Friday, 31 August 2007

Summer 2007

Anyone who has not made it out of the UK this summer may want to turn away for the next sentence or two, We have just returned from four glorious weeks around France which have, inevitably, included a fair amount of sampling. We visited some areas for the first time (Cahors) and spent time in other very familiar regions (the Southern Rhône, now there's a surprise!). Our mission was to find some of the more unusual wines being made - these included a Rhône Tannat, pure Mourvèdre wines and some late-harested, botrytised Grenache. The only disappointment was a VDP Cabernet from one of the Côtes du Rhône Villages' leading producers (not one we work with) which should have been better. A silver lining to this very slight wisp of a cloud was discovered soon after our return with the arrival of Domaine des Anges' VDP de Vaucluse Cabernet Sauvignon.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Domaine des Anges' Cabernet outguns the big boys

Anyone who has not made it out of the UK this summer may want to turn away for the next sentence or two, We have just returned from four glorious weeks around France which have, inevitably, included a fair amount of sampling. We visited some areas for the first time (Cahors) and spent time in other very familiar regions (the Southern Rhône, now there's a surprise!). Our mission was to find some of the more unusual wines being made - these included a Rhône Tannat, pure Mourvèdre wines and some late-harested, botrytised Grenache. The only disappointment was a VDP Cabernet from one of the Côtes du Rhône Villages' leading producers (no names!) which should have been better. A silver lining to this very slight wisp of a cloud is blogged on 17th August below.

Took possession of a small parcel of VDP de Vaucluse Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaine des Anges as a favour to the estate (a long story) and thought I should open a bottle straight away as I hadn't tasted it for about a year. It's a wine I have always thought pretty good but, perhaps, a little overpriced at the estate's desired price point of around £7-£8. At £6, however, it's a steal. The fruit is superb: lovely, rich blackcurrant with a trace of oak and none of that leafiness that dogs so many Bordeaux wines or olive character that can make some southern Cabernets frankly a bit weird (and certainly none of the overt jaminess that renders so many New World examples at this price point undrinkable). Unlike the weather, this was something worth coming home to.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Tasting with Raymond - 2004 and 2005 Usseglio wines at the domaine

On our last day in the Southern Rhône, we stopped for a picnic on the side of a road leading into Châteauneuf before popping in to see Raymond Usseglio to retaste his 2005s (and 2004s) including my first taste of the Impériale from bottle. When I arrived, we discussed the relative merits of the two vintages as I have been a big fan of the 2004s from Raymond in particular (although fairly extensive tastings during the Fête de la Veraison, the annual party held in the village to celebrate the ripening grapes, revealed many other extremely good 2004s, generally drinking well already). Raymond said he didn't know what all the fuss was with 2005 when you considered his 2004s and, in a way he's right. The standard 2004 is one of the best wines I have tasted from the vintage (at this price level anyway) with immense potential. Unlike some others, it isn't really ready yet: the tannins are still quite assertive but, really, that's a positive thing as it means the wine will hold together for several years whilst it develops in complexity. The 2005 is a touch more in every respect: not enough to belittle its older sibling but enough to make me want to buy both! The 2004 Impériale, especially, is magnificent (very Burgundian, I thought) and the standard bottling is almost indistinguishable in style and quality from its younger sibling. However, the 2005 Impériale really shone out as being that bit more impressive for the longer term. When I tasted this in January it was quite muted; not any more. Superb old-vine Grenache which shows why this is probably the best vintage since 1998 at least.

A round-up with Raymond

On our last day in the Southern Rhône, we stopped for a picnic on the side of a road leading into Châteauneuf before popping in to see Raymond Usseglio to retaste his 2005s (and 2004s) including my first taste of the Impériale from bottle.

When I arrived, we discussed the relative merits of the two vintages as I have been a big fan of the 2004s from Raymond in particular (although fairly extensive tastings during the Fête de la Veraison, the annual party held in the village to celebrate the ripening grapes, revealed many other extremely good 2004s, generally drinking well already). Raymond said he didn't know what all the fuss was with 2005 when you considered his 2004s and in a way he's right.

The standard 2004 is one of the best wines I have tasted from the vintage (at this price level anyway) with immense potential. Unlike some others, it isn't really ready yet: the tannins are still quite assertive but that means the wine will hold together for several years whilst it develops in complexity. The 2005 is a touch more in every respect: not enough to belittle its older sibling but enough to make me want to buy both!

The 2004 Impériale, especially, is magnificent (very Burgundian, I thought) and the standard bottling is almost indistinguishable in style and quality from its younger sibling. However, the 2005 Impériale really shone out as being that bit more impressive for the longer term. When I tasted this in January it was quite muted; not any more. Superb old-vine Grenache which shows why this is probably the best vintage since 1998 at least.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Mourchon a "Smart Buy" in the Wine Spectator

From Séguret, Domaine de Mourchon's Côtes du Rhône Villages 'Grande Reserve' 2005 was
reviewed as "impressive, showing lots of juicy plum, currant and boysenberry fruit with nice hints of garrigue, tar and liquorice. There's plenty of toast on the finish but also solid minerality" 91/100 SMART BUY (Wine Spectator)