Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Two more brilliant wines from Domaine de La Marfée

Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis (or, indeed, buy my wines) will know that I am a huge fan of the wines of Domaine de La Marfée. I have posted notes on all of the 2007 wines elsewhere on this blog, and also wrote quite a lengthy article about biodynamic viticulture and natural wines, which featured very heavily on the biodynamic (though thankfully not "natural") practices employed by La Marfée winemaker Thierry Hasard. So it goes without saying that when I was offered a few cases of Les Champs Murmurés 2000 and 2001 (one of Thierry's top cuvées) by a previous importer - and at a decent price - I jumped at the chance. I'd enjoyed a bottle of the 2000 a couple of years back, so I knew how good it was, but the 2001 was more of a shot in the dark - and a very successful one. These days, this cuvée is made from Syrah and Mourvedre, but these earlier vintages also included a proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon - hence the Vin de Pays denomination. Here are my notes, from a bottle of each vintage, enjoyed over last weekend (and now available to buy on my website);

Although now 10 years old, this wine still looks remarkably young, exhibiting a fairly deep purple/red colour, and showing only slight signs of age on the narrow, raspberry-coloured rim. This wine contains a proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (which the current wines do not) which means that it had to be labelled as a mere Vin de Pays. Nevertheless, as with the current crop of wines, the nose displays that trademark Marfée nose of crystallised red and black fruits, elderflower and blackcurrant leaf. There are also some savoury, earthy notes, mixed with exotic spices, old leather and cigar box. It really does have the whiff of a truly fine wine - in fact, the more you smell it, the more complex it gets. The palate is simply packed full of concentrated, ripe bramble and blackcurrant fruit, with some savoury, herby garrigue notes and grippy but fine, spicy tannins, offset by juicy acidity. The finish is dry, but laced with spicy, tangy, almost sweet and sour orange peel and black cherry flavours - and it is very long, too. The complexity of this wine is something to behold, and although it is lovely to drink now, I feel it has the stuffing (and the fruit) to age for at least another 5 years before it reaches its peak. It really is a fabulous wine, and does nothing to alter my opinion that Domaine de La Marfée is one of the Languedoc's finest estates - albeit still a very well-kept secret.

Like the 2000, this wine shows little sign of age, with the same dense, purple red core and narrow raspberry rim. And like the 2000, it displays that trademark Marfée nose of crystallised red and black fruits, elderflower and blackcurrant leaf, but this time with a hint of red meat, eau de vie and polished wood. If anything, it is even riper and more opulent, again with those beautifully savoury, earthy notes, exotic spice, old leather and cigar box, but with a pungency and sweetness of fruit typical of the classic (i.e. hot) 2001 vintage. It has a half degree more alcohol than the 2000, but the ripeness of the fruit and the spicy yet velvety tannins make it feel very balanced, despite a slightly lower level of acidity. The finish has a sweet and sour edge, with flavours of red cherry, raspberry and warming spice. Slightly more Chateauneuf in style than the full-on Languedoc style of the 2000, but a beautiful wine nevertheless. Oh, and the acidity actually get more pronounced with time in the glass, which only serves to heighten the experience. Another lovely wine, from a very (very) fine winemaker.

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