Around the tastings looking for Languedoc.
Last week started well with Yapp Brothers www.yapp.co.uk celebrating their 50thanniversary. That is quite a milestone and they included a wine from each decade. The 1969 Montlouis Demi-Sec from Domaine Berger quite belied its age, with dry honeyed flavours and good acidity. In the early days Robin and Judith Yapp concentrated on the Rhône and the Loire Valleys, but their sons, Jason and Tom, have diversified, so they now have one of my favourite Pic St Loup,
2017 Mas Bruguière, l’Arbouse - £17.50
A blend of 60% Syrah, aged for twelve months in large barrels, and 40% Grenache Noir kept in concrete vats, with some elegant dry spice on the nose, with riper notes on the palate. Balanced with some spicy fruit and considerable depth, and youthful nuances. A lovely glass of wine that will continue to evolve.
There were other wines from the south, an elegant Cap Corse rosé from Domaine Pieretti an intriguing blend of Nielluccio, Grenache Noir and Alicante Bouschet.
Yapp Bros have long represented Domaine de Trévallon, a humble IGP but the best estate of Les Baux de Provence, as Eloi Dürrbach has always obstinately refused to plant the Grenache Noir that is needed to make the wine an appellation. The 2003 vintage exuded character, with spicy cedary fruit, and quite an intense palate with weight and length.
The other offering from the Languedoc came from Domaine de la Grange des Pères in Aniane, again an IGP, 2015 Pays de l’Hérault blanc, and a blend of Roussanne, Chardonnay, Marsanne and Gros Manseng. The oak was still quite evident, but underneath there was fruit and plenty of layers of flavour, with some rich leesy notes, a textured palate and some firm acidity. It was still very youthful and promising to reward some bottle age.
Tuesday was the 40thanniversary of the shippers, Thorman Hunt. www.thormanhunt.co.uk
They have an extensive list, including quite a few different Languedoc estates.
There were a pair of Minervois from J M Cazes. 2016 L’Ostal Minervois Estibals was ripe and spicy with supple tannins and drinking beautifully The Grand Vin from l’Ostal, also 2016, was much sturdier on the nose, with drier spice, and more opulent on the palate, with some ripe spice and appealing black fruit. It was a rich mouthful of the warm south.
Next came a pair of Fitou from Domaine Bertrand Bergé. 2016 Cuvée Origines was ripe and spicy on the nose, a wine of the warm south, with distinctly furry tannins on the palate and some dense fruit on the palate. It was also a tad alcoholic at 14.5°. 2017 Cuvée Mégalithes was also quite dense on the palate, with the concentration that is typical of a ripe Fitou.
The Fitou contrasted nicely with Château la Bastide, Corbières. The 2016 Cuvée Tradition is slightly leaner and drier with some firm fruit. It is a blend of 60% Syrah with 20% each of Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre with quite an elegant finish and some peppery notes.
2017 Domaine de l’Herbe Sainte from the Minervois was ripe with a rounded palate and a touch of vanilla.
I always find the red wines of Château de la Négly on la Clape quite ripe and intense. Cuvée la Cote, Languedoc, was ripe and rounded with a firm tannic streak while Cuvée la Falaise was rounded with intense black fruit and tapenade, with texture and weight in the mouth. However, the estate’s white wine, Brise Marine, from la Clape is one of my favourites of that appellation, with some lovely fresh saline fruit, good acidity and a dry finish.
Wednesday saw me at Lea & Sandeman. They had a couple of varietal wines from Domaine les Yeuses near Mèze, but for me the standout southern wine was the 2018 Domaine Tempier Bandol rosé, with a very pale ethereal colour, and delicate fruit on both nose and palate. The palate was elegantly concentrated, and at the same time elegantly understated, and beautifully harmonious. A simply lovely glass of wine; I can’t wait to drink it in some southern sunshine.
The next day was the turn of The Wine Society where the Languedoc was conspicuous by its absence, even though they have a very strong Languedoc list. A pity. I consoled myself with Antoine Arena’s delicious Muscat from Cap Corse, with notes of honey and lemon.
Next came Field, Morris & Verdin. They were ignoring the Languedoc too, but there was a characterful wine from Le Soula in Roussillon, namely La Macération du Soula No 16, Côtes Catalanes. It was orange golden in colour, with a firm concentrated nose with some tannin as well as acidity on the palate and some intriguing fruit. It had a lovely fresh finish with a lift.
Yesterday saw me at The Theatre of Wine, for an eclectic range of wines. The Languedoc was represented by a pair of Corbières, from Clos de l’Anhel. 2017 Lolo de l’Anhel is a blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with some ripe spicy fruit, with fleshy notes on the palate, and a firm streak of tannin.
That was accompanied by their 2015 Corbières les Dimanches, from the same grape varieties. It was deep in colour, with some firm fruit, but more elegant and stylish on the palate than Lolo de l’Anhel, but both were nicely warming Corbières on a rather chilly morning.
Next to them, very intriguingly, were wines from the only private estate in Algeria, Grands Crus de l'Ouest, a white from Clairette and Ugni blanc that was rounded and leafy, coming from vines in the Coteaux de Mascara. The rosé, Gris de Sables, was a pure Cinsaut and delicate and fresh on the palate, while the pair of reds, from Grenache, Cinsaut and Alicante formed a nice contrast. Koutoubia Red 2017 was spicy with light fruit and tannins, while Saint Augustin 2014 was more substantial, and structured. They quite belied any preconceived ideas about wines from North Africa. And I don't think I have knowing tasted or drunk a a wine from Algeria before.