In September of this year, Sud de France, the promotional body for the Languedoc-Roussillon held a tasting dubbed ‘30 Great Wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon, The Experts’ Choice’ at their London Cavendish Square branch – one of their worldwide Maisons de la Région.
Seeing off some tough competition, (Daumas Gassac, Grange de Peres, Mas Jullien, Peyre Rose, Château de la Négly) the La Peira 2006 was judged best red for both the Terrasses du Larzac and Coteaux du Languedoc appellations in both Neal Martin’s (Wine Advocate) and The Wine Gang’s notes from the tasting.
While The Wine Gang (Tim Atkin, Anthony Rose, Joanna Simon, Olly Smith and Tom Cannavan) seemed to be more positive overall in their assessments (in comparison to Neal Martin), the tasting provided a rare opportunity for UK tasters to try a wide variety of domaines from the region, and in some cases the chance to sample some (not so easy to find!) older vintages.
A selection (for the two appellations) from their tasting notes below.
Neal Martin’s full tasting notes (amongst many others) are on the Wine Advocate (Wine Journal) Site
The Wine Gang’s full tasting notes (amongst many others) are on The Wine Gang website.
Neal Martin’s Wine Advocate Tasting Notes for the Terrasses du Larzac and Coteaux du Languedoc
2008 Mas Daumas Gassac Vin de Pays de Hérault 86
Simple nose that to be frank, does not really say much, with just some faint hints of elderflower and pear. The palate is simple, quite elegant with touches of grapefruit, lime and pear, but I cannot help feeling that this is a little commercial, when I have encountered far superior vintages in the past. Drink now-2010. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2006 Château de la Négly La Falaise 86
A very ripe, earthy bouquet, well defined with touches of singed leather and black pepper. The palate is ripe and rounded on the entry, smoky black fruit, a touch of sur-maturité towards the finish just marring the overall effect. Drink 2010-2013. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2006 Château de la Négly La Côte 85
This is a little baked on the nose: touches of bacon fat and autumn bonfire lacing the super ripe, glossy black fruit. The palate is opulent, very ripe with a lot of glycerine. Kirsch, damson and a touch of white pepper on the fatty finish. So-so. Drink now. Tasted September 2009 Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2003 Domaine Alain Chabanon Coteaux de Languedoc L’Esprit de Font Caude 87
A decent effort in a difficult vintage. A lifted nose of summer fruits, marmalade and honey complemented by a hint of dried apricot. The palate is full-bodied with bold tannins, earthy red-berried fruit with ginger and lemongrass, then turning unexpectedly t a more tannic, austere finish (and this is ’03???) Intriguing. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2005 Domaine de Montcalmès Coteaux de Languedoc 88
This has a rather anonymous nose, despite some coaxing refusing to deliver except some scorched earth/smoky scents. The palate is more promising with clean, crisp red-berried fruit laced with garrigues, quite elegant and well crafted but somehow coming across as rather timid and disappears before we have a chance to become acquainted. Drink now-2010. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2006 La Peira en Damaisela Coteaux de Languedoc 90+
This is an impressive wine and I think it will get even better. A lovely, joyful nose of blackberry, black olive tapenade and Provencal herbs that whisk you straight to the South of France. Ripe and tannic, surprisingly primal, tarry black fruit with an assertive, mouth-coating finish. This needs a little time to coalesce but I appreciate its hubris and extrovert personality. Drink 2010-2015. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
1993 Domaine Peyre Rose Coteaux de Languedoc Clos des Cistes 87
A mature, open-knit nose with roasted herbs, autumn bonfire, thyme, white fennel and a touch of fig. The palate is medium-bodied, probably approaching the end of its drinking plateau with smoked meats, white pepper and a touch of Chinese 5-spice towards the bittersweet finish. Moderate length. Softening up in the glass. Fine. Drink now. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
1998 Domaine Peyre Rose Coteaux de Languedoc Syrah Leone 85?
This has a very bretty, green pepper infuse nose that I dislike although the palate is better, quite sharp in acidity, bacon and smoke, lacking a little harmony. Wants to impress but difficult to love. Drink now. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2001 Mas de l’Ecriture Coteaux de Languedoc l’Ecriture 89+
A simple, sous-bois nose with a black fruits, a hint of salami and tomato vine and…yes…a touch of Marmite! The palate is very nicely balanced with wild strawberry, plum and a tang of marmalade, quite weighty on the finish with grippy, rustic tannins and a touch of white pepper hanging around on the aftertaste. I actually think this will get better with just another couple of years bottle age. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2005 Prieure St Jean de Bebian Coteaux de Languedoc 87
A light simply, slightly dusty nose with a touch of dried apricot. The palate is sweet and ripe on the entry with savoury, meaty notes; grippy tannins, a touch of sweaty saddle with a dry foursquare finish laced with Provencel herbs. Not bad, but expensive for what it is. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2006 Domaine St Daumary Coteaux du Languedoc Asphodèle Pic St Loup 89
The Asphodèle Pic St Loup has an attractive nose with lush black plums, liquorices and a touch of melted tar, with just a touch of brett that merely adds, rather than detracts from its complexity. The palate has a rich ripe entry with chewy tannins, black plum, soy, roasted herbs and a touch of Hoi Sin. Compact finish suggests this would benefit from another year in bottle. Drink 2010-2015. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2004 Domaine de la Grange des Peres Vin de Pays de l’Herault 88
This has a rather diffuse, leathery, earthy nose that is just a little loose-knit for my liking, but the palate is gutsy and stout, dry tannic structure, irony, very good weight on the finish. An uncompromising rustic Languedoc that is full of character, but yearns to be accompanied by some hearty cuisine. Drink now-2010. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
2001 Mas Jullien Coteaux du Languedoc 88
This has a leather, herbaceous nose with Asian spices, some ferrous elements developing with aeration. Medium-bodied palate with racy acidity, quite natural and fleshy with notes of sour cherry, game, damson, dried figs with a spicy, lively finish that is just a little pointed at the moment. Very fine. Drink now-2011. Tasted September 2009. Copyright © 2001-2009 – The Wine Advocate, Inc.
The Wine Gang Oct 2009 Languedoc-Roussillon, The Experts’ Choice Oct 2009
Billed as a tasting of 30 Great Wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon, ‘The Experts’ Choice’ , we selected our own favourites, and a few duds, from what was by and large an excellent showcase for the quality and style of wines, mostly red, but a smattering of whites too, of the South of France. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
La Pèira La Pèira en Damaisela 2006 93/100
A very fine red. This powerfully built spicy red from Rob Dougan, Karine Ahton and Jérémie Depierre is dark in colour, big, rich and smoky in its aromas, and packed with powerful concentrated blackberry and plum fruitiness; the backbone is firm and serious, the oak polished, the chewiness of the tannins indicating that food definitely needs to be on the agenda here. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Prieuré St Jean de Bébian Prieuré St Jean de Bébian 2006 93/100
Prieuré St Jean de Bébian has long been one of the great names of the Languedoc and under the stewardship of former wine writer Chantal Lecouty and Jean Claude Le Brun, it reached new heights of quality before it was sold this year to the Russian tycoon with a porn star name, Dmitriy Pumpyanski. It is unquestionably a sexy wine, with its aromatic notes of fennel and anis, a fine, intensely flavoured and concentrated blend of black fruit flavours and garrigue herb, its silky tannins finely balanced by fresh acidity. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Domaine Peyre Rose Clos des Cistes 1993 92/100
While Domaine Peyre Rose’s more farmyardy, younger 1998 Clos Syrah Leone showed less well at this tasting, this red from former estate agent Marlène Soria is remarkable for its age. With its smoky, evolved, slightly earthy undertones, the fruit is sweet and cherryish, the tannins silky smooth and although it’s slightly drying now, there’s enough complexity of evolved flavour here to make this a really intriguing red. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Domaine de la Grange des Pères Rouge 2004 92/100
To call Laurent Vaillé a star of the Languedoc is almost an understatement such has been his contribution to the more elegant side of Languedoc’s reds since he started up on virgin territory in 1982, a stone’s throw from Mas de Daumas Gassac, no doubt much to Aimé Guibert’s irritation. This blend has a lovely raspberryish fragrance and juicy soft summer pudding fruits in abundance, its elegant, almost Pinot Noir-like silkiness suffused with spice and a lovely clarity of fruit quality. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Mas de l’Ecriture L’Ecriture 2001 92/100
Made by the meticulous Pascal Fulla, from a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault, each variety vinified separately, and often also aged in different types of oak, this is a still youthful blend despite its age, showing aromatic bright cherry and smoky bacon oak spice, juicy ripe cherry and mulberry fruit with supple textured tannins and deceptive concentration because of the elegant overall balance. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Domaine de Montcalmès Montcalmès 2004 91/100
Frédéric Portalié, who worked at Les Granges des Pères, and it shows, is a winemaker who strives above all for elegance and this wine is a classic example, almost a Pinot Noir in the Languedoc with its fragrant cherryish perfume and the voluptuous curves of its supple sweet cherry and strawberry fruit, finely balanced by fresh acidity, showing the hand of a truly gifted winemaker. Not for fans of Parker-esque reds. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Domaine St Daumary L’Asphodèle 2007 90/100
Dark in colour, this richly fruited Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre blend from Julien Chapel, in transition to organic viticulture near Pic Saint Loup, is made in the modern style, showing nicely polished vanillin oak with dark mulberry and blackberry fruit richness, powerful alcohol and a firm backbone of tannins. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Domaine Alain Chabanon L’Esprit de Font Caude 2003 89/100
There’s no doubt that Alain Chabanon is one of the Languedoc’s star winemakers, and this blend from his 20 hectares of vines near Montpeyroux with its kirsch cherry aromas and voluptuous sweet cherry and strawberry fruit, mineral fresh finish and nicely polished with a thin veneer of oak shows why. With its firm, dry tannins, a product of the scorching heat of the 2003 vintage, it needs food. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Clos Marie Métairies du Clos 2006 89/100
There’s a strong, pungently oak side to the aromas of this well-made Pic St Loup red from Christophe Peyrus and Françoise Julien, whose family used to send the grapes to the local co-op. Biodynamic since 1992, it’s a source of excellent reds like this blend made in a modern style, with plenty of oaky maraschino cherry fruit sweetness, power and concentration, if a tad on the oaky side and chunky on the finish. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Château de la Negly La Falaise 2006 87/100
This is a pleasingly approachable red from Négly , which also produces some very expensive, low-yielding reds from its clifftop vineyards near la Clape; this one may not have quite the stuffing of its grander counterparts but with its garrigue notes and supple, spicy fruit plus a twist of bittersweet chocolate, it finishes with nice fresh and juicy acidity. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com
Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc 2008 92/100
This Languedoc blend from the renowned Aimé Guibert, a man never slow to blow his own trumpet, is an exceptionally good dry white, a beautiful ripe, apple and Poire Williams blend in which the apple, peach and pear fruit is deliciously fresh and zingy but rich too, with juicy tropical citrusy acidity and barely perceptible, poised oak. The Wine Gang – www.thewinegang.com