Tuesday 16 November 2010

The Outsiders (Part 3) - Château d'Anglès and O'Vineyards

Here's the third part of my review of the Outsiders tasting in London last week, featuring the wines of a couple more excellent growers. Part 4 will follow tomorrow.

Eric, Vianney and Arnaud Fabre - Chateau d'Anglès, Saint-Pierre la Mer, La Clape

Following 8 years as technical director at Château Lafite Rothschild in Paulliac, Eric Fabre purchased the historic La Clape estate of Château d'Anglès in 2002. He now runs the estate with his two sons Vianney and Arnaud. Only 36 of the 80 hectares are planted to vines, the remainder being a mixture of wild garrigue and pine forest. La Clape was once a small island off the coast of Narbonne, but is now joined to the Mediterranean coastline and is effectively a small mountain (well, a hill really) reaching an altitude of around 200m (650 feet). Average temperatures are amongst the highest in France, thus providing an ideal climate for grape growing, whilst the closeness of the Mediterranean ensures the wines are imbued with a certain maritime savoury/saline quality.

Château d'Anglès Classique Blanc 2008 Languedoc La Clape
A blend of Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne. Apricots and flowers on the nose. A rich palate, quite warming and winey, rather than obviously fruity. But the nose won me over - and I think it has more to give, with a year or two more in bottle.

Château d'Anglès Grand Vin Blanc 2007 Languedoc La Clape
Same blend, which I assume spends at least some time in oak barrels. A bready, mealy, quite oaky nose, with notes of honey, apricot and orange. The palate is rich and oaky and quite warm.

Château d'Anglès Classique Rouge 2007 Languedoc La Clape
Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache, aged in vat. Garrigue herbs and soft, crystallised fruits on the nose, with a touch of savoury/saline. The palate is very elegant and soft, with savoury, spice and bags of fruit, complemented by fine tannins. Quite complex and long. I like it.

Château d'Anglès Grand Vin Rouge 2007 Languedoc La Clape
40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre, plus Grenache and Carignan, aged for 10 months in a mix of new, one and two year-old barrels. Very fragrant on the nose, with soft fruits, savoury and garrigue in equal measures, with nicely softened cedary oak. Rich, but soft in the mouth, with crystallised fruits and a gentle spiciness. Quite modern, but very elegant. Lovely wine.

Ryan O'Connell - O'Vineyards, Villemoustaussou, Carcassonne

Ryan O'Connell, his American father Joe and French/Vietnamese mother Liz arrived France in 2005, having traded the family business building luxury homes in Florida for a more rural existence making wine in the Cabardès region. Ryan is full of infectious enthusiasm and, as well as making some very good wines, works tirelessly in promoting the wines of southern France as a whole.  His favourite toy is his flip video camera, which he uses to good effect, creating an ever-increasing number of informative and enthusiastic (and occasionally very funny) short videos, featuring visits to different growers the length and breadth of Languedoc and Roussillon, which he posts regularly on his Love That Languedoc blog. In fact, Ryan leaves no stone un-turned in using the power of the Internet to get the message across about the joys of wine as a whole, and about Languedoc and Roussillon in particular. Long may he keep blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting and generally bigging-up his adopted region!

The shy and retiring Ryan O'Connell(!)

O'Vineyards O'Syrah 2005 Vin de Pays de La Cité de Carcassone
100% Syrah. Cassis, plums and bramble, beef and spice aromas - lots of fruit, but savoury too, with notes of garrigue herbs. The palate is rich and very spicy, but the Syrah character still comes through, and it is surprisingly elegant, for such a big wine. At 5 years old, it is good to drink, but there is absolutely no hurry.

O'Vineyards Trah Lah Lah 2005 Vin de Pays de La Cité de Carcassone
65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark colour ,with a tiny rim. Again, a savoury, meaty nose, like a fruity gravy, with hints of new leather. The palate is rich with sweet fruit, still quite tannic, but with good underlying acidity. The finish is bitter-sweet. Another keeper. For me, not quite as enjoyable as the Syrah, but a good wine nonetheless.

O'Vineyards Proprietor's Reserve 2005 Cabardès
Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. There's oak, but it is nicely integrated, with plenty of rich cassis and plum fruit, leather, polished wood and spice. The palate is loaded with rich, sweet fruit flavours, but with excellent balancing acidity, something akin to a new world Claret blend. In fact, if I somebody told me it was from California, I might believe them - and that would be no mean compliment. Very nice wine!

I like the way Ryan and his father are pushing the boundaries in the somewhat unfashionable (by which I mean relatively unknown) region of Cabardès, immersing themselves totally in the French culture, whilst bringing fresh ideas and new world innovation to the winemaking process. They deserve to succeed.

Next up - Domaine de Calet and Domaine de Cébène.


Alan Smeaton said...


Any prospect of some of these new finds appearing on the wine list in the future?

Leon Stolarski said...


I have a shipment coming over in a couple of weeks from LA Combe Blanche, d'Archimbaud and Cébene, which also includes some fine still and sparkling Limoux from Chateau Rives-Blanques (whom I covered in part 1 of the Ousiders write-up). My next post will also include Domaine de Ca;et, who are making some brilliant Costieres de Nimes. They are sending me some samples, with a view to me taking some of their wines in the New Year. There are a couple of others who interest me greatly, too. Watch this space!

Ryan O'Connell said...

Thanks so much for the notes, Leon. I'm also realllllly glad somebody mentioned my dad. I get all the publicity and it's great to see somebody remembers who ACTUALLY puts most of the effort in.