(2018) Carignan is a variety of the South of French that has mostly played a supporting role, blended with the star grapes, Syrah or Grenache. But there's a growing band of enthusiastic winemakers using some wonderful old vines to make terrific Carignans, and it is developing something of a cult folowing. This, made by a Kiwi flying winemaker, has a wonderfully aromatic, brightly-hued nose, all punchy red fruits like cherry and even raspberry, a touch of root beer, before a silky palate crammed with sweet berries, a touch of bittersweet dark chocolate adding depth and savoury notes.
(2016) Made from 50-year-old Carignan vineyards in the Languedoc, this taut, black-fruited wine has some spice and some intense, plum-skinny aromas, a little note of coal dust and an altogether inky personality. In the mouth the natural liquorice concentration of these old, unirrigated bush vines is at the core of this wine, grippy with tannin and with plenty of acid bite, but the juicy, intense and really quite ripe black fruit is there too. A chewy and slightly rustic southern French red, crying out for some cassoulet or maybe confit duck.
(2016) I note that one of Vintage Roots' customers describes this as "enjoyably rustic," which is an excellent two-word summary. Vinous, cherry and red plum, medium bodied but good fruit and concentration. A fine little organic Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot and Syrah blend, and très useful.
(2016) The South of France is an area full of wonderful old vines, so it’s good to see those being celebrated in a wine such as this that brims with juicy black fruit, etched with floral notes and a touch of chocolate or liquorice. In the mouth it overflows with straightforward but delcious black fruit altertness, juicy and fresh, tingling with black cherry skin brightness to the last drop. Watch my Wine of the Week video for my full review, including much more detail and food matching suggestions. £7.65 for members, the Daily Drinker.
(2015) This wine was a 'Wine of the Week' over three years ago, when an earlier vintage scooped a top trophy at one of the major UK wine competitions. This 2013 also won 'silver', but my main reason for choosing it is a) that it is a lovely little wine, and b) that it's currently on offer with a handy £1 off. Made in the Languedoc from one of the local grape varieties, Mourvèdre, it is an unoaked wine that overflows with cherry and buoyant raspberry fruit. On the palate that creamy, fleshy fruit fills the mouth, developing a touch of chocolate and spice, but all the time crunchy and fresh with an easy, but balanced and savoury dry finish. Watch the video for my full review and for specific food matching suggestions. It's £6.49 on offer until 24th November 2015, normally £7.49.
(2015) This Languedoc red is a blend of organic Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, a juicy cherry and bright summer berry-filled red with quite a velvety appeal. In the mouth it is medium-bodied, the 13% alcohol moderate and the gentle framework of fine, creamy tannins and fairly gentle acidity adding to the easy-drinking charms. It is a charmer, but has enough structure for red meats too.
(2015) A long-term project of Jean-Claude Mas, this is a 'no sdded sulphur' organic wine, with sulphur not used during the winemaking process. It's a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from the Languedoc. Inky purple/black in colour it is very primary, with bold raspberry and bright cherry and plum fruit, a touch of watercolour paintbox lift, and a background of spice. Totally convincing on the palate, where a dry, quite solid black fruit drives the wine, a nicely roughening, brisk edge of tannin and the juicy acid character of cherry and plum skins adds an edge to the plush fruit, with a little chocolate fleshing out the finish. An impressive no sulphur wine.
(2015) Sneaking in under £8.00, this wine from one of the Languedoc's top appellations is a typical blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. Saturated and dark, the nose has buoyancy and a fine peppery lift, tight black fruit aromas lightened by that pepper and spice. In the mouth it is quite substantial and has an authentic and pleasing rustic grip to the tannins, liquorice and leather meld with sweeter black berries, before a long plummy finish with a rasp of tannin and acid. Very nice.
(2015) An oak-aged blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, from selected vineyard plots, this has a dramatically dark colour and immediate meatiness, earthiness and savoury density on the nose. On the palate a real juiciness of red berries emerges, coated in a smoothing, vanilla-touched coating of the barrels, but all given lovely tension by a tight, plum-skin tannin roughness, juicy acids and a tobacco and spice note.
(2014) A recent Decanter Regional Trophy Winner, this is a wine I made my "Wine of the Week" back in summer 2012 (see my video review) and it's another Grenache/Syrah blend, this time from the hills of Corbières. Made by the Sichel family of Bordeaux fame, this is quite a different take, and much more cedary and savoury now with five years under its belt. Tobacco and hints of game join the solid blackcurrant and plummy fruit. There is a gravelly depth to the wine on the palate, spices and earthy tones playing against the fruit. Drinking beautifully and finishing with a chunky hit of tannin and lovely balance, it has cellaring potential still too.
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