and Basile just use large oak vats to age their red wines. This is an encouraging sign: unfortunately, the first thing many ambitious vignerons do with their top wines is to smother their character with new oak. It's also good to see Carignan being used, a non-trendy grape that can do really well when low yields and old vines are involved. My only slight gripe is the prices. With the Aurel selling for almost £20, it's really battling it out with the big boys.


I wonder if things have changed because Basile Saint-Germain told me distinctly that the wines see no wood at all and this is repeated on the website for the reds http://www.les-aurelles.com/vinification.html though they admit using larger wood barrels for the white. (Apologies for French only. One of the vignerons told me that hackers had destroyed the English version of their website :shock: )

I agree about the prices. I like the wines but I think that there is better QPR at other estates, although the white is exceptionally fine.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

by ChaimShraga » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:08 am

These are notes from an evening with Uri Caftori, a local importer of L-R wines.

Chateau d'Or et de Gueules, Costieres de Nimes, Les Cimels Blanc, 2008

70% Grenache Blanc, 20% Vermentino, 10% Rousanne. A quaffer that is better on the round and saline palate than on the nose, showing minerals and hints of grass and flowers. I think when people venture in white wines of the North Rhone, this kind of wine is what they expect to find, before they start falling into the various boobytraps of the genre, which this wine manages to avoid. You know, bitter almonds in youth, odd and hard to gauge dumb periods - none of that here. Drink young with salads. 75 NIS.

Domaine St. Antonin, Faugeres, Les Jardins, 2008

Equal parts Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. A step up from quaffer is this bistro wine: nothing fancy or complex, light, tart and minerally, trading on personality. I kept returning to it and the fruit became purer, the finish more saline. This is the kind of charming wine that would get passed by in 'normal' tastings. Drink now. 75 NIS.

Clos Marie, Languedoc, Pic-St.-Loup, l'Olivette, 2008

40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre. Just like the 2007, this is easy to like/appreciate with funky, minerally black fruit that comes across as mid-way between Rhone and Ribera Del Duero. Priced like an expensive Saint Joseph, of equal quality if not exactly the same style. This wine is always worth a couple of bottles for me whenever it goes on sale, as it invariably seems to at WineDepot. 145 NIS.

Domaine de l'Horizon, Cote de Rousillon Village, Rouge, 2007

Equal parts Grenache and Carignan. If you're a novice, then you'll miss out on the intellectual pleasures of trying to place this wine. Complex leather/saline/mineral ambience that has CdP feel without CdP weight. Then it's spicy in a Barolo way. Finally, the black fruit could be Saint Estephe, while the smoky minerals could be Pessac. Fine tannins and a fine wine. 245 NIS.

Coume del Mas, Collioure, Quadratur, 2006

50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Carignan. Spicy black fruit that is surprisingly refreshing despite the high ABV. Hedonistic nose full of meat and toasted bread. Brett again. Like a gentle, unassuming version of Chateauneuf. Personally, I'd go for the l'Horizon but this is quite good, albeit a little expensive. 245 NIS.
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