Cave de Roquebrun, Terraces de la Rocanière 2010

88+ points

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.

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Chateau Simone 2007

89 points

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.

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La Briffaude 2000

90+ points

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.

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Chateau Maurel Fonsalade ‘La Fonsalafe’ Saint Chinian 2000

91 points

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.

Domaine de L’Oratoire St Martin Haut-Coustias 2000

90 points

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.

Domaine Auzias 2005

82 points

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.

Gerard Bertrand Chateau L’Hospitalet la reserve 2007

88 points

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.

Chateau de Veyran clos de l’olivette 2005

88+ points

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.

Rimauresq 2005

88 points

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.

Ollieux Romanis ‘Atal Sia’ Corbières Boutenac 2005

89+ points

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 ?).

Chateau de l’Engarran ‘cuvée Quetton Saint-Georges’ 2004

86 points

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.

Chateau Cap De Fouste ‘grande reserve’ 2002

87 points

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!