Here are three picks from the crop of the Autumn 2011 edition of the Independent Winemakers’ Expo (Salon des Vignerons Indépendents), Paris 23-28 November.
Domaine du Grand Arc (Corbières, Languedoc)
Recently, we opened another Aux temps d’histoire 2007 and were as entranced as ever by this century old carignan bin, so we decided to pay a visit to Mr Schenck’s stand to sample his latest creations. Although the 2009 proves to be not quite as intense as the exceptional 2007 vintage*, this edition of Aux temps d’histoire is suave, the notes lingering in the mouth to deliver the force of guarrigue, cocoa, and dark berry jam in successive layers. Cuvée des quarante, a predominantely carignan blend with a mix a grenache and syrah, is another favourite from the winery, and great value for money. 2009 oozes spices and liquorice with a silky smooth tanin structure.
But the true discovery of this year’s tasting was Six terres siennes. This bin is the fruit of Schenk’s search for excellence, undeniably successful in the 2007 bin we sampled. Predominantly structured around syrah, blended with carignan and grenache, this is a dense, complex wine, perfectly balanced with a lovely acidity. It has the nobility and lofty distinction of the nearby Queribus castle, and comes with a booklet penned poetically by Schenk. A real reflection of terroir: that is, an expressive blend of the land, the traditions, and the winemaker himself.
*2007 was an execeptional vintage year in Corbières and across the Languedoc region more generally.
Domaine de la Coste (Saint Christol, Languedoc)
For those who savour the exuberance a syrah from Languedoc can yield – that is, wild, beasty, meaty, furry, leathery scents, combined with the spices and guarrigue typical of the Mediterranean – the Cuvée Prestige from Domaine de la Coste is for you. I’ve often delighted in the outstanding 2001 vintage from this vineyard, and so, upon spotting the most impressive moustache of the Salon, I decided to have another sip of Mr Moynier’s wares. Up for tasting were the 2008 and 2009 bins of Cuvée Prestige, a long-standing favourite of the Taillevent restaurant, where it is served with game. It once again proved to be a pleasurable drop, especially as Moynier’s down to earth, true to the soil – an exceptional patch of shingle and slate – vinification methods gives rise to the minerality which makes this red so recognizable in a blindfold test. Both vintages came out very well. And they’re great value for money too.
Domaine de la Bergerie (Savennières, Anjou, Côteaux du Layon)
At one point in the Salon, having lost my way amongst the rows and rows of stands, I stopped at the closest one to consult the Salon’s guidebook. Mr Guégniard of Domaine de la Bergerie obliged, and, after raising my eyes to the stand’s appelation on its little sign, I decided to try his Savennières. In truth, my curiosity had been piqued by the words “Clos le Beaupréau“, an outstanding terroir in the Savannières appelation which is familiar to me thanks to Vincent Ogerau, a top producer of Côteau-du-Layon and red and white Anjou and a long-standing favourite of mine. Clos le Beaupréau is near Coulée de Serrant and la Roche aux Moines, and comprises sandstone, slate and volcanic sand, and Ogerau shares it, I learned, with Mr Guégniard.
If only all lost sheep were found by a shepherd like this one: Mr Guégniard’s whites are impressive and alluring. The difference in vinification methods is really what differenciates his two Savennières. While the “Grand Beaupréau” is fermented and matured in oak barrels, “La Croix Picot” is fermented and aged in an innox vat. The 2009 and 2010 vintages of “Grand Beaupréau” were on offer, and both are excellent. The opulence of 2009 will doubtless be tamed with a few years of aging. The unique minerality of the terroir is evident in both, particularly in the lightly smoky aromas. Traditional fruit flavours such as quince and almond persist in a long mouth, balanced by savoury acidity. The lack of wood has certainly enchanced the fruity expression of “La Croix Picot“, and liquorice, citrus and toasted notes also linger in the mouth thanks to its perfect acidity. The less prestigious terroir is hardly felt on the palate at this age, as this bin is just as pleasurable as its Beaupréau sister. Which makes it hard to chose a favourite.
Of this vineyard’s other whites, the entry-level range of Anjou deserves a mention. The generous maturity of the vineyard’s 2010 harvest has produced a lovely wine with an intensely yellow colour, exhaling peachy, almondy and white floral fragrances. Great value for money at €7 a bottle. The sweet Côteaux-du Layon wines, charactarized by the same high standards, are remarkable for their drinkability, as the residual sugar is not excessive even in the 2009.
A strong incentive to taste the reds next time.
Although the tasting was a joint effort, this review is signed by my wine side-kick P, who collaborates on all wine posts that appear on tablefables. Many thanks to him!