Thursday, 9 February 2012

A wonderful aged Languedoc Syrah, an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum, and a delicious white from Southern Burgundy

Here are 3 wines worthy of note, consumed over the last week. I've been meaning to write them up for a couple of days now, but as always, other things seem to get in the way.....

Chateau La Dournie Elise 2000 Saint-Chinian
80% Syrah, 20% Grenache. Part of the wine is aged for 10 months in new oak barrels, whilst the remainder is aged in vat. This has all of the hallmarks of absolutely top-notch Saint-Chinian. It offers complex aromas which range from floral to savoury/herby/meaty to mineral and all points in-between. There's a strong hint of black olives, a whiff of smokey bacon and even a suggestion of lilies and violets. There's something very Northern Rhone about it, and indeed when I put this bottle around at a Nottingham Wine Circle blind tasting last week (and even given my propensity to offer wines from Languedoc) nobody guessed Languedoc - in fact, most were convinced it was a Cote Rotie or a particlarly elegant Cornas. It has a wonderful core of raspberry and blackcurrant fruit - at almost 12 years old, still absolutely fresh and vibrant - along with a rather fabulous array of secondary aromas and flavours, a subtle herbiness and an intense core of stoney minerality. I've often opined that Saint-Chinian is capable of producing some of the most distinctive wines in the whole of Languedoc, especially when grown on schistous "soil" (which La Dournie is). And this is a simply exquisite wine, which (despite the Grenache element!) bears comparison to many more exalted Northern Rhone wines.

Domaine d'Estoublon Blanc 2007 Vin de Pays des Alpilles
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne. This wine (and I don't just mean this particular bottle or vintage) is the epitome of an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum! I recently published a tasting note for the 2008, in which the wine seemed tired and oxidative to begin with, before blossoming into something much better over the next few days. This 2007, on the other hand, was much cleaner and fresher when I first opened it - which, as I write, was around a week ago. But despite that freshness, it just seemed to lack the excitement and complexity I was expecting, so I bunged the half-consumed bottle in the fridge and forgot about it. Until a couple of nights ago, that is, when I poured myself a glass and was struck by how much it had changed and evolved - for the better, thankfully. It now has wonderful aromas of spring flowers and honeysuckle, peaches and orange marmalade, garrigue herbs and exotic spices. The texture is slightly oily, rich and mouth-filling, with flavours of quince, apricot and bitter orange peel, again quite spicy/licoricey and full of southern warmth. The acidity isn't high, but it is adequate, and there is plenty of minerality and an almost tannic grip to it that keeps everything nicely together. I'm just amazed by the chameleon-like qualities of this cuvée (both the 2007 and 2008) but it only serves to strengthen my view that it is a wine that will go through various phases before really blossoming into something quite different (though hopefully very pleasing and quirky) in a few years' time. 13.7% abv. £22.99.

Domaine Laborbe-Juillot Les Saint-Jacques 2006 Rully
For some reason, TLD isn't a big fan of the Estoublon white(!) so to placate her, I opened this wine (we were having some home-made chicken liver parfait and salad, so a white wine was called for). It comes from the relatively humble Caves de Buxy co-operative in southern Burgundy, so has no great pretensions to complexity or seriousness. But it does everything I want a young, inexpensive white Burgundy to do - plenty of Chardonnay typicity, minerality by the bucketload, a decent structure and gorgeous acidity. It is ripe, but not fat, with delicious lemon meringue, peach and ripe bramley apple flavours, mouth-watering acidity and a distinct mineral streak. It is a really lovely, refreshing and very food-friendly wine, which can be had from the cellar door for not very much money (if I remember correctly, about 7 or 8 Euros).

Next up, some fine Burgundies.........


Anonymous said...

Both my 07 and 08 D'Estoublon whites were rock and roll from the get go. Do you reckon I should get Luke to open up the 07 for Wimps the day before?

Leon Stolarski said...

Well, Anonymous, assuming you are who I think you are, and if you are sending your wine(s) ahead by courier from Belfast, then I think it would be a good idea to do a double-decant the day before. ;-)

Vinogirl said...

The Rully sounds delightful, but then most anything sounds better than a Californian Chardonnay!!!