Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Some rather nice reds from the last week

Despite the fact that winter is nearly over (OK, so we may have a little more snow on the way, but the nice weather will soon be back!) I'm still in the mood for hearty red wines. And this quartet have served very nicely, thank you.........

Les Vins de Vienne Sotanum MMIII Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes
Although the vineyards fall outside of the designated area for the appellation, this is to all intents and purposes a Cote Rotie - and, given the vintage, a rather good one. The nose is really quite intense, though not in a soupy way, and despite the fact that it has been given the "full treatment" (long extraction, some classy oak, heavy bottle, deep punt) it doesn't overwhelm. Darker aromas of black cherry, bramble and olive tapenade are offset by notes of raspberry, citrus and a hint of violet. A core of rich, almost sweet fruit on the palate might seem a touch too much, were it not for that raspberry and a delicious streak of citrus acidity, which may or may not have been adjusted in the winemaking process - though if it has, it has been very skilfully done. And although the tannins are quite prominent, they are remarkably supple, and I get the feeling that everything will integrate nicely with a few more years in bottle. Which is a feeling that gets stronger after 2 or 3 of days, for although the wine is beginning to oxidise a little, it is actually more impressive and enjoyable than when first opened (for our monthly get-together at Le Mistral in Nottingham). I wouldn't quite say it is elegant - yet - but it may become so eventually, which would be no mean feat for a 2003, and if Parker likes it (I don't actually know) then it would be purely coincidental. Whatever, I like it a lot and will look forward to trying my last bottle in another 5 years or so. I also have a couple of 2001's left, too! I can't remember exactly what I paid for this at auction, but probably around the £15-£17 mark, which is pretty good value.

J M Alquier Reserve Les Bastides 2004 Faugères
I've enjoyed a few older vintages of this wine before (notably 1995 and 1997) but don't recall drinking one this "young". I wasn't sure what to think at first - very savoury, meaty and tobacco-scented, with the fruit lurking in the background - but it opened out rather spectacularly with air, with waves of spiced bramble and raspberry, subtle notes of redcurrant and kirsch, spiced fruitcake and garrigue herbs. And all of those components come together beautifully in the mouth, making for a wine of considerable complexity - full of restrained power, yet possessed of real balance and elegance. And I keep going back to that nose, which continues to develop and change over the space of a couple of hours, with notes of tobacco and forest floor, incense and herbs, not to mention layer upon layer of complex fruit aromas and flavours. It really is a breathtakingly beautiful and complete wine, which can only get better and better...... and better. J M Alquier isn't exactly an "under the radar" grower as far as Languedoc aficionados are concerned, but even the best Languedoc wines are generally under-appreciated and relatively unknown to the wider wine-buying public. Which is why you can still buy world-class wines like this for under £20. And since I bought mine for about £10 per bottle (again, at auction), I think I got myself a pretty decent bargain - and I'm glad I still have another 3 bottles tucked away for the future. Benchmark Faugères - in fact, one of the Languedoc greats.

Quinta do Poco do Lobo 1991 Bairrada (£12.95)
I do love old wines - especially when they are cheap! Of course, there's no point in ageing wine for too long, if it doesn't have the stuffing, but this one is right on the money at 21 years of age. I've blogged about this wine before, so I won't bore you with too much detail..... Suffice to say that it is a tobacco, spice, herb and fruit-scented bundle of loveliness, with a fabulous core tangy red fruits, ground pepper, spicy/grippy tannins and mouth-watering acidity. The first half went beautifully with spaghetti in a sauce comprising lashings of olive oil, sweet white wine, creme fraiche, sweet garlic, chilli, red capsicum and oregano that I threw together last night (along with copious amounts of home-made wholemeal sourdough bread). The remainder should pair equally well with pork chop and chips tonight..........

Les Vignes de l'Arque IGP Duché d'Uzs Rouge 2009 (£9.95)
This one isn't exactly expensive either, but hardly anybody buys it, so I thought I'd open a bottle to see how it is coming along. Well two bottles, actually, as the first one was corked to buggery - these things happen, unfortunately. Thankfully, the second bottle was in perfect condition (one does get paranoid about these things, especially when one is selling the damn stuff!). A 50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache, with the benefit of a few months' ageing in oak barrels, it simply reeks of super-ripe grapes, black cherries, black olives, garrigue herbs, toasted brioche and a touch of eau de vie, whilst the palate is an absolute riot of deep, dark, sweet and sour red and black fruits, with great concentration and just enough acidity to keep it all nicely together. A mini-Chateauneuf, which is beginning to open out nicely, though I suspect it is a few years short of its peak.

Next up, Vinisud Part 2, with details of a couple of fine Provence growers..........


AlanM said...

Love Alquier wines Leon, good bargain. Which auctions do you use?

Leon Stolarski said...

Mostly Straker Chadwick, Alan .But the bargains are very much harder to come by these days. :-(