Thursday 21 January 2016

Wine tasting with Charlemagne Wine Club

The Charlemagne wine club meets most months in Ealing, West London and has been going since 1974. Charlemagne isn't really a club, with no membership fee and open to all. Tastings are currently outstanding value at £20 and some are given by professional speakers. We first went in the early 1980s and every few years I host an evening presenting Languedoc wines. It's a lovely group to present to, being principally friendly enthusiastic wine lovers with varying degrees of wine knowledge.

I am fortunate in being able to source the wines in the region. This does mean, not intentionally and to the annoyance of some on the evening, that most wines are not available in the UK. The theme was growers that are favourites, either relatively recently or going back to the 1990s. This meant sticking to Mediterranean varieties but I deliberately went for a diversity of styles.

So, this was the line-up, two whites and six reds with a wine from Roussillon :-

Domaine Ribiera Y'a un Terret 2014 (Pézenas) Terret blanc
Mas Gabriel Champ des Bleuets 2014 (Pézenas) Vermentino and Grenache gris
Mas Brugière l'Arbouse 2013 (Pic St Loup) Syrah Grenache
Mas Coutelou Le Vin des Amis 2014 (Puimisson) Syrah Grenache
Terrasse d'Elise Le Pradel 2013 (Terrasses du Larzac) Cinsault
Leon Barrel Jardis 2012 (Faugères) Carignan, Syrah, Grenache
Domaine Treloar Motus 2011 (Roussillon) Mourvèdre
Domaine Ollier-Taillefer Castel Fossibus 2006 blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan etc. (Faugères)

With the exception of the 2006 all the wines were decanted and poured back into their bottles on the morning of the tasting, an approach that weeded out a corked specimen. At the start I asked everyone to note their 3 favourite wines, plus to take it seriously as the vote would determine which bottles to open at the end with bread, cheese and conversation.

The Leon Barrel and Treloar Motus (a Roussillon interloper) polled the most votes with Mas Coutelou and the other three reds following closely. Adjusting (roughly) the scores for price then Mas Coutelou at about €10 edges it, but the only real conclusion to draw is that personal preference on style dominated.

The Domaine Ribiera Y'a un Terret divided opinion the most, as it does our household. Some loved the complexity and nutty baked apple oxidative style, others found it too challenging. The Terrasse d'Elise Le Pradel stood out stylistically to the Languedoc stereotype with a lighter more fragrant style and if pushed was my wine of the night. I loved the tannins and suppleness of the Treloar Motus. Perhaps next time I'll present a Roussillon only tasting. The Ollier-Taillefer 2006 was made to age 10 plus years, although this bottle had reached the stage where it could have come from anywhere.

The following domaines have UK stockists I know of. Some have agents that only supply restaurants.

Mas Gabriel - Wine Society and Cambridge Wine Merchants
Mas Coutelou - Leon Stolarski Fine Wines and Roberson Wine (but for reasons I'm not prepared to reveal prices in France are much less).
Mas Brugière - Yapp Brothers
Domaine Treloar - Cambridge Wine Merchants
Leon Barral - Buon Vino (at the time of writing list the wine tasted)
Terrasse d'Elise - Buon Vino (at the time of writing list a Syrah)


  1. Great selection, varied but all very good wines in my opinion. Glad to see that Jeff's did well for obvious reasons. I love the Ribiera but understand it is a wine which would split the house. Some wines do, we had a Georgian orange wine recently which Pat hated and I loved.
    Sounds a great night.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post, big fan. Keep up the good work!