Friday, August 6, 2010
A pale straw color. Smells like a vegetable stew in a rich tomato sauce, laced with creme--perhaps with a squeeze of lime in it--which is perhaps an odd thing for a white wine to smell like, but it works. Perhaps it would be better to say "stewed tomatoes and lime," but this immediately reminded me of a wonderful rabbit stew recipe from Paul Bocuse that comes in a vegetable-rich tomato-based sauce and is meant to be served with a dollop of cream in it. Later it began to smell of honey with a hint of roasted meat.
At first, the wine seems delicate on the palate--mostly just clean and crisp--but the initial acidity falls away quickly to reveal a solid core of fruit, tending toward pears and citrus, and there's even a hint of tannin. Good length. A white wine with grip. A wave of subtler acidity comes back on the extended finish, with little bursts of grapefruit-like flavors on the very end. This is a delicious blend of Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, and Marsanne. Delightful. A bargain at about €5 a bottle (less than $6 a bottle). Why can't California wineries produce delicious wines like this at prices like this? A wine of this caliber in California would typically sell in the $17-$24 range--three to four times as much.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
review here). Both are excellent. I picked up a few bottles to leave for the owner of the house here and a couple bottles of the white, which is a tasty blend of Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, and Marsanne.
I wish it were easier to find the appropriate credits for photos like these....
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
2009 Château St. Martin des Champs Saint Chinian Rosé
A pale to medium-deep, orange-tinged pink. Attractive nose suggestive of hawthorne blossoms, crème brulée, and (distantly) plums. Having said that, none of the scents jump out at you. Still, the overall impression is fresh and inviting. Initially seems rather tart on the palate, but has presence. Good, plummy fruit sweetness offsets the acidity. Good length, and the lingering fruit ultimately makes the wine seem harmonious. Very tasty. Clean, fresh, delicious wine. Priced at €5.30 a bottle.
2008 Cave de Roquebrun Saint Chinian Rosé "Col de Lairole"
Comparatively deep in color--the second-deepest of these four wines. A medium-deep orange-pink. Very pretty to look at in a chilled glass. Complex nose. Something floral, but something that reminded me of vegetables as well--in a good way. Fresh, raw beans. Pie crust scents as well. Somewhat softer than the first wine (that is, less acidic), but with a nice "bite" suggestive of a little tannin. Refreshing strawberry fruitiness and a tasty hint of bitterness on the finish. Seems a bit rustic compared with the wine above, but another delicious summer wine, and attractively priced at only €4.16 a bottle.
2009 Domaine La Maurine Rouge Saint Chinian Rosé
The palest in color of these four wines, tending more toward pink than orange. Interesting petroleum-like scent, reminiscent of certain Riesling wines. Rose water. A hint of gooseberries and passion fruit. Rather interesting nose. Quite rich with intense, fruity sweetness on the palate (although the wine is quite dry). Suggests red raspberries and roses. Passion fruit again on the palate as well. A hint of tannin. Moderately long, prickly, fruity finish. Enough acidity to balance the fruit, but softer than many of the rosés I've been tasting. Overall, very refreshing and enjoyable, if not profound. €5.30 a bottle.
2008 Cave de Roquebrun Saint Chinian Rosé "Terrasses de Cabrio"
Deepest in color of the four wines--looking almost like brandy--but with pink undertones. A very pretty wine to look at. Surprisingly distant on the nose. Something doughy at first. Later developed toasted, roasted scents. Pastry. Sweet potato pie. Drier, less fruity, and softer than some of the other wines, and shorter as well, despite the deep color, but with a little time, this opens up to seem richer and fuller--and these are all relative terms. Another tasty Saint Chinian rosé. Priced at €6.04 a bottle, perhaps not the best value of the bunch, but even that is cheap by US standards. You'd be hard-pressed to find a California rosé as good at this price point (about $7.00).
Monday, August 2, 2010
2009 Domaine Moulin de Lène, Alphonse de Lène Rosé
A very pale pink blend of Cinsault and Grenache, this is a Vin de Pays d'Oc. Very pale, indeed. At certain angles and in the right light, it would be hard to tell it from water. Rather neutral on the nose but with some earthy scents. Something metallic about the nose as well. Not very forthcoming, but not unpleasant. Medium body on the palate. Fairly good length. Tart, fresh, and drinkable, but ultimately thin and not very distinctive. Inexpensive at only €3.6 a bottle. This was not especially interesting, but it turned out to be one of the better wines of the bunch.
2008 Domaine de la Reynardière Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Murviel Rosé
A pretty, medium orange-pink. The color was this wine's most attractive attribute. I don't know what went wrong here, but it took courage to taste this after smelling it. It had a strange, fishy nose. It reminded me of slime at the bottom of a pond. I can think of nothing else to describe it. The smell persisted. It didn't seem to be the fleeting, temporary stink some bottles have. The wine tasted better than it smelled. It had fairly good body and length, but was rather sharp and there was something of the smell of the wine in the taste. I didn't, however, get the impression this was spoiled. €2.89 a bottle. No indication of what grapes it was made from. I kept the wine. Remarkably, tasting it the following day (today), the stink was completely gone. The wine had very attractive strawberry scents and it was delicious, also tasting like ripe strawberries. It accompanied pasta with lunch. In the end, I liked this wine best of the four. What's going on here? Hmmm.....
2009 Domaine Saint Martin des Champs Vin de Pays d'Oc Cabernet Rosé
Another reason I wanted to taste the wines blind was that one of the four, this one, was a Cabernet rosé. I was curious to know whether it would stand out. Another pale orange-pink wine, but deeper in color than many. Fairly neutral on the nose, but with hints of something grassy--like a Sauvignon Blanc--, which gave this away as the Cabernet wine. Watermelon, and something metallic on the nose, too. On the palate, it came across as simply light, tart, and refreshing but without any particularly defining characteristics. Not at all unpleasant, but not distinctive. €3.60 a bottle.
2009 Cave de Roquebrun Vin de Pays de la Haute Vallée de l'Orb "Terres d'Orb" Rosé
Another wine from the Cave de Roquebrun, which has made some of the best wines from the immediate area that I've tasted so far. This is the gold medal winner. Medium to pale orange pink. Attractive caramel and straw scents, later it began to smell like fresh cucumber. Fuller and with more body than the other wines. Also softer--with less of the sharp acidity that seems to characterize the most ordinary rosés of the region (especially those made from Cinsault, it seems). This wine is 35% Carignan, 25% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, and 15% Syrah. All that sounds promising, but the wine had little flavor to speak of. It came across as fairly alcoholic and tart. €3.10 a bottle.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
The caves were downright cold--bring warm clothing. It was interesting to see the fleurines, the underground air passages that move cool air through the network of caves that formed here about 200 million years ago, when an entire mountain (the Combalou) collapsed, leaving a huge pile of rock riddled with holes. Air moving underground through the tunnels and caves is used to maintain the temperatures required to mature the cheese. The tours were a bit disappointing actually, as you can't see any of the activities that lead up to the formation of the "loaves" of cheese (just the maturation caves), but it was interesting nevertheless. The best advertised tour is at Société. It costs €3.5 a person, but the free tour at Papillon was as informative and shorter, without the various multi-media sections of the Société tour--which was a good thing. Having said that, I preferred the cheese at Société for its exceptionally creamy texture, and one fancy section of the tour does show clearly how the caves formed using a large animated model. Both tours were in French only, but detailed explanations are provided in print in English and a number of other languages.