I've been selling this wine (by which I mean this very vintage) for around a year now, and you can find it on my website, along with a completely unrelated tasting note. But I thought I'd open a bottle and see how it is developing - purely for research purposes, mind! It is a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc, grown on the southern slopes of the Alpilles in deepest Provence. The nose is honeyed, though not buttery, with notes of super-ripe apples, candied peel, marmalade and a complex mix of spices and herbs. The palate has a slightly waxy texture, but is otherwise beautifully poised and fresh as a daisy. It is awash with flavour - "winey" rather than overtly fruity, that's for sure, but it has definite hints of apples laced with cloves and cinnamon and a marmaladey richness, offset by a core of stoney minerality and nervy acidity. Although it is very definitely Provencal/Southern Rhone in origin, this wine is free of the overt pithiness - and therefore bitterness - that I often find in white Chateauneuf, and consequently bears more than a little similarity to (say) a white Hermitage in structure........ or even a white Trévallon. I actually opened this bottle 4 days ago, and we drank most of it with home-made chicken liver parfait and sourdough bread, with a mixed salad and cherry tomatoes from my greenhouse - and it really was a delicious combination. But the last glass (drank this evening) is perhaps even better than the first. Which tells me that this wine can only get better - perhaps another 5 years or more? £22.99.
Domaine Sol-Payré Vertigo 2009 Cotes du Roussillon
Continuing the vaguely Southern Rhone theme, this is a wine very firmly rooted in Roussillon - but with more than a nod towards the red Chateauneuf style. It is a new cuvée - a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, with perhaps just a touch of oak-ageing, but not too much - older oak, for definite, because in this wine, the fruit definitely wins the day. In fact, when I first opened the bottle (last night) it had just a bit too much Grenache intensity and rusticity for my personal taste - rich, full of grape skin and bramble fruit and a tarry quality which slightly overwhelmed. But what a difference a day makes, for it has blossomed into a wine of real elegance......... the nose offers aromas of mixed red/black fruits and garrigue herbs, polished wood, forest floor and subtle notes of eau de vie, whilst the palate is almost unrecognisable - expansive fruit flavours, silky mouthfeel, great balance and a fair amount of complexity. And (despite the 14.5% abv shown on the label) no sense of heat - just a lovely southern, spicy warmth. It provided a very decent match for tonight's Spaghetti alla Carbonara. I like it a lot and will no doubt grab a few cases when I next import form Sol-Payré, later in the year - projected price around £14.