The now not so new team at Oddbins is making a great effort to revamp what had become a rather boring range of wines under the Castel ownership. At their tasting last week, it was clear that the Midi had been given some attention, to good effect.

2009 Equilibre de l’Arjolle - £10.99

Domaine l'Arjolle is one of the leading estates of the Côtes de Thongue, with the Teisserenc family amongst the pioneers of the area. This is a blend of 60% Sauvignon and 40% Sauvignon, aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks for six months.

It was more Sauvignon on the nose, with some fresh pithy fruit, while on the palate the Viognier added weight and texture and some peachy hints, with a rounded finish, with balancing acidity from the Sauvignon. An unusual and successful blend.

2008 Collioure Blanc Domaine Madeloc, £15.49
This is the Roussillon estate of Pierre Gaillard, who produces Côte Rôtie, as well as Faugères at Domaine Cottebrune – see my earlier posting. The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache Gris, 20% Vermentino and 20% Roussanne. I liked this a lot. It is light golden in colour, with an intriguing nose, a touch resinous, a little honey, with lots of nuances, and on the palate it is full and ripe, with sufficient acidity, again some honeyed notes, as well as white blossom. A full-bodied floral finish.

2008 Corbières Château Ollieux Romanis - £10.99
A blend of 40% Carignan, 30% Grenache Noir and 30% Syrah. Medium young colour; some firm spicy notes on the nose, while the palate is rounded and intense with ripe berry fruit and some leathery hints. Lots of southern spice with a leathery finish.

2007 Corbières, Boutenac, Château Ollieux Romanis - £19.99
40% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah. Boutenac is the cru of the Corbières, from vineyards around the village. Again some lovely ripe spicy fruit on the nose, but the palate was more elegant and refined’ nicely rounded with a peppery, tannic finish. Drinking well now, but also with ageing potential.

2006 Minervois, Domaine St. Jacques d’Albas - £8.79
A blend of 40% each of Carignan and Greanche, with 20% Syrah. This property has been renovated by a dynamic Anglo-French couple and Graham Nutter employs an Australian winemaker, Richard Osborne, who has a surprisingly European approach to wine-making. Good colour. Rounded red fruit nose. Quite a rounded palate, with more red fruit, some peppery notes and some fresh tannins on the finish.

2007 Collioure Rouge, Domaine Madeloc, Cuvée Serral - £15.49
80% Grenache 20% Mourvèdre. Aged in used barrels for 15 months. Young colour; medium depth. Quite a firm nose, with a touch oak, and more oak on the palate. Some ripe red berry fruit; vanilla notes and a tannic backbone. Still very young, with good ageing potential.

I’m off to discover the delights of Calabria, the toe of Italy, this week, so there will be no more from me, until at least the middle of next week, and then I shall probably be enthusing about southern Italy rather than the south of France.


michelecolline said…
Would you perhaps know of the requirement regarding carignan in the blend in Corbieres? I found an Hachette 2008 guide that states a 60% maximum. There is some debate here in the States among some blogger friends. Thank you for your help!
I was told when I wrote The Wines of the South of France that it was to be reduced to a maximum of 50% by 2003. I am not aware that the figure has changed, but it could well have done, so I'll check with officialdom and come back to you.
michelecolline said…
Thank you for your reply. The wine in question here is(according to the importer)85% carignan. Thank the French for keeping us guessing and on our toes. It seems corbieres can be almost all carignan, or syrah, or grenache. I thought the AOC was more specific. We've been bouncing this back and forth on another blog. I am looking forward to your 'officialdom' response. Also, looking forward to your Puglia notes. Thank you again!
michelecolline said…
I meant Calabria of course. It is more interesting to me.
The word from the Comite des Vins du Languedoc on Carignan in Corbieres is maximum 50%

And for the Corbieres cru of Boutenac, a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 50% and the vines must be at least 9 years old.

Hope this clarifies things. Of course it is not impossible that the wine in question is in fact 85%Carignan. French wine growers, especially in the Midi, can have a pretty robust attitude towards the precisions of the appellation regulations. And it can also be a question of what you have in your vineyard, rather than what actually goes into a wine.
michelecolline said…
Thank you for looking into this for us. I had always assumed the AOC was determined by what was grown in the vineyards according to, over the years, what made the best wine in the region. If you have a vineyard with 100% carignan then you can make a corbieres even though the appellation says a maximum of 50%. This makes the AOC redundant. It should just requirement specific grapes at this point and not percentages, or, they should have to label them Vin de Pays like some other regions.
In some appellations, the requirements are for the encépagement, not the wine.

I remember one story (true or not) where a vigneron had a parcel called the INAO vineyard, as it existed simply to meet the requirement without the grapes being used (Domaine Gramenon in Southern Rhône ?)

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