Château Rives-Blanques

A catch up with Jan and Caryl Panman at Château Rives Blanques in Limoux last week over the 2015 vintage, with which they are very pleased.  Caryl described it as a surprising vintage.  May and June were hot, while August was cooler, which slowed down the ripening.  And the summer was mainly dry, with a little rain.  They began picking at the end of August, and finished the harvest a week before it even began in 2014.   Who said the Languedoc has consistent vintages?  One of the problems of 2015 was the difficulty of getting pickers together earlier than usual. 

2013 Crémant de Limoux - 12.7
Chardonnay and Chenin blanc, 2 years on lees.  Just  1 gm/l dosage
Delicately rounded and creamy, with fresh acidity on the finish.  A lovely glass of wine. 

2014 Blanquette de Limoux - 12.75
100% Mauzac, although the appellation states a minimum of 90%.  One year on lees, versus 9 months in the regulations.  No dosage.   The label portrays the calligraphy of the oldest document mentioning the sparkling wine of Limoux.

Quite fresh herbal notes on nose and palate.  Nicely creamy with good fruit.  The same price as Crémant, as it takes as much effort to make.  The Panmans definitely do not see their Blanquette as a lesser product.

2014 Crémant de Limoux rosé - 13.65
This includes just 4% Pinot Noir to give the delicate pink colour.  Delicate but firm on the nose and palate, with more structure. It is amazing how much difference just a little Pinot Noir can make to the structure of the wine, as well as providing some lovely hints of raspberry fruit.

There was been some modification to the appellation rules for Crémant, with some fine-tuning of the permitted percentages.  Apparently some people wanted to introduce mechanical harvesters, which was not allowed, (phew!) and others were lobbying for single variety sparkling wine, but that was not allowed either.  

And now on  to still wines:

2015 Vin de Pays Chardonnay and Chenin.  7.65
The grapes are mechanically harvested at night and fermented in stainless steel. Light and delicate with good acidity, making for easy drinking.  

2015 Occitanie Mauzac - 12.75
From sixty year old vines, grown on clay and limestone.  5% of the Mauzac is fermented in new barrels to provide a little more body and weight.  A light golden colour, with a rounded slightly herbal nose and quite soft fruit on the palate.  The grapes are picked four weeks later than for Blanquette.

2015 Chenin Dédicace - 12.75
Pale colour.  Dry honey on both nose and palate.  A nicely rounded palate, with good balancing acidity and youthful honey notes.  Very harmonious balance and promising a long life.   
10% is fermented in new barrels, but from four different coopers

Odyssée Chardonnay - 12.75
This is their biggest selling still wine, of which they produce 20,000 bottles p.a. as opposed to 8000 for the other still wines.  Depending on the vintage, 15 - 20% of the grapes are fermented in new wood.  There is a hint of vanilla on both nose and palate, with some rounded buttery fruit balanced by acidity on the palate.  Quite youthful and firm.  Nicely ripe and balanced, with good acidity and ripe fruit.  The various plots are kept separate, which makes for variations at blending.

2015 Limoux - 12.75
They describe this as an easy drinking restaurant wine.  Quite rounded with some balancing freshness.  A touch of oak, and a herbal note.  Quite intriguing.  

2015 Trilogie - 25.00
A blend of the best barrels each year, making just 1-2000 bottles per year.  They taste each barrel each month and see how things are developing.  Lots of nuances and depth with balancing acidity and structure.  Quite a firm youthful finish.  Definitely a wine that will develop in bottle.


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