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The Winter Tasting Case

The Winter Tasting Case


As the days shorten and the evenings cool down, it's time to start looking at some more "serious" wines. To this end, we've put together a box of six wines, most of them new to us, which offer a little more complexity than those easy Summer wines that we've been drinking. 

Château Coupe Roses "Argès" 2020Stunning white blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. Produced naturally (indigenous yeasts, no sulphur). I am usually wary of a lot of natural whites in particular, but this is fresh as a daisy with lovely notes of white fruits. The Grenache as usual gives a nice round body whilst the Roussanne brings a wonderful freshness and acidity which takes the wine to another level. In the mouth it is complex and begins to express exotic fruit flavours. Super balance. This is a classic wine for a Suprême de Poulet aux Cèpes or even a Blanquette de Veau. 

Domaine Ollier Taillefer, "Allégro" AOP Faugères 2020Another super white blend for another great organic wine producer. Ollier Taillefer's vines are situated around the village of Fos, between 250m and 400m high. The vineyards on the slopes are covered in schist stones, and upon closer inspection, some of the vineyards appear to have a near absence of soil. How do they survive? This tough terroir means that machine harvesting is impossible and that yields are low. Two things which can only help the quality of the wine. This 50/50 blend of Vermentino and Roussanne oozes freshness but also depth. On the nose it is mineral and fresh, but in the mouth it reveals itself to be a bigger beast, with a lovely fat mouthfeel. Superb balance. Great with grilled fish but absolutely at its best with goat's cheese, especially older, firmer styles where the wine can counteract the acidity. Allegro + a local aged Pelardon cheese is a marriage made in heaven!

Le Lolo de l'Anhel, AOP Corbières, 2020
A lovely example of how the Corbières wines have changed over time. This unoaked, organic wine comes from vines grown at over 200m. Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. The wine is 70% Carignan, the classic variety of the Corbières. They use a particular type of wine press called a "pressoir à dépression". These pneumatic presses allow the vigneron to perform a "soft" press which avoids too much extraction of tannins and astringency. That means that we end up with a softer, fruitier style, but still packed with plenty of brambly Carignan fruit. Drink with any grilled meats or even meaty fish such as tuna, but at its best with a charcuterie selection.

Domaine de Roquemal, Les Grès, AOP Grès de Montpellier 2019
Syrah at its best. It makes up 80% of the blend, with 10% Grenache for roundness and 10% Mourvèdre for extra depth and funkiness. The lesser-known Grès de Montpellier appellation does produce some wonderful wines on the  stony hills. It's a strange appellation, scattered around several communes to the north and west of Montpellier, with most of the zones situated on plateaux or on top of hills. Lovely dark colour. Dark chocolate and spicy garrigue notes, with lovely black fruit in the mouth. Ideal with beef and lamb. Organic. 

Terres des Dames, AOP Coteaux du Languedoc
Terres des Dames (formally known as Mas Des Dames) has been producing excellent organic wines at the picturesque Causses et Veyran vineyard since 2002. Dutch owner Lidewij van Wilgen now produces a wonderful range of wines that are highly respected around the world, and her wines feature on the wine lists of many Michelin-starred restaurants. This wine "La Dame" is an unoaked blend of Grenache (50%) which provides a round, fruity base for the wine, plus old vine Carignan and Syrah. Yields are low, and there is much concentration, but this wine has a lightness of touch which makes it eminently drinkable. Hand harvested of course, as with all the wines in this selection. 

Domaine La Jasse Castel,  "La Pimpanella", AOP Terrasses de Larzac, 2020
The Terrasses de Larzac appellation is THE area that everyone is talking about in the Languedoc. Large diurnal temperature differences during the growing period. Stony, clay/limestone soils with hints of ancient lava flows here and there. Buffeted by the winds in the higher vineyards. It can look inhospitable, but it is one of those areas that when tamed by a quality winemaker can produce stunning wines. La Jasse Castel has been producing wines at altitude (up to 400m) since 1997. The wines are full of fruit and spice. Even though this wine, "La Pimpanella" has a short ageing in stainless steel before bottling, it still has amazing depth of flavour. Bluberries, bay leaves and garrigue spices abound in this wine. Complexity but freshness too. Superb.
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