Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Journée oenotouristique with Les Beaux Nez Rouges

Groups of small independent growers banding together to do marketing is not new. The coopératives movement that started over 100 years ago was about collectively marketing wine before the construction of the cavés we see today. The Outsiders group and Vinifilles are two contemporary examples from the region with the themes of growers from outside the region and vigneronnes respectively. The theme for Les Beaux Nez Rouges is they share the same oenologue Hervé Chabert, albeit that for many he seems more a friend, sounding board and a man with a portable bottling line. The diverse styles of wines being made back this up - these are independently minded growers.

Lunch beckons at Villa Symposia
Apparently the group have held an annual event for 10 years. This year over 100 enthusiasts headed to Villa Symposia in Aspiran - seemingly the epicentre of the groups vineyards with the majority visible from the commune. The format of the day is an outdoor tasting followed by lunch and optional promenades en calèche (horse carriage rides). The quality of the buffet lunch created by the vigneron's families is taken as seriously as the wine making. Sensational sour-dough baguettes were ordered from the wood burning ovens in nearby Canet, pélardons from Mas Rolland, chèvre tomme from the Larzac, organic vegetables from the commune, 25 Kg of fruits including strawberries picked in the Aude the day before.

Post lunch
Promenades en calèche

Eight vignerons were showing 23 wines between them so tasting everything wasn't onerous. The majority of bottles were under €10 making it the most modestly priced tasting line up I've attended for ages.

Here are some highlights

Domaine Bonetto Fabrol (Philippe Bonetto) are north of Orange in the Rhône and had the furthest to travel. The journey will have temporarily upset their wines but enough promise and interest came through Colombier 2014 (Grenache, Syrah) and Heritage 2013 (Syrah) that I purchased a couple of bottles. Nice perfume and softness, especially pronounced on the Heritage (sic) Syrah. The only openly biodynamic producer present.

This was my first encounter with Domaine Emile et Roses (Marcel Gisclar) at a tasting. The Carignan blanc 2014 was just starting to come to life with fresh garrigue herbs and lovely integrated acidity plus a bit of body. The reds weren't for me. For Léa 2011 (Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet) I noted "woody woodpecker". Unfortunately Marcel wasn't showing his Cinsault or Aramon and I was shocked to learn that his delicious inexpensive Mouvedre is no longer made. This makes our couple of bottles sort of irreplaceable.

Mas d'Agalis (Lionel Maurel) Le Grand Carré 2014 (Terret, Clairette, Vermentino and Chenin Blanc) was certainly the wildest white on show - spiky, apples and nuts, refreshing. Will divide opinion but not mine. Yo no puedo mas 2013 (Carignan with Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault) is a red that ping-pongs savoury fruits around the palate and has become one of our favourites.

Villa Symposia (Eric Prissette) were the home team. The prevailing gale was keeping everyone cool and would have passed through their vines just seconds before reaching us. Blanc 2014 (Grenache, Carignan, Terret) is their best so far and they've absolutely nailed the level of oak to my taste i.e. you barely notice it. Amphora 2013 (Cinsault with some Syrah) is proper red wine with some grippy tannins yet supple character. Equilibre 2012 (Syrah plus Carignan, Mourvèdre amd Grenache) is more savoury with more length and obvious but well integrated oak.

Winemaker Nenko Dunev with venue owner Éric Prissette
David Caer pours his crunchy Cinsault

Clos Mathelisse (David Caer) makes one red, Exorde 2013 (Cinsault) which is our house and party wine - crunchy with hints of bitter cherries, uncomplicated inexpensive drinking. The only pure Cinsault on show but a good one. I think the secret is the cool north facing aspect of the vineyard.

Domaine Grégory White took over the promising Mas d'Arlenques a couple of years ago when the previous owner was forced to retire with back trouble. White is Rosé 2014 (Grenache, Cinsault) is a relatively rare no added sulphur rosé. Soft peach nose with a palate that lets the light in. Terret 2013 has hints of the sea and iodine and an acidity that isn't contrived. Jamais pas Soif 2014 (Grenache) I'd tasted a couple of months before and found it a touch too much heady fruit gourmandise, now seemingly calmer and more interesting.

Domaine Ribiera (Régis Pichon) have no red wine until the 2014s are bottled in a few weeks time. Y'a un Terret 2013 has a mineral flint character and structure that's rare in the midi. Canilles R... 2013 (Rousanne) manages to be a Rousanne that avoids being heavy and aromatic, the secret being no added sulphur apparently so the result is more northern Rhone than midi. Canilles 2014 (Clairette) is more subtle and understated with flowers, citrus fruits and fennel.

Grégory White enjoys his zero sulphite rosé
Cool as mid-summer's day - Christine and Régis Pichon

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great day, sorry I wasn't there. Some favourites in David Caer and Gregory White as well as Regis and Christine. I too am a fan of Mas d'Agalis the white is my sort of wine. Not a great fan of Symposia I must admit but it must pay well looking at the venue :)