STONE, VINE AND SUN and the Languedoc

Another deviation from Limoux.   The Winchester based wine merchants, Stone Vine and Sun, have always made the Languedoc a bit of a speciality. Indeed their name conjures up the key ingredients of the Languedoc, stony vineyards in warm sunshine. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to taste some of their offerings from the Languedoc at a recent press tasting at the Maison du Languedoc. They showed 34 wines altogether. What follows are some highlights – and the prices are their retail prices.

Beginning with white wines:

2011 Creyssels, Picpoul de Pinet - £8.25
A new name for me, and an estate based in Mèze. A firm salty nose, which good Picpoul should have, with a pithy salty palate, with a good balance of acidity. The only thing that was missing was an oyster.

2010 Château La Grave, Minervois, Expression - £7.95
Possibly a hint of oak, with nicely rounded textured fruit on the palate. Good balance of weight and acidity, and an understated fresh finish.

2010 Domaine la Croix Belle, le Champ des Lys, Côtes de Thongue - £8.95
A blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier. Peachy lemony notes on the nose. Quite rounded and ripe on the palate, with some peachy fruit. Medium weight and nicely perfumed.

2011 Domaine du Météore, Faugères blanc, les Léonides - £10.50
A blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. Light colour and quite a delicate nose. Some white blossom on the palate, but quite delicate. Still very young and understated. Should fill out with some age

2010 Domaine Belle Pierres, Coteaux du Languedoc, Clauzes de Jo - £11.75
A blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier. Quite rounded nose, with some peachy hints on the palate. Quite rounded with some body and intriguing layers of flavour, with a dry finish.

And now onto a couple of rosés:

2011 Château la Grave, Minervois Rosé, Expression - £7.95
Light colour, with a touch of strawberry on the nose. Quite rounded, ripe fruit on the palate. Quite fresh and mouth filling, balanced with good acidity. A food rosé.

2011 Domaine du Météore, Faugères Rosé, la Tour Fabienne - £8.75
Light orange pink colour. A light, dry nose, with some herbal hints. And the palate, more notes of the garrigues. Good body with a dry finish.

And then some reds:

2010 Domaine la Croix Belle, Caringole Rouge, Côtes de Thongue - £7.95
A blend of Merlot, Syrah and Carignan. Quite a firm dry nose, and on the palate, rounded, ripe fruit. Very easy drinking, simple pleasure and sunshine in a glass, with a ripe finish.

2009 Terres Falmet, Cinsaut, Vin de France - £7.75
Medium colour. Dry cherry fruit on the nose, with a touch of spice. A fresh spicy palate, with quite a firm finish. Medium weight. Lovely example of an underrated grape variety.

2009 Domaine des Trinités, Faugères, le Portail - £9.25
Medium colour – quite rounded ripe fruit. Rounded ripe fruit on the nose with lovely ripe spice on the palate. Easy and rounded with good depth. Classic Faugères at its sunniest.

2009 Domaine Belles Pierres, Coteaux du Languedoc, les Clauzes de Jo – £11.25
Medium colour. Quite firm leathery fruit on the nose and palate. Quite a dense solid palate, with ripe leathery flavours. Still very youthful.

2009 Domaine Fontanel, Côtes du Roussillon - £9.95
Medium colour. Ripe, rounded and warm, and almost a touch raisiny on both nose and palate. Good depth of flavour, with ripe fruit and a firm backbone. Nicely balanced, with the satisfying warmth of Roussillon.

2008 Domaine du Météore, Faugères, les Orionides - £11.75
 Deep young colour. Quite firm dry leathery notes on the nose, and on the palate good firm leathery fruit, with a warm note on the finish. They must have missed the hail that affected so many estates in Faugères in 2008.

2010 Domaine du Grand Arc, Corbières, En Sol Majeure - £14.50
Quite a deep colour. Solid ripe leathery nose. Ripe and rounded on the palate, with a firm tannic streak and some leathery notes. Good depth of flavour. Nicely mouth-filling and satisfying.

And now a couple of vins doux to finish with:

1999 Domaine Fontanel, Rivesaltes Ambré - £14.95
Light amber red colour. Delicious liquid walnuts on nose and palate, with a hint of bitter orange. Quite ripe. Some honey and unctuously smooth fruit with a bite on the finish. Lovely length. Rivesaltes at its most delicious. These wines are grossly underrated.

2006 Domaine du Traginer, Banyuls, Rimage - £17.95
Medium red colour. Spicy red fruit on the nose, and more liquorice on the palate, with a tannic streak. Youthful and ripe, with a slightly spirity finish.


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