Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Outsiders (Part 2) - Domaine Jones and Hegarty Chamans

Continuing my write-up from the recent Outsiders tasting at the Maison du Languedoc-Roussillon in London, here are my notes on the wines of two more excellent growers. Once again, if you want extra information about the growers, I have added links to their websites.

Katie Jones - Domaine Jones, Tuchan

Katie Jones hails from Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire, but worked for a good number of years as export sales and marketing director at the Mont Tauch Co-operative in Tuchan, before finally succumbing to the urge to make her own wine. Katie owns just under 3 hectares of vines near Maury, although she makes her wines (with the help of Australian winemaker David Morrison) at her cellar 25 km away in Tuchan. For this reason (not to mention the fact that it also avoids much bureaucracy and paperwork) the wines are labelled as Vins de France.

Katie Jones 

Jones Blanc 2009 Vin de France
Grenache Gris, with a splash of Muscat a Petit Grains. Grenache Gris isn't usually the most expressive or aromatic variety, but the addition of that small amount of Muscat has imbued this wine with a lovely perfume of honey, apricot and flowers. The palate is gloriously fruity, with a certain richness and gentle spiciness, but  beautifully balanced and elegant with it. Long, too. A lovely wine.
Jones Rouge 2009 Vin de France
100% old-vine Grenache. This has a nice light colour and another really expressive nose of fresh fruits, garrigue herbs and spice, with a hint of cigar box. The palate is a riot of bramble, raspberry and redcurrant, but with plenty of garrigue herb and spice flavours - there's a lot going on in this wine. The tannins are fine and the acidity is ample, making for a quite rich, but very elegant - even feminine - wine.
Jones Muscat 2009 Vin de France
I was so busy chatting away to Katie and enjoying this wine that I completely forgot to write any sort of note. But I do remember that it was deliciously aromatic, grapey and apricotty, in the way that only a Muscat can be. It is an unusual wine, in that it is neither bone dry nor fortified (the two styles most often encountered in Languedoc and Roussillon). Instead, it falls somewhere between off-dry and sweet, making for a deliciously drinkable wine, with residual sweetness balanced by plenty of orange-tinged acidity. Yum!

Sir John Hegarty and Philippa Crane - Hegarty Chamans, Trausse-Minervois

Sir John Hegarty made his name as co-founder and Creative Director of advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (remember "Vorsprung duch technik" and the Levi's jeans launderette ads?). In 2002, John and his partner, New Zealander Philippa Crane, bought the 20 hectare Chamans estate. With the help of their winemaker Samuel Berger, John and Philippa are making some excellent red and white Minervois wines.

Philippa Crane and Sir John Hegarty
Hegarty Chamans Les Chamans Blanc 2008 Minervois
50% each of Marsanne and Roussanne. Honey, almonds and spring flowers, with nicely integrated oak. the palate is rich with fruit and considerably complex, with flavours of honey, lemon zest, peach and apricot. It manages to be both full-bodied and warmly spicy, yet very elegant. Lovely wine.
Hegarty Chamans Les Chamans Rouge 2007 Minervois
35% Carignan, 35% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre. Fruit - and lots of it! The palate is rich, fruity and robust, even a touch rustic, but so clean and fresh. In fact, quintessential Minervois, with lots of sweet red and black fruit flavours, nicely rustic but ripe tannins and excellent acidity. A really nice wine.
Hegarty Chamans Cuvée No. 1 2005 Minervois
60% Syrah, 40% Carignan. Sweet fruits on the nose, with a touch of meatiness, even funkiness. Very together and complex, with nicely integrated oak. The palate is rich and spicy, with pastilley fruit flavours and nicely resolved tannins and a soft oakiness. I like the nose more than the palate at the moment, but I think this wine will develop nicely with a few more years of bottle age.
Hegarty Chamans Cuvée No. 2 2008 Minervois
70% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault. Crystallised fruits, cloves and garrigue herbs, and nicely woody, in a cigar box/cedar way. Soft, fruity and rich but again elegant. An impressive wine, which is really lovely to drink already, but will surely age well over the next 3 to 5 years.
Next up will be Chateau d'Angles and O'Vineyards.

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