Friday, 1 October 2010

A rather disappointing Languedoc wine

Having drunk nothing but fine Mosel Riesling over the last few days (how could we not, when it is so abundant and so relatively cheap where we've been?) I thought it was time to open a bottle of red to enjoy with yesterday evening's spaghetti bolognaise. I have half a case each of the 2004 and 2005 vintages of this wine, and this one had been winking at me from the under-stairs cupboard for some time, so I thought it would make a nice (though not cheap, at around £15) weekday treat. Having enjoyed a bottle or two of each wine over the last couple of years, I expected this to be rather good.

Domaine de Montcalmes 2004 Coteaux du Languedoc
60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, aged in one and two year-old barrels for 24 months. The first thing that hits you on the nose is the oak - vanillin and wood, with a noticeable element of beef stock, but not a lot in the way of fruit. Which is surprising, since my previous experience of this wine had left me with a strong impression of red, black and crystallised fruits and an almost northern Rhone - or even Burgundian - elegance. The palate is also dominated by oak. Not toasty and rich, but somewhat austere and even raw, as if the oak has been under-seasoned and under-toasted and is beginning to eat the fruit (rather than the other way around). The style of this wine clearly aims to be relatively light-bodied, rather than hugely extracted and rich, but it currently seems to lack the elegance and depth of fruit that it once showed. It felt raw and harsh to begin with (even to the point where I thought it might be a faulty/corked bottle) but I thought some air would help to open it out a bit. Half an hour later, though, and the fruit is still not really there - subtle hints of raspberry and redcurrant, perhaps, but with a bitterness that suggests that 24 months in relatively new barrels has stripped some of the vitality and fruit from it. Perhaps it is going through a "closed" phase. I hope so, as I have several more to get through. We shall see.

Tonight we are dining out in Nottingham with a few close friends and some (hopefully) fine wines from the 80's and early 90's, by way of celebrating our Silver Wedding. I'll report back soonwith my thoughts on the wines.

After that, I have loads to report on our trip to Germany. Not an awful lot in the way of thoughts on individual wines (it was a holiday, rather than a tasting trip, after all) but lots of photos and plenty of commentary.


Graham said...

I went to a vertical of Moncalmes last year but my notes are in another country. I do recall some vintage variation (which is fine of course) and the 2004 may have been a bit leaner/less fruity as befits the year.
I've tasted the 2007 a couple of times this year and it is nicely balanced and delicious BUT it retails around here at €26. There are plenty of €10 to €14 bottles that are just as complex and enjoyable.
That said, hopefully it's just bottle variation that got you. Either way, enjoy your stocks as you probably won't be replacing them with current vintages unless you play and win the lotto :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts. Bottle variation example perhaps?


Leon Stolarski said...

Graham - I bought my bottles a year or two back, at around the £15 mark, which is reasonable value. I see Les Caves de Pyrene are now the UK agents, which has inevitably led to a big hike in price. I'm not sure of the exact price, but I do know that (as you suggest) it has placed Montcalmes very firmly in the expensive bracket. I doubt that I will be buying any more.

On the subject of the 2004 I opened the other night, the bottle was still half-full by the next day, so I had another taste. Not much difference, and the oak was still obvious. But on day 3 (i.e. last night) something was beginning to happen. Some elegant fruit and floral aromas beginning to emerge, with the oak softening and allowing some nice redcurrant and cherry flavours to come through. I still think it is over-oaked, and that slight bitterness may never quite go away, but perhaps it is also in a difficult phase, from which it could emerge in a few years' time.

Bob - nice to see you are still reading and contributing. And I hope that you get to taste those Treloar wines soon. ;-)

Vinogirl said...

Hate too much oak!