New beginings

How important are new beginnings.

I am told that in order for something real and important to happen there should always be a breaking point. This one moment when you realize something has really changed and that nothing will ever be the same again. I honestly think this is just a whole load of crap.

Nevertheless, in order to satisfy my loyal audience I will ignore my previous statement and start the new beginning of this write ups with something big.

I was waiting for this email to come for quite a while. I’ve been quiet yet hopeful. Finally on a dull Friday afternoon, on my way to another busy Friday night, it arrived. I was kindly ask if I could help with some technicalities and participate in a tasting with no less than my (and I’m pretty sure that everyone else’s) wine guru.

I was given the task (small yet vital) to put in order and organize an intriguing tasting consisting of 60 red white rose and sweet wine from the most Spanish region of France – Roussillon.

Setting up the wines will be the part that I will not share as I don’t wish to reveal my professional secrets.

We will go straight to the wines, shall we?

Les Blancs-

These were the most diverse and seemed to represent the mood of this colour in Roussillon. Diversity being a positive and attractive quality but can it also point out a lack of style?

More than anything else it felt there is some lack of self identity here. Don’t get me wrong, some of the wines showed beautifully.

The like of Ch Cap de Fouste, Sant Galdric Muscat Sec 2008 that showed just how a simple Muscat can be so much fun. grapey wit a touch of sweetness and enough acidity to balance.

Some other unpretentious whites included the Vignerons des Côtes d’Agly Sauvignon/Vermentino 2008 an unusual blend where the sauvignon plays second best and only compliments aromatic notes to a ripe stone fruit and mineral backbone.

Still, among all the white varieties (isn’t cepage a much more attractive term?) there was one that stood out from the others; The one that felt most at home. Grenache Blanc effortlessly beat all the others. The wines felt right, different and representing this Mediterranean edge.

Cave de l’Abbé Rous, In Fine 2008, was smoky rich and complex. Despite the hint of oak ageing the wine managed to keep depth of fruit and fantastic complexity of flavours. The most authentic with an almost Catalunian scented feel to it. A big boy with graceful moves that is not ashamed of his size.

Les Rouges –

The reds were quite different; stylish and full, they were expressing some Mediterranean passion. Rich and spicy they were not ashamed to show their origins to the whole wide world. Most of the wines were good descent drinks yet as always a few stood apart.

Dom Rossignol, Bérénice 2005 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Les – This showed quite a lot of animal notes here with a very pronounced black fruit component. Not as big on the palate. Somehow, more elegant and restrained. It did benefit from the savoury element yet the fruit was much more present. There was good freshness and even a minty herbal note. Almost Rhone in style.

Another one to impress and maybe to point out the qualities for ageing was the Domaine de Vénus 2004 Côtes du Roussillon- This showed some enjoyable mature red fruit complimented by some savoury spices. The palate was concentrated and fruity. Some of it dried and mature in character yet a hint of freshness was also coming through. Good spices the like ofliquorice, leather & coffee which worked very well with the almost sweet edge that the fruit had. Slightly warm finish. A big Mediterranean chap here, yet polite and open minded.

Some of the wines did take this big and beautiful approach a bit further, which made some of the wines taste like any grape anywhere style. The majority did keep it simple. My experience tells me that less and less drinkers are interested in superstrong giants and much more appreciate charm and elegance.

My general feelings were that red wine making felt much more natural to the producers that we’ve sampled. As I’ve mentioned, the reds showed character and tipicity without the need of proving too much. A slightly more careful tannin and extraction management could result in wines that might shine some elegance behind the familiar thick Mediterranean fruit.

Whitewise again the focus on local varieties and a spicier slightly richer style will draw more attention to the wines. The old formula of cold fermentation crisp and fresh wines just doesn’t give exciting results in this part of France, they have much more to offer.

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