2007 CHATEAU LA DOURNIE, SAINT-CHINIAN
I know that science says that wine can’t taste of its soil, because there’s no transfer of minerals and flavour compounds from soil to root to grape to wine – but Saint-Chinian grown on schist can have an extraordinarily intense, ‘stony’ smell and taste, in some cases reminiscent of the fresh smell of stones and earth after rain. I love it - and this wine, a syrah-dominant blend with some carignan and grenache. As well as the stony character, there’s sweet redcurrant fruit, black pepper and black olive flavours and a gentle nuttiness (13.5% alcohol). The estate has been handed down in the Etienne family from mother to daughter for six generations and the current incumbernt, Véronique, also makes a very good, more expensive red, called Elise, which comes from a specific plot and is partly aged in new oak barrels, and a rosé - also highly recommended. The importer is Indigo Wine.
£9.25, The Grape Shop, 020 7924 3638; £10, Dégustation, 020 8691 0857.
2006 MAS DES DAMES, LA DAME, COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC
Another red Languedoc, another female winemaker. Let me explain. There’s a women winemakers group in Languedoc, called Vinifilles, and I tasted some of their wines recently and was impressed (the Picpoul de Pinet, one of my Wines of the Week on 3 July, is another). Back to the 2006 La Dame. This comes from just outside Saint-Chinian and is blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah (50:30:20). It’s medium-full (13% alcohol), warm, ripe, spicy and earthy, with a lovely freshness of berry fruit, hints of graphite, olive and chocolate and a velvety texture.
£7.75, Berry Bros & Rudd
2008 TASTE THE DIFFERENCE POUILLY-FUME
The first sip of any Pouilly Fumé should make you sit up. If it doesn’t, I reckon it’s not doing it’s job. No fears here on that score. This has a stirringly intense elderflower and goosberry nose, a good depth of spicy, grassy, green fruit on the palate and refreshing, mineral length (12.5% alcohol).