(2018) It's a full seven years since I last tasted this wine, when it was a relatively youthful three-year-old and scored 91/100. Now, with a decade under its belt, the blend of 38% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Macabeu, 19% Vermentino and a handful of other varieties shows a slightly deeper colour and has a lightly sherried aspect on the nose, but still intense apricot and creamy, oatmeally character, the large, old oak barrels used for fermentation and ageing just adding to that. In the mouth a touch of bruised apple, but there is still real fruit sweetness there, allied to a citrus peel acidity and touch of phenolic grippiness, that gives structure and length. Drinking well, it is showing a little age, but hard to say where it will go from here.
(2018) A blend of Grenache and Syrah made in stainless steel, this is all about the dense and deep black cherry and clove-infused plum compote fruit on the nose, moving smoothly through to the palate where a very nice axis of creamy but firm tannin and juicy cherry-skin acidity cuts through the creamy ripeness of the fruit. Tangy, quite spicy and long, the palate has it's serious side for sure with the extraction nicely judged to give a bit of real grip.
(2018) Syrah and Grenache with a touch of Mourvèdre, this cuvée comes from the Terrasses du Larzac appellation in the Languedoc and is aged in oak barrels. Dark and saturated, meatiness, a touch of sizzling bacon fat, is added to the plummy dark fruit. In the moouth the sweet ripeness of the fruit impresses, a flood of bittersweet cherry and blueberry, the oak adding just a sheen of smokiness and roundness to what remains an essentially fruit-driven (and delicious) wine.
(2018) Also from the Terrasses du Larzac's clay and limestone soils, a blend of 20-year-old Syrah and Grenache with just 2% Mourvèdre, this cuvée vinified in stainless steel. Crushed raspberry notes add lift to the black fruits here, a hint of camphor, of leafy twigs, all quite different from the Velour cuvée aromatically. In the mouth the two draw closer, as the meaty substance of the ripe fruit darkens the picture, but there's a dimension of juiciness, traded against the smoothing breadth of the Velours, that makes this equally appealing. Is the alcohol a touch more prominent in this differently structured wine? Maybe, but for me it retains balance and even some elegance.
(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.
(2018) From the Languedoc, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Merlot and Mourvèdre in the mix for a medium-pale rosé, with a fairly simple and straightforward strawberry and raspberry fruit, the palate fruity and generous, a little briary leafiness and a slightly astringent quality to the acidity stopping it a little short, but keeping it fresh.
(2018) Though the name of the estate sounds like a not so subtle cash-in on Provence, in fact domaine de la Provenquière traces its history back almost 500 years in it's corner of the Languedoc close to Béziers. Having said that, this certainly has Provençal leanings, pale in colour, dry and fresh with only 12% alcohol, though made from the pink-skinned Pinot Gris rather than Provençal varieties. Summer berries, fragrant lemon peel and a little wisp of peach on the nose, then a dry, chalky palate with pleasingly sweet fruit, medium body and then plenty of tangy acid. Daily Drinker club members will pay £9.00 for this.
(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.
(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.