Monday, 28 September 2009

Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc v Eminades Silice

The most recent of our many visitors this year was my cousin, a wine-buff who has a good cellar of Bordeaux, port and white Burgundy. This has its advantages - he arrived bearing a bottle of Chateau Palmer 1990 - but, by his own admission, he knew very little about Languedoc wine. We opened quite a few bottles of local wines, purely in the interest of broadening his education you understand.

Two of the most interesting wines were white, both from 2006. The first was Silice, a barrel fermented and matured Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine Les Eminades. I confess that I am not a great fan of oak and sauvignon blanc as they are flavours that are more often at war with each other than not. And tasting this wine when newly bottled only confirmed this opinion. However, with a bit of bottle age, this wine is transformed. It has an intriguing smoky, floral nose and a finely structured, minerally palate with flavours of citrus, toast, smoke. Very pure flavours with an elegant seam of acidity and a long finish. Very good now but has the freshness and concentration to develop over the next couple of years. About 12 euros retail I think.

The 2006 Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc was another wine that had disappointed in its first youth. I first tasted it about 15 months ago and it was unremarkable. Again, a bit of bottle age has transformed it. It has a gorgeously scented floral, peachy, musky nose and a broad, complex palate of apricot, vanilla, lime. Good balancing acidity and a long finish. Like the Silice, this is a Vin de Pays but it is a blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng and Chenin Blanc.

On balance, the Mas de Daumas Gassac was the better of the two wines. The nose is lovely and it had more complexity on the palate. But it is more expensive - 35 euros (although half the price en primeur).

harvest time languedoc - cute

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

La Foire aux Vins 2009

I'm not a big shopper. The thought of rummaging through sales racks with hundreds of other frenzied shoppers or queuing for the latest 'must have' hand bag leaves me cold.

But I did indulge in an orgy of spending today at the Foire aux Vins in Carrefour. Every September, all the major supermarkets have their big, annual wine promotion where some of the big names in the French wine world are for sale at, supposedly, knock down prices.

Given that 80% of what I drink is from the Languedoc, I was looking for wines from further afield. And mostly white. Although Bordeaux is centre stage at most supermarkets' F aux Vins I managed to avoid buying a single bottle of Claret. My cellar is full of the stuff, mostly bought in the UK where I paid silly duty, and then repatriated back to France when I moved here. And we hardly ever drink it.

Instead, my chariot was bursting with white burgundy. A dozen bottles of Jean-Marc Brocard's flinty, unoaked Chablis and a selection of his Bourgogne Blanc from different soil types. At 5,95€, worth a try. I'm looking forward to trying the Macon Villages from Verget too. From elsewhere in France, I got some cheap and cheerful Alsace Gewurztraminer, plus some Pinot Gris. Sancerre is so overpriced these days but I couldn't resist a few bottles of Gitton 2008. We'll see whether it's worth it. A few bottles of Beaujolais, some of Lurton Carmenère from Chile, a Jumilla from Spain and 3 bottles of my favourite Chianti from Fonterutoli. The latter is probably the wine I'm looking forward to trying most. I managed to resist the Yellowtail Oz reds - prefer my red wine without a hefty dose of residual sugar.

Overall, the selection in Carrefour is good, even in provincial Narbonne, but the prices weren't amazing. I was there with my shopping head on so bought anyway and came away happy with the selection but not feeling that I'd nabbed some real bargains.

A gripe or two about Carrefour. There is noone around to ask about anything. No wines available for tasting (at a wine promotion - perish the thought!)And no empty cartons to put in loose bottles of wine. Apparently they dismantle them and throw them away immediately. So I had to drive home with them rolling around in the back of the car.

Oh I did buy a few bottles of Languedoc wine. Just couldn't resist it. Some very cheap Jean Jean Picpoul for the masses, La Chapelle de Bebian from the famous Prieuré de Bebian near Pezenas and a promising Corbières from Ch Ollieux Romanis.