Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Stolen grapes make the Press

The recent theft of 30 tonnes of Cabernet grapes from a vineyard near Villeneuve de Beziers has certainly made the headlines.

A quick Google search finds the story reported internationally, from, amongst others, the BBC,
British broadsheets the Telegraph and Guardian as well as ABC news in Australia and NZ radio. More obscure websites that have picked up on the story include theirishemigrant.com silobreaker.com and the spooky Forteantimes. (I'll spare you the links to these sites).

Apart from the opportunity to churn out bad puns (grape escape etc), the reason for this frenzy of press attention is that it is such a rare occurrence. It is so specialised. I have never heard of it before and in terms of risk/reward it is not the most lucrative crime.

It isn't easy to discreetly harvest grapes - even with a harvesting machine it would take at least a couple of hours and machines are not the quietest of beasts. The absolute maximum price for Cabernet Sauvignon at the moment is 60€ a hectolitre. 30 tonnes would yield say 210 hectolitres giving a maximum gain of 12,600€. Alot of money for the poor vineyard owner, Roland Cavaillé. But not a fortune considering the risk involved. Take off the cost of harvesting and vinifying. And who do you sell the grapes to after such a publicised crime?

So is this some sort of professional grape mafia at work? Theft to order for a negociant? Revenge from vindictive neighbours? An opportunity to make a fast buck for dispossessed grape farmers? Who knows? Well somebody does but it is doubtful that the crime will be solved. Lets hope it's a one-off.

By the way, in case any amateur sleuths out there are looking for clues, the harvester in the photo is NOT the one used in the heist. Library photo.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Meteoric Faugères

The distinctive circular 'hole', pictured above, is 220m in diameter and is likely (but not proven) to be the crater formed by a meteor which fell to earth some 10,000 years ago. It also inspired the name for Domaine du Météore, a small family domaine near Cabrerolles in Faugères. The domaine has been in the Genevièves Libes' family for several generations and has 23 hectares of vines in Faugères and St Chinian.

I have come across Dom de Mètèore's wines a few times over the last five years but only recently visited the domaine and tasted the whole range. Genevièves Libes took me through the wines with enthusiasm and she evidently has great pride in her wines. And justly so. I have to say that I was impressed. The wines are consistently good quality: well-balanced, not overextracted, lovely fruit flavours.Wines to enjoy drinking but not not necessarily show stoppers or medal winners.

Worth seeking out and good value for money.

I particularly liked their Faugères Blanc, Les Léonides, 2009. This is an unoaked blend of Marsanne and Roussanne, which has delicate peach and herb aromas and flavours. Crisp nutty finish. I bought a case of this to drink over the summer and it disappeared very quickly! 6,50€

Their standard Faugeres Rouge is Les Léonides (5,70€) and is medium bodied with soft black fruit flavours. Slightly vegetal on the nose. Easy drinking. It is worth paying a couple of euros more for their St Chinian which comes from vines near St Nazaire de Ladarez which are also on schistous soils. Very expressive nose with exuberant red and black fruit. Attractive fruit palate with a intriguing minerally character.

There are three further cuvées of Faugères, each named after a different constellation and with different degrees of oakiness. Les Orionides spends 12 months in oak and is satisfyingly rich and spicy albeit slightly dominated by oak. Good but I couldn't get that excited about it. My favourite of the 3 oaked wines was Les Perséides. 60% Syrah, 40% Mourvèdre. 18 months in oak but it has excellent concentration of plum and blackcurrant fruit to support it. Supple tannins and an elegant backbone of minerality. 11.90€ but worth it.

Top of the range is Les Lyrides, almost pure Syrah which spends nearly 2 years in barrel. The 2007 is still very young and dominated by oak. But there is excellent concentration there and a hints of mineral and spice on the nose and palate which will reveal themselves further over time. Keep 3 years at least. 19€

See Rosemary George's notes on Faugères from last year's fete.