Wednesday, 11 February 2009

White Corbières anyone?

Corbières is known for its rugged, full-throttle reds so it is unusual to come across a producer who has built a reputation on the quality of its white wines. Domaine Roque Sestière is a small, family domaine, owned by Roland and Isabelle Lagarde, who make approximately 60,000 bottles a year, of which 70% is white. It was Isabelle’s father who created the domaine’s reputation for white wine and it has been proudly carried on by his daughter and son-in-law since taking over the domaine in 1994. 

The wine was first made in Ouveillan but the Lagardes have built a small but perfectly formed chai next to their house in the neighbouring village of Luc St Orbieu. The vineyards are still in Ouveillan but Roland has dramatically reduced the hectarage from 30 to 15 which gives him much more control over production and means he only needs to employ one worker.

When I visited in mid December, Roland was very preoccupied getting ready for bottling his 2008 whites. As I tasted the 2008 whites from tank he was anxiously pacing the floor to check that the bottling line would fit his small cellar. Nevertheless, he and Isabelle were very welcoming and one senses that they have a loyal clientele who appreciate, not only the quality and fair prices of their wines, but the passion and care of the people who make them.  

2008 Corbières Blanc, Carte Noire (tank sample)Appealing, fresh, zesty nose. Similarly fresh, peachy fruit with a hint of peach kernel; Good balancing and acidity and medium length. 15/20

2008 their biggest vintage ever and they are very happy with the quality.

 2008 Blanc Vieilles Vignes (tank sample). Similar (to previous wine) peach, nutty fruit on nose and palate but with more breadth and slight leesiness. Good acidity and long finish. Very promising. 16/20

 2007 Corbières Vieilles Vignes

leesy nose, apricot kernel. Attractive nutty, yeasty palate. Medium depth, balanced. Slightly hot finish. 14/20

Corbières Tradition Rouge 2006 €5

Upfront aromas of cherry and tar. Explosively fruity palate – cherry – almost jam – hint of bitter chocolate, firmness to tannins, slightly rustic, but essentially a very fruity, appealing wine which represents excellent value. 14/20



Monday, 9 February 2009

Apremont - the perfect wine on the piste.

It's fair to say that most wines consumed on ski holidays are best forgotten. So during a ski holiday in the Alps last week, I particularly enjoyed rediscovering a cracking Alpine wine, Apremont.
Apremont  is from the Savoie region, near Chambery and is made from the little-known Jacquère grape. As far as I know, Jacquère is only found in the Savoie and northern Rhone. Apremont is pale coloured and delicately scented with fresh, citrussy fruit flavours and a slightly minerally edge. Basically it is beautifully fresh and uplifting, a bit like the mountain air.  Domaine Les Rocailles make an excellent example, and it is widely distributed.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Garrigue - what is it?

Tasting notes of southern french red wines often include the intriguing descriptor 'garrigue'. So, what is it exactly? Garrigue is the name given to the Mediterranean scrubland which is made up of low growing, bushy plants including holm oak, juniper, broom and wild herbs such as rosemary and thyme. In Provence it also includes lavender although I have never seen this in the wild in the Languedoc. 

Walking amongst the garrigue on a warm day, crushing herbs underfoot, releases a fabulous aroma of warm thyme and rosemary. When used to describe a wine, garrigue refers to these green herby aromas. It can also be used to describe flavours too although I find it more evocative as a descriptor for aroma.

Thanks for the picture Loulou.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? An unpleasant disease?
No it's a grape variety! And one I have to confess I'd never heard of until I tasted an example from Domaine de Brau at the Millesime-Bio wine fair in Montpellier last week.
Egiodola is a cross between Fer Servadou and Arbouriu. Fer Servadou is a characterful black grape found in south west France, particularly the Aveyron where is the main ingredient in Marcillac. It hitched up with Arbouriou (a variety which hails from the Lot originally) in the 1950s and the resulting Egiodola crops up occasionally in south west France and, curiously, in Brasil.
Egiodola means 'pure blood' in Basque.
The lady at Domaine de Brau explained that the wine combines up-front fruitiness with extreme tannins. Which it did.
So now you know!