The autumn tasting season is in full swing.

The Languedoc was conspicuous at Sainsbury’s by its absence.

Marks and Spencer were not showing anything new – a perfectly drinkable but unexciting Grenache Blanc; a Sauvignon from an old favourite, Domaine Mandeville and a couple of reds, a Minervois and a Corbières from Gerard Bertrand, which didn’t sing for me. And I wondered whether Jean-Claude Mas, creator of The Arrogant Frog label, would consider le Froglet Shiraz an encroachment on his toes – the wine is quite sweet and peppery, but too oaky for me.

I seem to have fallen off Tesco’s guest list, so didn’t get to admire the view from the top of Centre point, so that leaves Majestic and Waitrose.

Let’s cover Majestic first. Best was a white Corbières, Château Mont Milan 2009 - £5.99 – or £4.99 if you buy two. This comes from one of the better coops of the Corbières, the Cave de Rocbère. It’s a blend of Rolle and Grenache blanc. Rounded white blossom fruit; nicely textured palate and a soft finish. The red 2007 Château Mont Milan was lightly peppery, with a little tannin, but lacking guts for a Corbières

2009 Picpoul de Pinet, Rocs Blanc, from the coop in Pomerols lacked the salty tang that good Picpoul should have. It was a bit too broad and heavy. And of the two Paul Mas white wines, I much preferred the Sauvignon to the Vermentino. 2009 Paul Mas Pépinière Vineyard PGI Pays d’Oc - £8.99 or £6.49 if you buy two - was rounded with a fresh pithy nose, and some fresh acidity and punchy Sauvignon fruit on the palate. Very successful, especially for a Sauvignon from the Midi.

2009 Pinot Noir from Domaine de l’Aigle in Limoux, PGI Pays d’Oc – £7.99 had a hard time as it came after four juicy New Zealand Pinot Noir. It has some fresh raspberry fruit on the nose, with quite a dry palate, but a harmonious balance of fruit and tannin.

2008 Chateau la Dournie, St Chinian - £7.99 – or £6.99 if you buy two – was ripe and spicy with the easy garrigues fruit of the Midi ; medium weight with a ripe finish. Easy drinking.

And then on to Waitrose. They were showing a slightly larger selection, again some I liked and some with less appeal. Spot on was Château Calage, la Méjanelle 2008 from a small area outside Montpellier, which is now part of the broader Grès de Montpellier, and fighting a rearguard action against the encroaching city. Chateau Flaugergues is a near neighbour. I’ve not tasted Château Calage before, but this has some lovely soft spice on nose and palate, with an appealing touch of warm, and some well integrated oak. Nicely harmonious and warming. - £7.99

2008 Château Cazeneuve, les Calcaires, Pic St. Loup - £13.99 from one of the more established estates of this area. A blend of 45% Syrah, 25% Grenache 20 % Cinsaut and 10% Carignan, and partly aged in wood. The palate was firm and structure,d with some of the freshness and tannins of the Pic St. Loup. It needs more bottle age.

2009 Balthazar Syrah, PGI Pays d’Oc - £9.99
A pure Syrah, from the coop of the village of Neffiès. This has long been one of the good coops of the Languedoc, but sadly it has suffered severe financial problems after a devastating hail storm just before the harvest two years ago. The solution was to join forces with the nearby coop of Alignan du Vent. Neffiès makes good reds, and Alignan sound whites. This Syrah is deep in colour, with a rich dense spicy nose, and mouth filling ripe fruit and southern spice. A winter warmer

2009 Fontaine du Roy Costières de Nîmes - £6.49. The 2008 vintage of this was at The Absolutely Cracking French Wine tasting earlier in the week. Very much in the same style, with wonderful soft succulent spicy warm fruit. Easy drinking.

Red Also-rans were:

2008 Reserve de Courtal, Fitou from the coop of Mont Tauch. I usually like their wines a lot, but this somehow was too soft and supple for a Fitou.

2008 La Clape, L’Hospitalet had too much oak for my taste buds, and Domaine Combes, St. Chinian from the coop of Cebazan was soft and jammy.

And 2009 Chat-en Oeuf Pays d’Oc has a witty label – cat sitting on egg – and the flavours from the bottle are soft and spicy; easy fruit and medium weight palate – for £4.99. It’s a blend of Syrah and Grenache.

There’s a white version too, a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 30% Marsanne with Roussanne and a touch of Vermentino completing the blend. This is soft and lightly buttery, with some mouth-filling white blossom fruit. Good value at £4.99

And more whites included: 2009 Domaine Félines-Jourdan, Picpoul de Pinet. - £7.49
This is one of my favourite Picpoul and the 2009 does not disappoint. Fresh sappy salty fruit with good acidity. Fresh and appealing. For more info. see a posting earlier this year.

Laurent Miquel’s Viognier Vendanges Nocturnes 2009 was showing well with some textured peachy fruit – 7.99. Again see an earlier posting.

And Domaine Sainte Rose 2008 Roussanne Barrel Selection was also performing well, for the second time this week, with some nutty fruit on the nose, white flowers and a textured palate with layers of oak and fruit. This is basically the same wine as the Selection, la Nuit Blanche that was at the Absolutely Cracking French tasting earlier in the week.


Graham said…
The Picpoul from Félines-Jourdan is listed under your "also-rans" but seems eminently preferable to the Rocs Blanc from your notes?
HamishWM said…
That does not seem like an enormous representation on the UK High Street. Do you think the L-R offering has shrunk recently? Realistaically in a financial crisis the value and great qpr wines should be more evident.....but I am not sure whether it is happening.
Graham - You've just shown why writers need a good editor! The also rans were red - and then onto whites and Felines Jourdan is definitely preferable to Rocs Blanc.

Hamish - I think it is a question of what the high street is choosing to show at tastings - I'm not sure that the offering has actually shrunk, but that whoever decides what to show at tastings is more interested in other areas -and L_R certainly continues to offer some great value - eg the two Corbieres from Majestic.

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