Tuesday, 21 August 2012

I'm back!

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Actually, there have been no such reports, but it has certainly been deathly quiet on this blog for far too long (nearly 5 weeks!). So what have I been up to that has been so important to prevent me communicating over the blogosphere for so long? Well, there was another trip to France (to visit my relatives in the north), organising more new wine imports, an insurance claim for damage to my motorcycle (no, I wasn't riding it at the time), stuff to do around the house and garden, not to mention being glued to the telly and/or computer watching Bradley Wiggins' epic Tour de France victory and those glorious 2 weeks of the London 2012 Olympics.

There are bloggers out there (including some in the wine world) who feel compelled to blog every single day, but I'm not one of them. I do it because I enjoy it - and clearly, some of my readers do too, given that I have had literally several(!) people telling me to get blogging again. But I see no point in blogging for the sake of it - even if I do have plenty to say! Sometimes, real life (and, occasionally, downright laziness) takes precedence. But now I am back, feeling (relatively) refreshed and ready to go. Who knows, I might even post several times within the next few days. Here's one I prepared earlier..........

I have been rather unkind about the wines of Domaine Matassa in the past. In fact, to say I've been forthright in my condemnation is a bit of an understatement. I wanted to like them, but couldn't find it within myself to do so. But I take each wine as it comes and try to judge on merit, rather than reputation, so it was nice to be able to say some good things (though with a caveat) about this one, which cropped up in a recent blind tasting at the Nottingham Wine Circle.

Matassa 2004 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes
Still a nice youthful dark ruby colour, perhaps showing a touch of age at the rim. High-toned on the nose, perhaps even bordering on volatile acidity (which I like), with some very enticing aromas of redcurrant and cranberry and perhaps a touch of overripe bramble, with background notes of polished wood and leather, forest floor and a gentle meatiness. In the mouth, that slightly volatile acidity comes to the fore, in an almost unnatural (perhaps "enhanced") way - although, once again, it appeals to me, because I like plenty of acidity in my wine. My only slight concern is that the balance may (or may not) not be quite right. The tannins are beginning to resolve nicely, and there's a nice kernel of red and black fruit flavours, with a touch of garrigue herbiness. But a wine lives on it's acidity - and this wine has more than enough of thatm so the only question is, can it last? I guess only time will tell, and although I can see it ageing (and perhaps even improving) for a few years yet, I would be loath to keep it for too much longer. If you have some (I don't), then I would suggest you enjoy it now, whilst it still has a touch of sweet fruit to balance that acidity.

As fate/coincidence often has it in a blind (and, as usual at Nottingham Wine Circle, totally "un-organised") tasting, the Matassa was immediately followed by another wine from Languedoc, and built in a very similar fashion..........

Domaine Leon Barral Jadis 2005 Faugères
This is a really dark, brooding colour, again showing just a touch of maturity on the (tiny) rim. The nose is very complex, exhibiting notes of bramble, plum and blackcurrant, some rather classy oak, leather, meat, rotting leaves and a waft of eau de vie. Subtle hints of smoky bacon, herbs, wet stone and white flowers are indicative of Syrah and Carignan (plus I believe some Grenache) grown on schiste soil. It comes across as very fresh and vibrant, and again quite high-toned, especially on the palate, which possesses a rich, fruity, spicy and considerably tannic structure, but (as with the Matassa) an almost spine-tingling level of acidity. Again, whether this is all natural or enhanced is open to question. Whatever it is, it certainly makes the mouth water! And this is a mightily impressive wine, which (assuming those tannins soften a little and the acidity doesn't get too out of control) should age very nicely for another 5 to 8 years.

Finally, here's my note on the last of our samples from Domaine d'Archimbaud - not in stock, yet, but perhaps nearer to the end of the year...........

Domaine d'Archimbaud La Robe du Pourpre 2009 Languedoc Saint-Saturnin
I asked TLD the other night which bottle she would prefer - the £15 bottle (actually an absolute steal for the undoubtedly brilliant Vina Ardanza 2001 Rioja Reserva Especial) or the free bottle (i.e this one). Ultimately, I made the decision myself and, as TLD quite rightly stated, "Archimbaud have never made a bad wine". And this one is a classic example of why we both hold them in such high regard. A gloriously heady mix of red and black fruits, truffles, garrigue herbs, mint, polished old wood and cool eau de vie. Oh, and did I mention the waft of flowers and a subtle whiff of meat? It really is such a wonderful perfume, as are the flavours, which really do deliver on the promise of the nose in a wine that encapsulates everything that I love about Languedoc wines in general, and this grower in particular. As is often the case, I am writing my note on this wine based on the dregs, having opened the bottle a couple of evenings ago, but no matter, for it remains fresh, full of fruit and complexity and perfectly balanced (even at a relatively young age) with fine, silky tannins and lip-smacking acidity.

More (much more) anon!


David Strange said...

No, not blogging every day; quality suffers. Moreover you have to get boozed up far too frequently to actually drink well and enjoy it.

Nice to see a post from you again, though;)

Leon Stolarski said...

Thanks David. The getting boozed-up bit is especially apt, when one has lots of new wines to taste and write-up (as I do at the moment)!

Graham said...

Had a glass of the Jardis 2009 the other week and I'll be seeking it out. Drinking very well now.

Not sure where this requirement to blog daily comes from - the blog bullies?

Leon Stolarski said...

Graham - a certain Mr Goode is one of those that swears by posting every day. I seem to recall him commenting somewhere or other that a blog is otherwise not really a blog. Plus, a few of my local buddies have been pestering me recently - they know who they are! ;-)

Having said that, 5 weeks is far too long. I shall certainly be making up for lost time, though!