Sunday, 7 February 2010

Plans taking shape for Vinisud, plus a couple of cracking Rhone wines

Plans are slowly taking shape for my trip to Vinisud in a couple of weeks' time. My friend Bernard and I will be landing in Toulouse Fairly early on the Sunday morning, which leaves us virtually the whole day to do more or less what we want, before the actual event begins on the Monday. So I've arranged for us to join up with my wine-writer friend Peter Gorley at his home in Assignan (near Saint-Chinian), before heading off for lunch at a restaurant in nearby Berlou. From there, we will head for Béziers, for a tasting event entitled "Melting Potes 2", which will have some very interesting growers (including a brilliant Champagne grower Bernard discovered recently). From there, it will be a quick visit to Marseillan, to check into our hotel, before heading to Montpellier for the evening, for the lauch party of a new organisation called Vinifilles. As the name suggests, Vinifilles is an association of lady winemakers from Languedoc and Roussillon. A couple of my growers (Laeticia Pietri of Domaine Pietri-Geraud and Veronique Etienne of Chateau La Dournie) will be there, but it will also be nice to discover wines from some of the other growers. Monday and Tuesday will be pretty much all Vinisud, and Monday night will include a soirée with Jon and Rachel Hesford of Domaine Treloar, at an apartment they have rented for the duration in Montpellier. So, a very busy schedule, but I can't wait!

Meanwhile, I've just about loaded all the new wines onto my website, with just a couple of grower profiles to work on. Here's a couple of tasting notes on those northern Rhone reds I mentioned in my previous post;

Noel Verset Cornas 2004
100% Syrah. This has a semi-transluscent crimson red core, fading gently to a pink rim with amber glints. The nose is so evocative and elegant already, with classic smoked bacon and lily aromas mingled with fresh summer fruits, spices, leather and parma violets. The palate is also truly elegant, with none of the tannic rusticity one might expect from a relatively young Cornas. It is full of ripe blackcurrant, raspberry and cherry flavours, with savoury and floral nuances, fine tannins and a simply mouth-watering backbone of acidity. In fact, one could almost be in Hermitage with this one. Knowing Noel Verset's reputation for making traditional Cornas that needs fairly lengthy ageing to show its best, this is a remarkably accessible wine and really delicious to drink right now, although there is still plenty of scope for development with further ageing over the next 5 years or more.

Noel Verset produced his first vintage in 1943 and finally retired after the 2006 vintage, at the ripe old age of 87. Which is a shame, because his wines were always of top quality and always true to the Cornas appellation and I would have loved to think I could have featured more of his vintages (the 2005 and 2006 allocations sold out before I could get any). But all good things must come to an end. And fortunately, Noel's famous old vines are now in the capable hands of Alain Verset and Thierry Allemand

Gilles Barge Cuvée du Plessy 2006 Côte-Rôtie
95% Syrah and 5% Viognier. Dark purple core, semi-opaque, with a narrow crimson rim. When first opened, it is quite reticent on the nose, but begins to open up with exposure to the air, with notes of bramble, blackcurrant and perhaps raspberry and orange peel, mingled with cinnamon and clove, cedar, leather and tobacco. With a little coaxing, those classic Côte-Rôtie notes of lilies and smoke begin to peep through. The palate also opens up nicely after a while and, whilst the tannins are still a little young, they are ripe and spicy and there is a wonderful core of red and black fruits and spice just waiting to burst through. This isn't one of those rich, modern wines that promise much without actually delivering - this is traditional Côte-Rôtie, which demands contemplation. Tightly structured, pure and focused, with great balance and mouth-watering acidity, it has all of the ingredients necessary to evolve into a real beauty of a wine. Indeed, the remains of my bottle were still going strong a full two days after opening, and had really opened out. Whilst this wine can be drunk now with pleasure, it is only just beginning to hint at its potential and I think it is going to be an absolute classic. Wonderful stuff.

1 comment:

Graham said...

Reading the Vinifilles list then I would check out Reserve d'O, Ollier Taillefer and La Grange de Quatre Sous. Jasse Castel is good but a bit pricey these days.
Mind you, there are plenty of growers I haven't heard of.