Rhone Tasting Part 2 – The Midi

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November 23rd 2009

Room One had to be the most diverse room certainly in flavours and also geographically speaking as all the estates came from different parts of Southern France.

Starting off with Domaine Begude, I think his wines are brilliantly made. The Cuvee Especial is lovely and fresh with a good mineral tang, I think this has something to do with his vineyards being at higher altitude. The Etoile, his smarter Cuvee, was drinking beautiful and really does taste like a good Burgundy.

On table two Graham Nutter showed his delicious wines from his property in the Minervois called Chateau St. Jacques d’Albas. He makes lovely wines with good red fruits and a warm spicy character. I thought that on the night the 2003 and 2006 showed particularly well. The 2003 also comes in magnums which is good fun. His top cuvee La Chapelle is a lot more serious in style, I believe it is made up of nearly 100 % Syrah and aged for approximately 18 months in new oak. A very well made wine and I’m sure this 2007 will evolve beautifully.

Graham Nutter hard at work
Graham Nutter hard at work

At an En Primeur Rhone tasting you probably wouldn’t expect to find a table of rose, however this is no ordinary rose. The proprietor Sasha Lachine, who’s family used to own Chateau Prieur Lachine in Margaux, embarked on an extraordinary project to create a rose in the Cote de Provence unlike any other.

We showed 4 cuvees, the entry cuvee is called Whispering Angel. This for me is about as good as it gets for a rose, it has lovely fruit and balance. This now leads me on to the other Cuvees, these are very serious wines indeed. They are far from a typical light rose. They are hugely complex, have been aged in oak and unusual for rose have ageing potential. If you smell them blind they almost smell like white Burgundy. The better the cuvee the more complex they become a little bit like Village, 1er Cru and Grand Cru.

Our very own Claire Griffiths enjoying Sache Lichine's super cuve Garrus
Our very own Claire Griffiths enjoying Sache Lichine’s super cuve Garrus

On the last tables, there were two estates that shine out as individual pioneering properties in their regions.

Firstly Mas de Daumas Gassac. They make exceptional wines. The white was marvellous, it is an extraordinary wine with lots of complexity. They use a huge number of grape varieties in the blend and it still retains it’s fresh pure character. The red was also showing purity of fruit with a wonderfully velvety finish.

Madame Floriane Durrbach of Domaine de Trevallon
Madame Floriane Durrbach of Domaine de Trevallon

On the final table we showed the the wines from Domaine Trevallon. You can understand why this estate has created such a name for itself. They are definitely different in flavour in the sense it really is Bordeaux meets the Rhone. Tasting the 2008 you could really sense two different elements, on one side you have the classic Cabernet Sauvignon characteristic and on the other side those wonderfully spicy characteristics you find in Syrah.

We were also lucky enough to see how these wines evolve, the 2004 was still vibrant and fresh but had lovely crisp red fruits and the 2000 was now showing signs of maturity. It had taken on those developed secondary flavours that you find in great wines. I think Domaine de Trevallon is one of the most unique but classic wines I have tasted. It really is one of the most fascinating wines.