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Tim York

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WTN: "Discoveries" in SW France and Provence

by Tim York » Fri Nov 18, 2011 7:21 am

It is rewarding to discover new wines and at the RVF’s Brussels Salon there were two that were new for me. The first, an estate in Marmandais, of which I had never heard, was pointed out to me as a “coup de coeur”” by one of the best wine discovery cavistes in Belgium, whom I happened to find myself beside at the stand of the second, an estate from Provence, whose name was familiar though I had never previously tried their wines.


Domaine de Beyssac, Côtes du Marmandais, Frédéric Broutet
This is a new estate which created as recently as 2009. Véronique and Frédéric are a charming middle aged couple visibly and audibly full of enthusiasm and anxious to please. The grapes are organically cultivated and their methods are detailed (in French) on their informative website http://www.domainedebeyssac.fr/blog/info/. All wines are AOC Côtes du Marmandais, an obscure appellation located near the river Garonne about one-third of the way from Bordeaux to Toulouse, where hitherto Elian da Ros was the lone quality standard bearer.

L’Escapade rosé 2010 (€7), made 50/50 from Merlot and Côt 18 year old vines planted on a South facing chalky clay hillside. Its aromas were round, meaty and ripe and some nice minerality kicked in on the palate; 15/20+.
L’Initiale 2009 (€12), made from Merlot 40%, Cab franc 35% and Arbouriou 3 year old vines likewise on South facing chalky clay and raised 11 months in stainless steel tanks. The nose was deliciously fresh, complex and exuberant and the palate was full/medium bodied, full of rich flavour and well structured but not in the least jammy with lively acidity, minerals and some attractive tar and gum undertones which I don’t recall on da Ros’ wines which are closer to Bordeaux right bank in profile; yum 16.5/20.
L’Essentiel 2009 (€14) was exactly the same wine as L’Initiale but was raised for 8 months in stainless steel tanks and 12 month in barriques of which one-third were new. The difference was marked with even richer fruit and a more caressing texture and firmer structure but the nose was still quite marked by wood and there were noticeable vanilla notes on the palate which I would prefer better integrated into the wine. In their present states I preferred L’Initiale. I sensed that the Broutets were a little disappointed by this, saying that recent bottling could account for the prominence of the wood; this could indeed be true as I have noticed it on other wines, which subsequently come quite quickly into balance. Right now 15.5/20 but could surpass L’Initiale with time because I think that the substance is there.

I guess that it will be many years, if ever, before Marmandais wines find their way across the Atlantic but I do strongly urge people who are holidaying in the region to pay a visit to this estate.


Domaine Gavoty, Le Grand Campdumy, Côtes de Provence
This estate has been in the Gavoty family for 8 generations since 1806. I remember reading the articles of Bernard Gavoty, who was music critic in Le Figaro under the pseudonym Clarendon until 1980. The present owner is his niece Roselyne, who is both charming and competent. http://www.gavoty.com/en/index.html . All the wines here are Côtes de Provence.

Cuvée Clarendon blanc 2010 (€14,50), made from 100% Rolle, was an outstanding Mediterranean white with deliciously fresh aromas impregnated with slightly candied citrus fruit and mineral touches and the medium weight palate combined Mediterranean generosity with freshness, some underlying “gras” and backbone; 16.5/20.
Cuvée Clarendon rosé 2010 (€13), made from Grenache 60%, Cinsault 25% and Syrah 15%, showed distinctive freshness of fruit and mineral in contrast to a lot of Provençal pink; 15.5/20+.
Cuvée Clarendon rouge 2007 (€13), made from Syrah 90% and CabSauv 10% and tank aged, was a very attractive Syrah showing aromas of ripe red and dark fruit with meat, garrigue and wet leather hints and a full generous and ripe palate which managed to remain harmonious and avoid excess in spite of the warm climate; 16/20.


I also tasted several Bordeaux but, maybe because I was beginning to suffer from backache due to too much standing still, few interested me except Château Petit-Village Pomerol 2004 (€50) and 2006, the former of which was showing deliciously complex aromas and fruit with notes of raspberry and violet, medium body and good structure, a very charming 16.5/20+++, and the latter was similar if a bit bigger and more simplistic at present. I read that Petit-Village was supposedly under-performing in the mid-00s and there are generally lukewarm TNs on Cellar Tracker, so I must be out of step.
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Zachary Ross

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Re: WTN: "Discoveries" in SW France and Provence

by Zachary Ross » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:38 am

Thanks for these great notes.

There is a small number of Marmandais wines that do make it to the U.S., including Elian da Ros and La Vieille Eglise.

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