Sunday, 19 July 2009

Domaine de Barroubio Red

Domaine de Barroubio occupies most of a hamlet above the sleepy village of Saint-Jean-de-Minervois was one of the first domains we visited on discovering the Languedoc back in 1993. It was to seek out the elegant floral and citrus vins doux naturel Muscat we had enjoyed in a restaurant. It’s always been our preferred style of the region’s sweet Muscat – more grapes than raisons and a bit racier.

It was on later visits that we were introduced to Barroubio’s reds from vineyards lower down the slopes. The basic Minervois is a Cariginan, Syrah and Grenache blend that's rounded, fruity, balanced and fine easy drinking. Available fairly widely from cavistes and at just 5 € it’s one of our reliable everyday drinking staples.

The Cuvée Marie Therese is 75% Syrah and 25% Granache and spends a year in large oak barriques. We’ve been drinking the 2000 in the UK over the past three or so years having filled our boots through irresistible bin-end offers. The colour is full garnet red that offers a soft fruit raspberry aroma with fresh thyme and a hint of liquorice and cherry. It tastes as it smells with a supple mouth feel and gentle finish and is not too heavy. In its youth it had a more defined structure with handbag leathers, more spice, and a lot less raspberry which is the surprising character of what is now a fully mature wine that will soon decline. The 2006 is around 9,50 €.

There's a third highly regarded red of mainly old vine Carignan, Cuvée Jean Miquel that for some reason I’ve never tasted. Raymond is the current winemaker from the Miquel family who have been at Barroubio for many generations.

Monday, 6 July 2009

French Coutry Wine RIP?

OK, this entry has nothing to do with the Languedoc, it's about a holiday wine on the Ile de Ré. Perhaps the only connection is that it concerns a Vin de Pays, and Languedoc wine lovers will know this isn't an indicator of quality.
I ordered this white, Le Royal from the island's only coop, for a family lunch on the sun drenched quayside bar bistro at La Flotte. While the food is best forgotten, along with the near x4 mark-up on this 3,50€ wine, it left two lasting impressions.
The first was the extraordinary descriptive note on the back label. I translate and précis a little (click on the image to read the French).
«By its style and taste, this wine presents itself to the gourmondise. It is faithful to its terroir. This white is proud of its insular expression. It suggests to you a well-being gourmand.» Now for the tasting notes «Colour pale luminous yellow. Nose floral (broom, mimosa, lime flower). Hint of lemon-balm and, when swirled, passion flower. Lively palate with notes of citrus fruits.» After this are the more practical food accompaniment suggestions and serving temperature. Amazingly there was no mention of the cepage - Colombard with some Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

The second impression was the taste of the wine. With some imagination, and allowance for the low-key finish that necessitated a good mouthful, the tasting notes are just about believable despite the French tendency to seriously elaborate the (in this case) floral similarities. The real point, however, is this wine could have come from anywhere; California and South Africa being strong candidates. Nowhere on the label was «faithful to its terroir» explained. No vine on the island can be more than a mile from the sea, but any character this imparted wasn't detectable by me nor mentioned on the label. Three quarters of the grapes grown are used to make Cognac or Pineau Ilrhéa, the local name for Pineau des Charentes (one third cognac, two thirds grape juice). Nevertheless, the wine just tastes like a stainless steel international success. French Country wine RIP?