Mas Gabriel - an update.
A friendly tasting with Deborah and Peter Core.
A vat sample of 2021 Carignan Blanc. There are only about 40 hectares of Carignan Blanc in the whole of the Languedoc. They have just one hectare. It is difficult to obtain; the pépiniéristes do not stock it, and if you want to plant it, there are no subsidies available as there might be for more conventional choices. They obtained cuttings from Oliver Jullien six years ago. Peter mused: how about a sparkling wine made from Carignan blanc with a bit of Vermentino? He could develop it in time for his retirement party. He has only recently turned 60 so there is a bit of time yet.
The 2021 vat sample had finished its fermentation. It was quite bready on the nose, with some firm acidity and satisfying texture on the body, with nice finish. It is on the fine lees.
A future component of Clos des Lièvres, with 12-year-old Syrah and 10% Grenache Noir had a deep inky colour. Although it had finished fermentation, but not yet done its malo, the aromas were quite fermentaire. On the palate there was a peppery note, with a touch of torrefaction. Tasting very young wine is not easy; I am no expert, though I am quite game to give it a go when the opportunity arises.
And then to wines in bottle:
2020 Fleurs Sauvages Rosé – 10.50€
A field blend of Cinsault and Carignan with a little Grenache Gris in one plot. The blend will be different in 2021 as they suffered frost damage, so that blend will include some young Cinsault vines, with a little Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris. The 2020 had a fresh dry nose, with red fruit, raspberry, strawberry, red currant. On the palate there was good acidity, with nicely vinous weight.
2020 Clos des Papillons – 16€
Carignan Blanc makes up 75% of the blend, filled out with some Vermentino. Firm stony nose, with minerality notes. Lightly lees palate, with good fruit and a satisfying balance of weight and acidity. In 2021 the percentage of Carignan Blanc will be higher, with some whole bunch pressing. No oak.
2019 Champs des Bluets – 16.00€
Vermentino accounts for 80 – 85% of the blend, with a little Grenache Gris and Blanc. A third of the blend is fermented in an acacia barrel, which they like, as it does not impart any vanilla notes, but adds some satisfying weight. The lees give complexity. A more herbal sappy nose and a nicely rounded palate. it is not made every year. There was frost in 2017 and 2021; 2018 suffered an attack of mildew and the 2020 is not yet on sale.
2020 Trois Terrasses – 12.00€
Old Carignan, 75%, blend with Syrah and a little Grenache Noir. Kept in a concrete tank. No wood. Blended in late December and bottled in the spring. The Carignan comes from three blocks, hence the name, planted in 1955, 1965 and 1970.
Good colour. Quite a firm peppery nose with some berry fruit, and on the palate more berry fruit, balanced with some peppery notes. Quite a firm young finish, as you would expect, with the freshness of Carignan.
2019 Trois Terrasses
A very similar blend. A rich and rounded nose – the summer was much warmer, with a heatwave in 2020. Perfumed fruit. Medium weight palate, with a freshness on the finish, showing how well Carignan is suited to the heat of the south.
2019 Clos des Lièvres, Pézenas
Syrah dominates the blend, with at least 70%, if not 80%, with some Grenache. Élevage in wood, in 500 litres wood. Botted in April 2021. Medium colour. Rounded spice on the nose, blackcurrant gums, spice and pepper on the palate, with a touch of tapenade and black fruit. Good weight, but elegantly so, with a fresh finish.
2018 Clos des Lièvres
Similar blend to the 2019. Bottled in May 2020. Medium colour. Intense blackcurrant gums on the nose. Quite firm and peppery on the palate, with quite dense fruit. 2018 was marked by a cool spring.
2016 Clos des Lièvres
Deep young colours. Quite firm dark fruit on the nose, and the palate rounded, with ripe dense fruit. The Syrah was very ripe. This was a drought year. And Peter observed that 2015 was the last ‘normal’ year.
And then we adjourned to the cheerful wine bar in Faugères, Les Grands Vins du Terroir, for some more tasting, as they always have a small selection of bottles open. There were a couple of wines from Mas Nicolas, a fresh and rounded rosé and a peachy Viognier. La Tour Penedesses Montagne Noir is a blend of Vermentino with Roussanne and a little Viognier, with fragrant white flowers and a hint of oak. Frédéric Brouca’s Champs Pentus is a blend of Roussanne and Grenache blanc, with more weight. 2019 Domaine des Trinités Portail, from Syrah and a little Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Grenache, with no wood, was ripe with a fresh finish. La Grange d’Ain with 80% Carignan and some Grenache has red fruit, and what I call a natural edge. The final wine was Tardel Laurens, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and a little Mourvèdre, with sturdy ripe fruit, but a drying oaky finish. I opted for a refreshing glass of Nicolas Maury’s rosé with my lunch.