Friday, 29 April 2011

More tales from Canterbury

The Wine Tasting Society that meets each month in Christchurch University will be celebrating its 30th anniversary later this year so congratulations to Keith and everyone for that. I have been going along every year for the last ten or so, so they must think I am doing something right. They are a great crowd: they always want Rhone wines which, of course, I am happy to give them and they are very knowledgeable about both wine and what they want from it. That all makes my job extremely easy.

Highlights included the mature 2002 white Chateauneuf from Domaine Grand Veneur: "La Fontaine" is 100% old-vine, barrel-aged Roussanne and it is quite stunning. The secondary characters have taken over now and the wine is very much enjoying its (relative) old-age.

The most popular reds were probably the 2009s: Bressy-Masson's Cotes du Rhone (more like a Rasteau Village wine), Cristia's Cotes du Rhone "Garrigues" (100% old-vine Grenache aged in small barrels) and Domaine de la Charite's Christophe Coste's new venture in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau Capucine (also 100% old-vine Grenache aged in small barrels but very different from the Cristia wine: more classic, less oaky).

Other wines were also well-received including Laurent Brusset's 2007 Cairanne "Chabriles" which is a rich, spicy blend of equal parts Grenache and Syrah, Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2007 and Charite's "Dame Noire", a pure Mourvedre cuvee. A brief mention of Christophe's ice wine from the south of France aroused curiosity too.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

In the Rhone again

The excuse was a couple of weeks to sort out my year end but, inevitably, I have done no paperwork whatsoever although the tax man cannot say I have not been working.

Arrived here on Sunday and on Monday went off to Gigondas where they are working on the Caveau with the walls being held up by big metal things (my technological vocabulary could be better!). Went off to Clos des Cazaux, an excellent estate which has holdings in both Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Unfortunately, they set the pattern for what seems to be the norm down here: tell everyone how great 2008 is and get shot of it quickly. The wines were not all bad though but it was the superb Grenat Noble (a later harvested, botrytised Grenache) and Prestige (largely Syrah), both from 2006 which impressed.

At the temporary Caveau, there were walls and walls of 2008s and a handful of other vintages. For old times' sake, I tasted the 2007 Notre Dame des Pallieres (nothing to do with the VT-owned vineyard) which had a delightful elegance to the fruit unlike one or two others which were a little jammy (Terme) or worryingly tannic (Redortier which, sadly, has never been the same since Etienne de Menthon handed over the winemaking reins to his daughter).

On Thursday, I picked up a friend from the airport in Nimes and popped into Chateau du Campuget - their 2007 Cuvee Sommeliere (pure Syrah, apart from the oak) was extremely good but their other label, Chateau l'Amarine "Cuvee des Bernis" was a steal at 7,50€. I bet it costs rather more in the UK!

Tomorrow I hope to go to the fair in Chateauneuf. I will report back later!