Friday, May 20, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 20 May 2011

22 May: as I have a stockist for it, I’m adding another wine today – a delicious sweet white from the south west.

2006 Vignobles Brumont Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl Vendémiaire, France

This concentrated and complex sweet white is made entirely from petit manseng grapes picked at the end of October and is thus the earliest harvested of Alain Brumont’s three sweet wines. It’s fermented in new oak and aged on its lees for over a year and the result is intense and richly fruity with dried-fruit aromas, honey and spice, vivid fresh fruit flavours of quince, apricot and lychee and piercing acidity. There’s even a hint of truffly richness. 13% abv. Drink with tarte au citron, apple tart, orange and almond cake, honey and lavender cake, crème brûlée, Roquefort-type blue cheeses, foie gras…

£14.31 for 50cl, The Sampler

I wanted to recommend dry whites from south west France – wines that were among the 77 selected by The Wine Gang in a blind tasting for the generic organisation South West France Wines and which were shown at the London International Wine Fair this week – but I haven’t yet found UK retail stockists for the ones I was going to write about. It’s largely a question of vintages. We tasted the latest releases; wine merchants tend to be on previous vintages of the more serious dry whites, which makes sense because they have the kind of concentration of fruit and acidity to age. Adnams, for example, has two cracking white Saint-Monts, Le Faite and L’Empreinte, but not the vintages I’ve just tasted, and I’ve found stockists for Alain Brumont’s two dry Pacherencs du Vic-Bihl but not the relevant vintages. I’m on the case, because these south west dry whites really deserve to be better known. In the meantime, after that lengthy preamble, here are a couple of the reds.

2009 Domaine Laurens Marcillac, France

A supple, fleshy red with sweet-berry fruit and the authentic, spicy, earthy-mineral flavour and herbal freshness of Marcillac. The grape variety is fer servadou, known locally as mansois and elsewhere in the southwest as both braucol and pinenc, and the vineyards are on steep, terraced slopes with the extraordinarily dark red soils, iron rich soils, of this part of the Aveyron. The entire appellation is only 170 ha. Marcillac is wonderfully food friendly. I wish we saw more of it (The Wine Society and Caves de Pyrène have the excellent Domaine du Cros). 12.5% abv

£9.10, Vine Trail

2008 Château de Crouseilles Madiran ‘Premium’, France

As authentic a Madiran as the Domaine Laurens is a Marcillac. Dark, young, full-bodied, with dense cherryish fruit, dark chocolate, kirsch, tapenade and licorice flavours, savoury oak and solid tannins. Drink with meaty food over the next four years. 14% abv. Caves de Crouseilles is part of the admirable Plaimont group.

£13.99, Nicolas