Monday, 14 December 2009

Some more new wines

Although I have developed a horrible cold (and an even worse tickly, chesty cough) over the last couple of days, it is only now that my ability to taste and assess wines has started to become affected. Which is just as well, because I've had a few to get through. I hate seeing the words "tasting note to follow" next to any wine on my website, because I pride myself on having personally tasted and enjoyed and drank every single wine I sell - and how many wine merchants can truly say that? Anyway, I have a handful more to get through before too long, but I guess they'll have to wait for a few days - after all, who feels like drinking when they have a cold? Meanwhile though, here's a few I've drank - and thoroughly enjoyed - over the last 4 days.

I tasted this in winemaker Guy Vanlancker's cellar back in July, but I'd forgotten just how lovely it was. It is very unusual to find a varietal (i.e. 100%) Cinsault, since it is usually considered to be more suitable as a blending component in red (and more often rosé) wines from Languedoc and the southern Rhône. But this one is certainly a worthy example of its kind. The nose is an uncomplicated riot of brambly fruit, with some spicy, herby notes lurking in the background. And the palate is also packed with bramble and cherry fruit, making for a ripe, generous and very juicy mouthful. Relatively soft tannins and mouth-watering acidity, combined with a dollop of southern warmth and spice, all adds up to a lovely drop - which really hits the spot on a cold winter's evening! 13.5% abv.

Made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre,  this one offers aromas of the warm south - spiced red and black fruits, polished wood, undergrowth, garrigue herbs and a hint of garam masala. Give it a good swirl and you might even detect a hint of ripe peaches - for a "jeunes vignes" (from young vines) there is surprising complexity. The palate is rich and concentrated, with a huge core of ripe fruit, but never blowsy or overpowering. There is a cherry skin element to it, which gives it lift, with a decent level of acidity and fine tannins adding grip and definition. As with all the Estoublon reds, it manages to combine rich, ripe flavours with juicy/tangy acidity and spicy warmth, without ever suggesting heat. If I were tasting this blind, I might think I was drinking an unusually subtle (and really very good) Gigondas. Another lovely wine. 13.6% abv.

80% Syrah, 20% Grenache. Fresh plums, bramble and black cherries abound, along hallmark Saint-Chinian terroir - garrigue herbs, violets, black olives and a strong mineral influence from the schistous soils on which it is grown. Hints of tobacco, leather and brioche add even more interest. The palate is concentrated and balanced, with rich, spicy (but not too sweet) bramble and cherry fruit wrapped in a blanket of fine, silky tannins and mouth-watering acidity and a long, spicy finish. Those ultra-fine tannins make for a wine that is already a joy to drink, but this is another beautifully structured wine from Chateau La Dournie, with a great future. A conservative estimate would be 5 to 8 years before maturity and a 10 to 15 year life span.

Domaine d'Estoublon Blanc 2007 Vin de Pays des Alpilles
The colour is a bright yellow gold. The nose is uber complex - notes of quince, apricot, primrose, spices (fennel and clove spring to mind), with subtle hints of lemon, honey and clarified butter. The oak-ageing is subtle, too, with just a touch of vanillin. And the palate is as fresh as a daisy, with flavours of apricot and peach, quince and lemon zest. There is also honeyed, nutty richness that coats the mouth, whilst at the same time being beautifully dry and focused. Restrained power is the order of the day - the sort that manifests itself in a long, mouth-watering finish. In fact, this is a wine that seems effortlessly to combine richness of flavour with supreme elegance. Which marks it out as a great wine, in my book - and I have a cold! White Chateauneuf? White Hermitage? Even white Trévallon? This comes pretty close - it is an absolute star of a wine, from an undoubted future star estate of Provençal winemaking.

That's it for now - I feel like death warmed up, so I'm off to bed!

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