St. Chinian-Roquebrun. 14%
Fresh, inky, fruity spicy Languedoc. Good stuff. Almost too unctuous for me, but a bit more time will calm it down and introduce more savoury tones. Great value. Exactly the sort of wine people hope to find in their supermarket or local cafe but seldom do.
Provence, France. 13.5%
Interesting, food friendly. Sweet ripe Southern flavours with a distinctly acidic finish that is quite attractive and interesting.
Not simple, but not hard to appreciate. The near perfect restaurant/cafe wine? And maybe will benefit from a little more age.
Aged grenache. OK I know it’s supposed to be more than that, bit that’s all it is.
Not sweet, not brett. Lots of good nots but no great positives either.
Going nowhere. Drink now.
Bandol, France. 13%
The acid was a bit of a shock. Tannin was as expected. But it went well with food and I ended up prefering it to the far more modern chateau de Pibarnon.
Faugeres, France. 13%
Doesn’t look 5 years old, this is concentrated stuff. A blend of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache et Mourvedre it’s very much a Southern wine. With modern (but in a good sense) winemaking, indeed this shows a lot of care. But really needs another 5 years.
Cairanne, France. 13.5%
Good stuff, rich, spicy. But lacks the complexity that aged Shiraz can gain. That said this isn’t that old. Still I’d recommend drinking it now rather than waiting in hope.
Nice to have a Cotes Du Rhone with some age. That said it has more softened than gained complexity. Drink up.
Vin De Pay. 14%
This modestly priced Vin De Pay clearly has pretensions with its heavy bottle, a numbered bottle at that, and still some new oak flavour at 11 years old. Yes this is serious wine, just starting to be mature.
Should provide excellent rich drinking over the next decade. Bravo.
Buy it if you can.
Saint Chinian. 13.5%
I’ve long considered St Chinian a superior appellation in the South – or at least one that produces wines that appeal to me (a higher % of Shiraz).
This is very good. At 10 years of age it is smooth, not soft, with some depth. Warm Shiraz with a touch of vegetal cooler climate character along with a touch of southern spice. The result is a wine I am sure I would find awfully difficult to pick in a blind tasting. More class than usually encountered down South yet different from Northern Rhone. If it were Australian I’d guess it were from Bendigo but I’d still be puzzled.
Cairanne, Southern Rhone. 13.5%
My last bottle of this Mouvedre Syrah blend and one of the few that didn’t taste too young, in fact this has aged a good deal. Warm leathery hints but still spicey with plenty of soft fruity tannins. And then the short finish that always reminds me of corkage and has put me off this wine so often in the past. In spite of Parker’s rave reviews I won’t be buying more (the great 2007 vintage is on sale now) because I can buy and age Australian Shiraz that is better than this.
Lirac, Rhone. 14.5%
Sweet very approachable. 2007 is a very good very friendly up- front vintage in Southern Rhone. Drink now until 2013.
Minervois la Liviniere, France. 14%
Dark bold very Southern in style and flavour. A bit too much raisin.
Good if you like this style I don’t.
Vin de Pays de la Cité de Carcassonne. 12.5%
An intruiging blend of 50% Cab/Merlot with Grenache, Cinsault and Alicante gives a lifted slightly herbal nose. A somewhat dilute wine (to be expected I suppose given the price) with some nice fresh crunchy acidity. Lacks the depth of the similarly priced wines from Gerard Bertrand.
Corbieres, South of France. 13.5%
Well made. Rather classic Southern flavours. Not as exciting as his identically priced (very cheap) Minervois. Great value still.
Another Gérard Bertrand wine (this one given the name of his father). Surprisingly drinkable given its youth, the oak fermentation has emparted subtle oak character. It tastes of the South without being burnt or showing alcohol out of balance. Great value.
Dark rich strong fresh. Liqorice characters. Slight herb aromas Very good value. Needs a couple more years in bottle.
Lovely because of its maturity – drink now. But unexciting considering that this is one of Gerard Bertrand’s very top wines, and priced much higher than his other worthy wines. Also 2001 was a fine vintage in the south of France.
Coteaux du Languedoc, France. 13%
I’m not a huge fan of Rhone whites and even less so of their New World imitators. That said I have tasted many.
I’m happy drinking this though. A savoury characterful wine. Inexpensive.
A blend of 30% Bourboulenc (never heard of it before) 30% Roule 25% Grenache Blanc 15% Rousanne.
PS I’ve just recalled that I am a huge fan of Chateau Tahbilk’s Marsanne from Victoria Australia. Not that these two wines are similar I just thought I should modify my above statements.
Quite a surprise. I think this is the best French chardonnays I’ve tasted outside of Burgundy. And nothing from Burgundy comes close at twice the price. A bit oaky at present but this will pass.
Reminds me of the new wave of cool climate Australian chardonnays.
From a high elevation (450 metres) site near the Pyrenees.
Saint-Chinian, France. 13.5%
An 80% Syrah 20% Grenache blend. Far less classic Southern wine than the Gerard Bertrand Minervois this is more inky in colour, tighter dense fruit, little in the way of spicy southern tannins, more acid. It’s quite an impressive wine but better in a few years. Saint Chinian is an interesting area for potentially fine wines.
Minervois, France. 13.5%
I didn’t like this wine at first. Too fruity spicy sweet. But after a day open it was vastly better, I mean quite a transformation. Well made, very classic warm characterful Southern French blend. Cheap, great value. Recommended.
Nothing special. Marred by spirity finish in spite of the claimed 13.5%.
It’s Bandol all right but the alcohol is over the top in this vintage. Too spirity. Otherwise a good wine.
Southern Rhone, France. 14%
I’m not a great fan of the South of France and Grenache based wines but this is good fun. Spicy without being sickly. T-L wines sometimes seem a little manufactured to me but the recipe is right, shades of Chateauneuf du Pape.
Cotes de Provence, France. 13.5%
Apparently one of a few vineyards currently with Cru Classé status – that’s a new one to me.
Good, more restrained, fine than many Southern wines. The lack of Grenache is noticeable. The blend is Cabernet, Syrah and Carignan. No obvious oak. Surprisingly showing some age.
Corbières Boutenac, France. 14%
Astonishingly approachable, and yet this is a powerful young wine with capacity to age for 5-10 years. I believe this is 100% Carignan an overlooked and unjustly maligned grape variety. This is modern boutique Australian winemaking style. With lashings of black stone fruit and lovely dusty dry chocolate tannins.
Run by a Pierre Borie (any relation to Xavier Borie – of Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste ?).
Côtes Du Roussillon, France. 13%.
Not quite as interesting as the 2001 I think, but better than the 2002. From magnum and yet showing a fair bit of age, not for keeping, for drinking and enjoying now. This is a lovely aged Shiraz/Grenache. A great bargain.
Bandol, France. 13.5%
100% Mourvedre (I think, expect).
Warm and soft, without the extreme spice of some Southern French wines, plus Bandol has elegance. Drinking well now, surprisingly so. Not as concentrated as I might have hoped.
Coteaux du Languedoc, France. 14%
Solid, rich wine, fresh too. This is supposed to be Syrah with just “une touche de Grenache” but it is very much a classic spicy wine of Southern France. Partly this is youth, but mostly terrior. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of this flavour profile.
Leave for a year or two then drink over the following 5 years.
Côtes Du Roussillion, France. 12.5%
Compared with the 2001 this is a fresher, lighter, less chunky wine. Modern and clean. Well balanced winemaking in a lighter vintage. Technically it might be considered a superior wine. But for me it is less interesting.
Good bistro/cafe wine. Good value.
PS the new vintage features a new label, something that wineries do to ensure that their brand does not grow!