The ASDW tasting - in other words The Association of Small Direct Wine Merchants and an eclectic band of small specialists in Italy, Australia, Champagne, Spain and Georgia, not to mention Bordeaux, Burgundy and of course the Languedoc. You can read more about them on

I had fun, tasting some old favourites and discovering some new producers. Prices are UK retail prices. caught my eye as Stefanie Steil was showing only wines from the Languedoc and Roussillon.

For a start she had my favourite Cabardès, from Domaine de Cazaban, 2007. - £15.99. This is a relatively new estate, created by Clément Mengus, who has moved down from Alsace, where his family also have vineyards. Cabardès is one of the appellations close to Carcassonne where the grape varieties of Bordeaux and the south west meet those of the Mediterranean. The 2007 vintage is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Syrah. Deep colour. Lovely ripe spice on the nose, and on the palate, the plumy fruit of Merlot balanced with Mediterranean spice. A balanced tannic backbone and a long finish.

2009 Domaine Notre Dame le Plô. Le Grenache du Plô, Pays d’Oc - £9.25
Medium colour. Ripe liqueur cherry fruit on both nose and palate. Ripe and rounded and a benchmark Grenache.

2006 Château Planères, Côtes du Roussillon. La Romanie Blanc - £12.20
This is new to me, Their white is a blend of Malvoisie and Rolle Quite a deep colour. Rounded white blossom. A touch of oak on the palate and some almond notes and a touch of maturity. Ripe and rounded; mouth filling and satisfying.

2001 Château Planères, Côtes du Roussillon, La Roumanie Rouge. - £13.30
A blend of Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache. Good colour. Ripe and rounded with a leathery nose, warm ripe spice on the palate, mouth filling and warming. This is a winter wine, and needs a rich gamey dish or a daube. It also tastes quite youthful for a wine that is 10 years old. A lovely discovery. .

2005 Les Verrières de Montagnac, Clos Soutyeres, Coteaux du Languedoc. - £12.35
70% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 10% Carignan. Aged in oak. This is new to me too. Deep colour; quite a firm structured nose. Solidly tannic palate, balanced with some ripe fruit. A gutsy mouth filling wine and still very youthful. Another for a winter’s evening.

Stefanie’s final offering was Domaine Pech Menel, St. Chinian 2007 - £10.25 Another estate that I had not encountered before. A blend of 35% Mourvèdre, 30% Cinsaut, 20% Grenache Noir and 15% Carignan. . I found this a bit inky, and the palate lacked definition. specialise not only in the Languedoc and Roussillon, but also Corsica.

I really enjoyed their offering of 2010 Picpoul de Pinet, le Jade from Les Vignerons de Pomerols - £5.50. It was everything that good Picpoul should be, a rounded nose with herbal fruit, and a nice balance of acidity. Very drinkable.

2010 Muscadellu, Muscat Pétillant from les Vignerons Corsicans. - £10.00
Soft and frothy, lightly sweet and grapey, with some honey on the finish. This is France’s answer to lightly sparkling Asti Spumante. is another Languedoc specialist. Ian Webb worked spent a year or so working at L’Ermitage du Pic St. Loup, an experience which has given him an enormous enthusiasm for the region.

2007 Le Chemin des Rêves, Utopie 3, Pays de l’Herault - £15.79
This was a lovely discovery, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah and Grenache and the final 10% includes a bit of Carignan and some old varieties like Terret Noir, Aramon and Alicante. Good colour. Quite a closed nose, with some intriguing nuances. The palate has fruit and spice and a balance of tannin – it’s one of those wines that makes you think that here is a lot going on – what the Italians would call a vino da meditazione. I could have lingered longer over it , but other wines called. It sounds a very interesting estate, situated at Grabels just outside Montpellier, so straddling the Pic St. Loup and the Grès de Montpellier.

2007 Plan de l’Om, Roucan, Terrasses du Larzac - £19.79.
2007 was the last vintage made by the previous owner, Joel Foucou. He has since sold the estate to Remy Duchemin, who was instrumental in creating the reputation of Domaine de Mortiès in the Pic St. Loup. The vineyards are near St. Jean de la Blaquière. Deep colour; good fruit on the nose, with spice and leather. A very intriguing palate, with more leather and spice and a touch viandé. Great depth and character. Again another wine to linger over.

Ian’s offerings also included a cheerful Viognier from Domaine la Fadèze, with some varietal character and 2009 Bronzinelle Rouge Coteaux du Languedoc, from Château St. Martin de la Garrigue. See an earlier posting for more about St. Martin de la Garrigue. And there was also Cuvée Charles from Domaine de la Croix Chaptal, and an easy to drink Domaine Jordy, Tradition. But they were dwarfed by le Chemin des Rêves and Plan de l’Om.

And last but not least was Fingal Rock from Monmouth.

Tom Innes concentrates on Burgundy - we share an enthusiasm for Chablis - but he is now extgending his horizons further south.
Domaine Puech-Berthier, Pays d'Oc, Sauvignon - £7.95

This comes from vineyards near the enchanging town of Uzes. It has beautifully understated varietal character, with a freshness that is uncharacteristic of the Languedoc. Quite a pithy nose, with frim stony mineral fruit and good acidity. A lovely discovery


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