Monday, 17 August 2009

Tasting notes - three truly outstanding Jurançons

I've been a bit remiss recently, having not posted on the Blog for well over a week. For one thing, I have been trying to take life a bit easier, in an effort to finally rid myself of the horrible virus that has afflicted me for the best part of 6 weeks now - and I finally feel as if I am getting there.

I have also been busying myself with the enjoyable but laborious task of tasting my way through goodness-knows-how-many sample bottles, brought back from my recent trip to France. The enjoyment side of things goes without saying, of course (how could it not be) but the laborious bit also comes into play, because I have to try and be objective and analytical in writing extensive tasting notes and assessing these wines for possible inclusion in the Leon Stolarski Fine Wines list. Some of them (for whatever reason) get an immediate thumbs-down, some need thinking about a bit more and re-assessing next day, whilst others are ear-marked for definite inclusion. And it isn't an easy task. To a certain extent, I have to put aside my personal prejudices and my affinity with the growers and be realistic in assessing which wines I can recommend without hesitation - i.e. which offer a good quality/price ratio and - for the more expensive wines - whether they are truly worth the extra outlay. In other words, can I sell them with complete confidence, whatever the price?

And there are some really good wines amongst this current crop of samples, a good few of which I will be adding to the list over the next few months. But the latest vintages from my Jurançon grower Domaine de Montesquiou, which will be added to the list in the next month or so, stand out as possibly the most consistently brilliant wines I have ever tasted from one single grower's new batch of releases. And given that these three wines will be priced from around £9 to no more than £15, I am truly awe-struck by their quality!

Apologies for the quality of the photo, which - due to the fact that my camera batteries have been "borrowed" by one of my boys - was taken on my mobile phone (which has no flash) in my kitchen after dark. Nevertheless, aren't those labels (especially the two on the right) gorgeous?! More importantly, the contents of the bottles are truly outstanding - all three of them..........

Firstly, Domaine de Montesquiou La Rosée de Montesquiou 2008 Jurançon Sec has everything that the 2006 and 2007 had, but is even better. A riot of lemon, lime, apple and pineapple aromas and flavours, shot through with steely/slatey minerality. Some interesting herb and spice notes, too. Classic, mouth-watering Jurançon acidity carries all the way through to a long finish. This is complex, classy and truly delicious. A blend of 50% Gros Manseng, 10% Petit Manseng and 40% Courbu, it will retail at £9.50.

Secondly, Domaine de Montesquiou Cuvade Préciouse 2007 Jurançon Sec is somewhat different from the 2006, in that any oak influence is more restrained and integrated and makes for more of a creamy, honeyed quality than the tosty oak vanillin of the 2006. And I have to say that - much as I love the 2006 - this 2007 is all the more pure and representative of its appellation. None of that wonderfully intense, lemon and mineral Jurançon terrroir is hidden from view this time. In fact, it is almost like a bone dry version of the sweet Grappe d'Or (see below). It is hard to categorise, since great Jurancon offers one of the most distinctive and individual white wine styles, but if you are partial to a 1er Cru Burgundy or an Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, then you will almost certainly love this. And at a projected retail price of around £11.75, it will be one very special bargain.

And finally, Domaine de Montesquiou Grappe d'Or 2007 Jurançon. What can I say about this wine that I haven't said about previous vintages? The 2005 and 2006 were good, but this 2007 vintage is every bit as good as - perhaps even better than - the outstanding 2004. Pure gold in colour, this is made from 100% Petit Manseng, harvested in late November and early December, when the grapes are dehydrated and the flavours concentrated. And I think I even detect a hint of Botrytis in this one, which adds yet more complexity. There are rich, heady aromas including creme brulée, toffee apple, lime marmalade, root ginger and allspice. And the combination on the palate of the dense, sweet fruit and the almost shocking acidity makes for a wine of incredible contrast - almost ethereal and other-worldly. And although the concept of drinking the whole bottle on its own is almost irresistable, it is also a perfect match for foie gras and patés, all manner of cheeses and, of course, lemon or apple-based desserts. A Sussex Pond Pudding springs to mind. All I can say is wow - what a wine! And at around £14.95 a bottle, undoubtedly one of (if not the) world's great sweet wine bargains.

Several of my customers and wine-loving friends tell me that Domaine de Montesquiou is the best discovery I have ever made and the finest grower on my list. And, on this showing, who am I to argue? I hope to take delivery of these wines within the next 4 to 6 weeks and I expect them to be very popular amongst those in the know. If you would like to reserve some, please drop me an email at and I will make sure you get some as soon as they arrive in stock.


Bob Rossi said...

Wow, these Jurancons sound outstanding, Leon. What a find. If only they were available in the US. Jurancons here are few and far between. In fact, here in Maine I've only seen one Jurancon. The few I've had over the years have been excellent, but far pricier than the ones you're carrying.

Leon Stolarski said...

Domaine de Montesquiou's plantings consist of a mere 4 hectares, Bob, so there isn't much to go around. In fact, I'm risking letting other merchants in on my greatest secret, merely by writing about their wines! ;-)