(2019) Picpoul may be relatively unknown when compared with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, but over the past few years it has come from nowhere to be something of a crowd-pleasing favourite. This is typical in many ways, relatively simple and upfront, down-the-line easy to drink but fresh fruit - pear and lemon - and balance on the palate with a bit of concentration and texture, and fine acidity to set off fish and seafood. It's actually a very good, quite concentrated example, of a variety that tends to deliver very good wine without any real fireworks. £10.35 to Daily Drinker Club members.
(2019) Made for Majestic by James Kinglake of Domaine Begude, a domaine in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. Limoux majors on Chardonnay, both still and sparkling, and I guess some or most of the fruit comes from Limoux, but in fact this is an IGP Pays d'Oc, so some or all could have come from a wider area around. Fresh and unoaked, but limpid and with a creamy richness from lees ageing, this has a lightly buttery character but lovely balance and pitch, citrus and crisp apple against lightly nutty tones and always hints of a more exotic fruit ripeness. The finish is restrained and clear as a bell, in a stylish wine that is £8.99 as part of a mixed six bottles at Majestic.
(2018) Marsanne is a traditional grape of the Rhône Valley in France, though it is relatively rare to see it bottled as a single varietal wine. This example from Paul Mas's 'La Forge' vineyard in the Languedoc is truly lovely, perhaps picked just a little earlier than some to retain it agility and freshness. What a beguiling nose, a bowlful of ripe pears and peaches, tiny Riesling-like floral and wax nuances, and a hint of oatmeal and almond from partial barrel ageing. Round, succulent and fleshy-fruity on the palate, there is texture and a little spice and toast, but it's clean as a whistle into the finish. Lovely on its own, but could take everything from Chinese food to white fish in its stride. £8.99 in Majestic on a mixed-six deal at time of review. Watch the video for more information.
(2017) The white wines of the Rhône Valley in France tend to be big and powerful, full and expressive grapes like Roussanne and Viognier delivering quite heady wines. Here in the Languedoc Paul Mas has blended those with the local Vermentino and Grenache Blanc, part barrel-fermented, to produce a similarly generous style. Aromas of vanilla, honeysuckle and peach lead on to a full, broad palate that is all about super-sweet and plush, fleshy fruit married to a rounded, background acidity that makes this quite fat and feel quite low in acid, but there is a core of steel in there, the sweet hint of the barrel also adding a layer of complexity. The price is £12.99 as part of a mixed six from Majestic.
(2016) From the Co-op behind the Sieur d'Arques brand, this Chardonnay shows a little age to the colour, and quite a lot of oak. There's a chance this sample is not perfect, for what's in the glass feels fruity, oaky, but just a little tired. I'd reserve judgement until tasting again.
(2015) The single vineyard for this wine is located in the western Languedoc, at between 400m and 500m above sea level, on limestone and clay which is claimed to produce ripening conditions similar to those in Chablis ( where Laroche is based, though in fact Michel Laroche is no longer in charge and the brand is now part of a larger company). It seems heavily oak influenced to me however, and quite un-Chablis-like, with toast and vanilla and touches of tropical fruit. In the mouth it does have a juicy, lively character, again the fruit teeters on the pineapple and tropical, with a touch of baked apple pie, but acidity is refreshing. 87
(2012) Jean-Claude Mas purchased Château Crès Ricards in 2010, a 28-hectare estate in the Coteaux du Languedoc planted in the 1960s. This is a blend of Vermentino (Rolle) and Roussanne with smaller amounts of Grenache and Viognier, fermented and partly-aged in oak barrels. The nose has a honeyed, buttery toastiness with melon and orchard fruits, just a hint of something peachy and floral coming through. The palate shows a toasty streak from the barrels too and is very young, and the cool precision of the fruit, with pithy lemon and stone-fruit, yellow plum flavours wins out, the good, stony acidity sharpening up the finish too. Quite a steely young wine, this should cellar for a few years.
(2010) A blend of 90% Marsanne and 10% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Smoky notes, but a lovely apricot fruit too. A certain floral edge from the Muscat. Brisk on the palate, lots of crunch and bone dry acidity, the palate staying focused with a certain lean, taut appeal. Needs food, but lip-smacking and delicious.
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