The arrival of the latest Jurançon vintages from Domaine de Montesquiou is always one of the highlights of my year, so when they finally arrived at the bonded warehouse last week, I was eager to get my hands on a bottle of each, to taste and enjoy over the weekend. And enjoy them I did! Here are my notes;
100% Petit Manseng, aged for 11 months in oak barrels. A vivid 24 carat gold colour with orange glints. The nose has complex aromas of honey and woodsmoke, with hints of toasted brioche, cinnamon, clove and a touch of oak vanillin. And that is before I even mention the fruits! As ever, this wine is complex in the extreme, with notes of apricot, apple, mango, orange and lime oil. And the palate sure matches the nose, with all of the above coming into play, along with subtle spice and toffee notes. It has a beautifully rich, oily texture in the mouth, and the flavours coat the palate and linger for an age. And then, of course, there is that wonderful, searing lemon and lime acidity and minerality, the like of which (in my opinion) is unrivalled by any other sweet wine style in the world, and balances the richness so perfectly - a more finely poised sweet wine is hard to imagine. Although the grapes for this wine are not harvested until deep into November (and occasionally December) botrytis is not necessarily a classic Jurançon trait, since the region is only occasionally visited by the autumn mists necessary for the growth of this particularly (sweet wine-friendly) fungus. And yet this particular vintage displays many of the hallmarks of a somewhat botrytised harvest, with its intense honey and apricot notes. When I first opened a bottle, I considered it to be almost as good as the outstanding 2004 and 2007 vintages. But now, a full 6 days after opening, it is so spectacularly good that I have no doubt whatsoever that it is the finest vintage I have tasted - it is utterly, utterly brilliant! £16.99.
Hot on the heels of the Jurançon pallet came 2 pallets of wines, from no less than 4 different Languedoc growers (or 6, if you include some lovely Corbieres and another delicious Faugères find from the negociant arm of my friend Brigitte Chevalier's stable of wines). These arrived on Monday, so I hot-footed it up to Rotherham on Tuesday, to collect some stocks. There was already 6 inches of snow in Rotherham by then, and I returned home to find just as much had been dumped where I live, to add to the inch or two we'd had over the weekend. I'm now busy tasting through some of these wines and preparing the notes for my website, so will be posting them here, in the coming days. Frankly, there's not a lot else to do, whilst we are well and truly snowbound! Here's a couple of delicious new reds for starters;
55% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan, aged in vat. Medium raspberry/purple colour. The aromas are beautifully fresh and vibrant, suggesting bramble, blackcurrant, plum and orange, with background notes of cinnamon and oregano. The palate is similarly fresh and juicy, crammed full of fresh and crystallised bramble fruits, a touch of black cherry, creamy vanilla and a delightfully fresh, orangey acidity. The tannins are beautifully soft and velvety and there is just a hint of spiciness to the finish. This is a really nice wine, and a fine introduction to the wines of the Faugères appellation. It isn't serious, but it is seriously soft, refreshing, food-friendly and very more-ish! £8.95.
70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. A bright, medium-deep ruby red colour, with an expressive nose of plum skin, cherry and raspberry, a hint of tar and woodsmoke, and pronounced herby aromas (notably thyme and rosemary). The palate is beautifully fresh and fruity, with bags of red and black fruit flavours, soft spices and herbs, supple tannins and a refreshing streak of orange-tinged acidity. From one of the best growers in Corbières, this really is an attractive, elegant wine, which is lovely to drink now - but there's no hurry. £9.75.