Last Monday I spent a very hot and sticky hour at the CIVL offices in Narbonne, tasting a selection of Corbières. All the wines had won a gold medal in the Concours interprofessonnel des Vins de Corbères.
It's always difficult tasting in the heat and while there is usually enough ice to keep whites and rosés fresh, reds suffer more unless the producers have the time to play the hokey-kokey with ice buckets for them too. My favourite reds were from two estates that I already know well. Ollieux Romanis Prestige 2009 was beautifully balanced with silky tannins and a minerally, spicy complexity. Château de Cendrillon Inèdite also had lovely elegant tannins and excellent concentration of flavour to support the oak. Lots there but not overextracted at all. The Cave co-op at Gruissan had managed to get the temperature just right for their Les Pujots 2010, an attractive spicy, tarry wine with lots of red/black fuit.
Château des Amandières Corbières was from 2011 and was inky and brimming with vibrant fruit, thanks to its youth and to carbonic maceration for Carignan and Syrah and cold soaking for Grenache. Should be delicious in 6 months. Chateau Vieux Moulin Les Ailes 2010 was very concentrated and extracted with plum/plum flavours but I found the tannins rather stewy. Similarly extracted and very powerful was En Sol Majeur from Domaine du Grand Arc in Cucugnan. 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah, aged in oak for a year. No sulphur added until the bottling. Inky, minerally and needing a knife and fork to consume it. Not my style, too OTT, but I'd like to retaste in cooler conditions.
I was pleased to taste the Rosé and red from Domaine Combe Grande in Camplong d'Aude. My local wine shop in Argeliers, Bouchon et Tradition had raved about the red and indeed it is a lovely wine, appealing red/black fruit, a touch of spice and well-managed tannins and all for under 6€. It was their Rosé that won the gold and very nice it was too - fresh, candied with a herbal nose. Château Canos is well known for their Rosé - it accounts for 85% of their production - so no surprise that it had won a gong. Rosé made from press rather than saignée (difficult to do saignée when you only make 15% red!) and from Grenache Gris and Noir. Refreshing with lots of strawberry and redcurrant flavours, and a touch of herbs.
The only whites I tasted were from Roque Sestière who are better known for their whites than their reds. Their Vieilles Vignes white, made from 55% Maccabeu, 35% Grenache, 10% Roussanne was delicious with ripe apple and peach flavours, a hint of almond and a minerally edge.