Friday 23 January 2009

Bottle talk: La Clape v St Chinian and a gorgeous Viognier

One of the joys of having a few good bottles in the cellar is being able to share them with friends. Barrie (quite the perfect guest and a serious wine nut) has been visiting from the UK for a few days, bearing fabulous vinous gifts which include classic Bordeaux in the shape of Cissac 1982, top notch Rhone Beaucastel 1994 and a stonking Barossa Shiraz from master winemaker Dave Powell (ex Torbreck).  These have  been carefully put away for another day but we did open some rather nice bottles of local hooch as Barrie was eager to expand his knowledge of Languedoc wine.

We had great fun comparing two Languedoc heavyweights. Firstly, La Centaurée 2002, the top wine from Pech Redon which is my favourite estate in La Clape and a very special place to visit. 2002 is often written off as a poor year but this wine proved how misleading such generalisations can be.  After a couple of hours in the decanter it smelt of sweet berried fruit, with a heady whiff of the garrigue (wild herbs - rosemary/thyme), tar and a hint of coffee. Excellent concentration of dark blackberry and plum fruit with lots of other flavours in there too: licquorice, smoked meat, hint of rosemary. Very rich mid palate which balances the firm yet round tannins. Good long finish. Decant in advance and drink now to 2018. 
18.5/20. Approx €15

Drunk alongside this was the 2004 Vin Maghani from top St Chinian producer Canet-Valette.  I have enjoyed the 2001 vintage of this wine and the 2004 is very good but still young. It needs time to come together as the acidity and tannins stand apart and are not yet harmonised with the fruit. Nonetheless, there is much to admire in the meaty, smoky nose and spicy black fruit flavours with notes of olive, herbs and game. Lovely long finish. Drink 2011-18.
16/20. €22

A local white wine which blew us all away was a textbook example of the Viognier grape from Domaine Les Murettes in La Livinière. At €7 a bottle this is great value and a real charmer with a 'come hither' nose of ripe peaches and honeysuckle and oodles of exotic fruit on the palate. As it is a mere table wine, the vintage could not printed on the label but presumably it is the 2007. I'm tasting there next Tuesday so will report back.

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