The Outsiders are a group of "non-native" wine growers based in various corners of Languedoc and Roussillon, with origins as diverse as the UK, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the USA and other regions of France. Ten of these "Outsiders" gathered at La Maison de Languedoc-Roussillon in London a few weks ago, to showcase their latest wines to the trade and media, and what follows are my thoughts and tasting notes on some of my favourites.
It is always nice to meet the delightful Caryl Panman, and she was once again on hand to offer the latest releases from Rives-Blanques. And in my opinion, these are amongst some of the best wines I have tasted from the estate.
Blanquette de Limoux 2010
Mostly Mauzac, with a small amount of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. A fruity, grapey nose, with hints of sweet apples and oranges. The palate is clean and super-fresh, very slightly off-dry, with bags of fruit. Love it.
Vintage Rose 2009 Crémant de Limoux
Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. A riot of red cherry, raspberry and strawberry aromas. Rich, ripe and opulent, again with just the merest hint of residual sugar. Long, mellow and lovely.
Le Limoux 2010 AOP Limoux
Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Mauzac. A lovely nose, scented with orange and lime oil. The palate shows soft citrus, subtle oak, hay and sweet herbs, with a streak of minerality. Generous and really rather lovely.
Occitania 2011 AOP Limoux
Odyssée 2011 AOP Limoux
100% Chardonnay. An abundance of peach, orange blossom and lime oil on both the nose and palate. Quite rich and opulent, but beautifully balanced. Long and lovely.
Dédicace 2010 AOP Limoux
100% Chenin Blanc. A subtle nose of spring flowers, peach, orange and herbs. Steely dry, with plenty of Chenin character and minerality, with cracking lemony acidity.
We shall be importing some of these in the near future, although we do of course already offer a selection of Chateau Rives-Blanques wines.
Clos du Gravillas - Minervois
I have met John Bojanowski on several occasions and have always been impressed with his wines, and his current selection is as good as ever. Given that we tend to import most of our wines directly from our growers, we don't carry any of John's wines, but I would never discount stocking some of them in the future, via his UK agent.
L'Inattendu Blanc 2011 AOP Minervois
80% Grenache Gris and Blanc, 20% Maccabeu. A wonderful nose of bread, spice, apple and clove, all of which come through on the palate, which exhibits a lovely spiced orange quality, with beautifully integrated and subtle oak, courtesy of 11 months in Austrian oak barrels. Very long and very lovely.
Emmenez-Moi au Bout du Terret Blanc IGP Cotes du Brian
Delicate, floral and mineral. Winey, though not so much in a fruity way, with subtle flavours of citrus, apple, licorice and herbs.
Lo Vielh Carignan IGP Cotes du Brian
Lovely aromas of cherry and bramble. Fresh, almost floral, with a hint of licorice. Beautifully balanced and fruity, with ripe tannins, refreshing acidity and a streak of minerality.
Chateu d'Anglès - La Clape
I first tasted the wines of Chateau Anglès at the Outsiders tasting in 2010 and was pretty impressed, so it was nice to taste the latest vintages. They also have a UK agent importer, but once again, I am certainly tempted to add some of their wines to our list, sometime in the future.
Classique Blanc 2010 La Clape
A blend of Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne. Strong citrus/orange aromas and flavours, winey more than fruity, with subtle oak. Nice wine.
Grand Vin Blanc 2009 La Clape
40% Bourboulenc, plus Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne, fermented and aged for 6 months in 1 and 2 year-old barrels. Soft citrus, spiced apple, garrigue and tobacco aromas - and a definite hint of the sea (the hill of La Clape borders the Mediterranean to the east of Narbonne, and was actually once a small island). The flavours are rich and ripe, but surprisingly elegant, with notes of apricot and peach. A delightful and age-worthy wine.
Classique Rouge 2009 La Clape
40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre. Aromas of cherry, redcurrant and roses, with subtle hints of tobacco, spices, mint and (again) the sea. The palate is soft and ripe, with gentle tannins and just the right amount of acidity. Warming and long.
Grand Vin Blanc 2008 La Clape
55% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah and 15% Grenache, aged for 10 months in oak barrels (25% of which are new). A lovely dark but transluscent colour, with a gorgeous nose of crystallised red and black fruits and classy, well-judged oak. Rich, dense and concentrated flavours of red fruits and fig, with a lovely savoury quality. Very long. Superb stuff.
Domaine Turner Pageot - Gabian
La Rupture 2011 IGP Pays de l'Hérault
Very fresh and perfumed, with aromas and flavours of peach, citrus and rhubarb, and an intriguing hint of asparagus. There is a "naturalness" to this wine (and indeed there is little or no sulphur added during the winemaking process) but it is beautifully clean and full of life. Long and absolutely gorgeous - a star wine.
Blanc 2011 IGP Languedoc
80% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne. Prickly, fresh and very natural. Lovely sour fruit and saline aromas and flavours. Quite rich, but beautifully balanced.
Le Rouge 2010 IGP Languedoc
80% Grenache (grown on schiste) and 20% Syrah (grown on volcanic soil). Lots of high-toned cherry, bramble and orange aromas, with hints of saline and tar and subtle oak (the majority of the blend is aged in vat). Smoky, slightly meaty, but fruity too.
Carmina Major 2010 IGP Languedoc
70% Syrah (grown on limestone) and 30% Mourvedre (grown on sandstone), aged in oak barrels for 1 year (15% new) and then for a further year in vat. Aromas of crystallised fruits, spices, white pepper and sweet tobacco. Rich, concentrated, warm and spicy, with grippy tannins and good acidity. Like the other wines (both red and white) there is a savoury, even saline quality to this wine, along with plenty of fruit. Long and lovely.
Brigitte Chevalier and her wines need no introduction to most readers of this blog (or of course our customers). Indeed, we were the first merchant to import Brigitte's fabulous wines into the UK and we hope to continue to do so for a long time to come. This latest batch of wines are definitely the best yet, especially with the recent addition of a Carignan-based wine, made from the fruits of an ancient and very beautiful vineyard high in the hills above the small village of Caussiniojouls - deep in the heart of the Faugères region - which Brigitte acquired only last year.
It won't be too long until until we import the 2010's and 2011's (possibly before Christmas, but if not, then definitely very early in 2013). Meanwhile, of course, you can still buy a selection of Domaine de Cébène wines from our online shop.