Christmas deadlines seem to have taken over and I’ve neglected my blog for the last week or three - apologies – I’m not sure where the days have gone, which is a pretty feeble excuse. But with the grey dank weather in London this morning, my thoughts turned to Languedoc sunshine. Earlier in the month I was invited by the Solicitors’ Wine Society to help with a tasting of the wines from Mas Gabriel. Those of you who read my blog with any regularity will know that Mas Gabriel is one of my favourite local estates and this tasting provided a great overview of their wines since their very first vintage in 2006. Deborah Core was a solicitor in a former life, so it was only fitting that she should present her wines to the solicitors.
The prices given below are those of specialist Languedoc importer Terroirs du Languedoc
2010 Les Fleurs Sauvages Rosé - IGP Hérault - £11.50
A blend of Carignan and Cinsaut with 10% Grenache, made from pressed grapes. Light colour. Quite a rounded nose with a hint of strawberry and raspberry fruit. Quite a firm palate, with a streak of tannin and acidity, and balanced with a nicely vinous ripe finish. What I would call a food rosé – bring on the salade niçoise.
2010 Clos des Papillons Blanc IGP Hérault - £14.95
A great example of the revival of a lost white variety, Carignan Blanc. A little colour. Quite a perfumed herbal nose, with some intriguing fruit, length and depth on the palate. Lots of nuances. And there is a reason why Carignan Blanc performs so well in the Midi – its high level of acidity, so that it retains its freshness and does not develop the flabbiness of some northern varieties in the south.
Next came a mini vertical of Les Trois Terrasses, IGP Hérault – their pure Carignan
2010 – A vat sample. Very deep young colour. Firm mineral nose and quite closed. And on the palate, ripe black berry fruit; ripe and rounded with the rustic streak of Carignan. The blend includes one third of carbonic maceration, which softens the sometimes harsh tannins of Carignan. Peter and Deborah like to try something new each vintage.
2009 - £11.95
Deep young colour; firm and youthful on the nose. Quite a ripe dense palate, with more tannins than in the 2010. That may be a reflection of the vintage conditions, and also the vinification, as there is no maceration carbonic in this wine.
Good young colour. Quite a closed nose. The wine is beginning to develop, some cedary hints, with some berry fruit. Nicely balanced, with an attractive rustic, tannic streak. Really quite elegant, especially for a Carignan. Fermented in a concrete tank, so not a hint of oak anywhere.
2006 Mas Gabriel, Coteaux du Languedoc
A blend of 63% Carignan, 28% Syrah and 9% Grenache. Their very first wine. Quite a deep colour; some oak on the nose. The palate is quite firm and tannic, dense and solid, and quite extracted, with what I call furry tannins. For a first vinification from vineyards that they did not know, it is pretty good, but it also shows how much Peter and Deborah’s winemaking has improved in subsequent vintages, as they got to know their vineyards and with more experience of the conditions of the Midi.
2008 Clos des Lièvres, Pézenas - £12.50
60% Syrah with 20% each of Grenache and Carignan. Deep colour. Quite a closed firm nose. Good fruit. Quite dense and rounded on the palate with a firm ripe streak of tannin. Youthful. Needs time to develop.
Clos des Lièvres 2009, Pézenas
A traditional fermentation. The same blend as the 2008. In 2010 the blend is Syrah with Grenache and no Carignan, which went into Les Trois Terrasses Good colour. A more elegant nose, with some berry fruit. Quite rounded and brambly, quite rich with a tannic streak. In fact, absolutely delicious and a great finale to the tasting.