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(2018) Here we have 98% Syrah, from 35-year-old vines in Montpeyroux, harvested at just 20hl/ha - a very, very low yield and only 6,000 bottles produced. This cuvée spends eight months in oak barrels from Nièvre. Another densely-hued wine, the ramping up of concentration is noticeable immediately, dark, tightly-wound aromas of damson plum, peppercorn and liquorice, muscular and dense, but with a glimpse of brighter raspberry and violet, a wisp of curling bonfire smoke. Super stuff in the mouth: such a beautifully slick but firm and grippy, youthful palate, etched by its acidity and tannin framework, but the effortless concentration of fruit suggesting significant ageing potential too.
(2018) "Almost 100% Syrah," according to the back label, this comes from 60-year-old vines planted clay-limestone soils. Again the yield is tiny, and the wine was vinified in new Alliers oak. Côte Dorée is a special selection and limited release, and though this 2011 is currently unavailable from Ten Acre Wines, the 2013 is listed at £19.95. If the Côte Rousse is dark, deep and sensuous, then at seven years of age this is all that and more: a deep pool of polished black fruits and spices, again we have that tiny lift of pepper and floral character, but it's a hugely tightly-wound wine that needs a little air and/or a little time. In the mouth the age has softened the edges, but still this is a concentrated, ripe but bittersweet melange of black fruits, savoury meatiness, and tangy cherry skin acidity that keeps the finish fresh and lip-tingling. A huge wine in its way, but with 13.5% alcohol and perfect balance, deeply impressive. The Rousse has a little more light and shade, this is a walk further into the dark side.
(2011) The red blend for 2008 is 55% Carignan, 35% Syrah and 10% Grenache Noir and the wine is aged for 18 months in demi-muids - large, 600-litre barrels. It has a very fresh, crimson colour and a delightful nose, the ripe summer berry fruit aromas melding with touches of smokiness and tobacco, and an almost imperceptible gamey nuance. On the palate it is quite a substantial wine. Medium- to full-bodied and with a creamy texture, 14% alcohol perhaps adds to the slippery texture, and there's a taut spine of tannin and acidity at the core. But the fruit - sweet, but tight and a little lighter than the 2008 - is sharp and focused into the long, lightly-spiced finish.
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