Ellis of Richmond’s 200th anniversary
It is not every day you get to go to a 200thanniversary party, but 200 years is how long Ellis of Richmond have been trading, with the company now run by the 7thgeneration, James, William and Robert. So to mark the occasion, they hosted a large tasting in the magnificent floral Hall of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
And what fun it was. There were so many different wines to and so many people to see that I stayed far longer than I intended. I talked to friends in Tuscany and New Zealand and caught up with English wines and of course tasted the various offerings from the south, Provence as well as Languedoc, beginning with Famille Fabre.
The prices quoted are those on Ellis of Richmond’s list, so a trade price per bottle ex. VAT
Clémence Fabre recognised me from our zoom conversation so it was very sympa to meet her properly. She was showing just four wines:
2020 Sauvignon Blanc Grande Courtade d’Or, Pays d’Oc - £8.85
Quite rounded ripe sauvignon fruit. A touch of exotic fruit, with some balancing acidity.
2021 Grande Courtade Rosé d’Oc – £8.75
An unusual blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Pinot Noir and 45% Merlot. A very pale colour. Quite rounded ripe fruit on both nose and palate. Dry raspberries. Fresh with a streak of acidity.
2019 Corbières - £9.35
A blend of 35% Carignan, 25% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre and 15% Grenache Noir. Aged in vat. Ripe spicy garrigues fruit, supple tannins. Youthful with some potential. A satisfying example of Corbières.
NV Pét Nat - £15.60
60% Sauvignon and 40% Colombard. No fining or filtering and the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Very Sauvignon on the nose. Frothy, rounded and fun.
2021 O de Rosé - £11.40
A blend of Grenache, with some Syrah and an experimental 5% Viognier. Pale colour. A hint peachy on the nose, but on the palate firmer and tighter with some acidity and quite tight flavours.
2021 Cabernet Franc 1620 - £8.35
Deep young colour. Rounded berry fruit on the nose, and more on the palate with ripe fruit and a balancing tannic streak, with a fresh finish. Good balance, with lovely varietal character.
2018 Cabardès Terres Brunes Assemblage Rouge - £9.25
Vaguely equal proportions of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Grenache Noir and Syrah. Medium colour. Quite rounded nose, with more leathery fruit on the palate. Quite supple tannins. Rich and spicy. Lots of nuances.
2019 Minervois la Livinière, Domaine de la Borie Blanche - £12.65
Mainly Syrah. Élevage in 600 litre barrels. Fermented in 30 hls wooden vats, and also concrete vats. Deep colour. Some ripe spicy fruit, garrigues and spice. Rounded medium weight. A touch of tapenade. Some lovely nuances. A rich glass of flavour.
Ronan Lieugard was pouring the wines of Château d’Esclans. I know it is Provence rather than Languedoc, but this seemed a good opportunity for an update on the range of rosé from this pioneering estate that has done great things to the reputation of rosé. All the wines are Côtes de Provence.
2021 The Pale - £13.50
A blend of 40% Grenache, with some Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, all co-fermented. Very pale colour. Nicely rounded but elegant ripe fruit, with fresh acidity on the finish.
2021 Whispering Angel - £16.95
A blend of 80% Grenache Noir and 20% Vermentino. Half fermented in tank and half in well-used barrels. A nicely rounded nose and palate; both supple and subtle with fruit and an elegant finish. Very stylish.
2020 Rock Angel - £25.95
Light colour. Firmer, more structured nose and palate, with firm fruit and good balancing acidity with some ageing potential.
2020 Estate Rosé - £33.50
Pale colour. Quite firm and structured on the nose and palate. Much tighter knit, but with good fruit as well as good acidity. This is serious wine. And far from the usual idea of rosé as an easy drink.
2020 Les Clans – £55.00
Very pale colour. Firm structured nose. With good weight on the palate, and depth with weight and length. A refreshingly dry finish, with underlying elegance.
2020 Garrus - £94.50
Elegant salmon pink colour. Some well integrated oak on the nose and palate. Structured with firm fruit. Layers of flavour. Depth and elegance. This is stylish rosé and expensive, but don’t forget that the most of expensive rosé of all comes from the Languedoc.
There were other rosés from two estates that were unknown to me, first Château Paradis in the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence with three wines, Essenciel Rose, Château Paradis Rose and best of all Terre des Anges, from a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Vermentino, fermented in wood, which made for satisfying structure and some peppery fruit. £14.25
And Domaine Tropez near the village of Gassin in the Côtes de Province. A family estate from 1930, with 60 hectares of vines, from which 80% of the production is rose. With Crazy Tropez an IGP Mediterranée, from Grenache and Cinsault. £9.10. Crazy Bulles Rosé was lightly sparkling; the bubbles are added with a pump, to give a prickle, and there was also some residual sugar. £11.15. Best was White Tropez Rose in a white bottle, a blend of 40% Cinsault, 30% Grenache and 30% Vermentino, with some rounded fruit and good acidity. £15.95.