AN INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE: LANGUEDOC VS. SOUTH
World Service Restaurant, Nottingham
9th June 2006
The challenge was set on the UK Wine-Pages.com Wine
Forum: Keith Prothero, staunch advocate of South African
had set the bait for
importer and retailer, primarily of wines from the
Languedoc and Roussillon, and Leon had taken the bait.
Which would we prefer if we didn't know which was which:
South African or Languedoc?
A price per bottle limit of £15 had been agreed and the
protagonist and the deuteragonist had agreed an order
and a paired each South African with a Languedoc wine.
To recognise the generosity of Keith and Leon, the
participants donated the equivalent of the price of a
bottle that would have brought to a wine evening like
this to the very worthy South African charity, the
Project, which supports children with special
educational needs, particularly those whose lives are
affected by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, in the
Western Cape of South Africa.
The first 24 wines were served (blind) upstairs in the
members' lounge at World Service and a vote was taken on
each pair. Unfortunately, I lost track of the final
votes for each pair after a while, or it might be that
the returning officers stopped announcing the results.
N.V. Domaine Rosier, AC Blanquette de Limoux Brut,
Pale straw. Crisp nose somewhat (though in a nice
way) reminiscent of stale custard with floral
scents. Very fresh, slightly sweet with some apples.
The bubbles fade rather quickly. My guess would be
that it's a blanquette de limoux. Very Good/Very
This received 8 votes out of 14.
1993 Mount Methode Cap Classique Cuvée Brut Disa,
Twee Jonge Gezellen, W.O. Coastal Region
A deep, rich gold. Big nose - sweet, slightly
oxidised, biscuity. Clearly this has more age than
the first: if that was a blanquette de Limoux, this
must be a cap classique. Full and attractive on the
palate. Very Good Indeed.
This got my vote, but that wasn't a majority view,
as it only got 6 out of 14 votes.
and moving on (with increasing speed as the pairs went
by and people got hungry)
2005 The Foundry Viognier, Stellenbosch,
A pale to mid gold. Rich marzipanny nose with pears
and peaches. Rich and very full on the palate: quite
bold and striking. Very long. Feels very much like
viognier to me. Very Good Indeed.
This got my vote and was a clear winner with a total
of 11 out of 14 votes.
N.V. Cuvée du 11 Novembre 1918, Domaine de la
Colombette, Vin de Pays des Côteaux du Libron
A rather austere, minerally nose with green fruits.
Very crisp palate. I have a feeling that this might
be quite good and other different circumstances I'd
really enjoy it. But tonight it's being really
bullied by the Foundry Viognier until it's cowering
in the corner; it feels a bit thin and watery in
comparison. Difficult to rate this one in comparison
to The Foundry.
2005 Sauvignon Blanc Les Côteaux de Neffiès,
Celliers des Neuf Fiefs, Vin de Pays d'Oc , 12%
Pale straw. A very straightforward nose that quickly
opens up. A touch buttery and floral. Possibly a
sauvignon blanc-chardonnay blend? Seems very
straightforward, very warm climate sauvignon. Very
This got 10 out of 14 votes, but mine was not one of
them: I didn't really get it, and if I want
sauvignon blanc, then the Fryers Cove gave it me in
2005 Fryer's Cove Sauvignon Blanc, Wine of Origin
Bamboes Bay, 13.5%
This is a lovely, pure, very classic sauvignon blanc
with green peas and asparagus on the nose. The
mometary thought flitted across my mind that this
might be a NZ ringer. Crisp and very full on the
palate, but with a nice minerality and very good
acidity. Marred a tad by a touch of sulphur on the
nose, though in normal circumstances (i.e. with more
than 45 seconds to taste, assess and make notes!) I'd expect that to blow off quickly. This seems to
me much more a better expression of the sauvignon
grape than the Neuf-Fiefs. Very Good Indeed.
Few agreed with me, though, and this only got 4 out
of 14 votes.
2004 Chardonnay Demi Muid, Domaine de la
Colombette, Vin de Pays des Côteaux du Libron ,
A simple, tropical buttery nose that must be
chardonnay. Fresh fragrant palate with good balance.
This got 10 out 14 votes, though I didn't find that
much to impress me.
2003 Vergelegen Vergelegen White, Stellenbosch,
A smoky, oaky nose with buttery (actually slightly
rancid butter) melony fruit. Very attractive palate
with big melony fruit and lots of interest.
Chardonnay, but not entirely so, I think. Lots of
oak - a bit too much - on the finish. Very Good
This got 4 votes out of 14.
2004 Pinot Noir Demi Muid, Domaine de la
Colombette, Vin de Pays des Côteaux du Libron,
A fairly youthful, rich ruby colour. Plummy ripe
young nose with a green edge. I'd guess that this
was a pleasant, fairly young syrah from the
Languedoc. Quite sweet fruit on the palate. Simple,
but enjoyable. Goodish.
This got 8 out of 15 votes.
2001 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, Walker Bay,
A darkish, murky garnet. Smoky, tarry, medicinal
nose that's not entirely pleasant. Big, full palate.
Quite hot and a touch metallic. Big and very full
and really rather unsatisfying. I don't think I'd
every have guessed this was pinot noir in a thousand
years. Not much to recommend it. OK.
Surprisingly, this got 7 out of 15 votes, but the
Colombette Pinot Noir it was up against was equally
2001 La robe de pourpre, Domaine D'Archimbaud, AC
Coteaux du Languedoc, 13%
A blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5%
A very attractive nose - sweet and perfumed with
hints of chocolate. Fresh and very young. And very
tannic. Quite hot. Good+
I preferred this to the Thelema Cab Sauv, though
there wasn't much in it, and it received only 4/14
1999 Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch
An undistinguished murky garnet appearance. Very
fragrant, oddly bubblegummy, floral blackcurrant
nose. Ripe and a bit sweet on the palate. Rather
This garnered 10/14 votes, but not mine.
1999 Morgenhof Premiere Selection, Stellenbosch
65% cabernet sauvignon; 20% merlot; 10% cabernet
franc; 5% malbec
A weedy twiggy nose. I think this is corked. Others
disagree. Tastes the same as it smells. Corked. Not
2001 A de Neffiez, Les Vignerons Réunis de
Neffies, AC Côteaux du Languedoc, 12.5%
95% syrah, 5% grenache.
A very dark, young purple. Sweet syrupy nose with
deep black fruit. Very full, with sweet fruit on the
palate. Very young with massive grippy tannins. I
think this could grow on me. Very Good/Very Good
2003 Tradition, Domaine Mas L'Avail, AC Côtes du
Roussillon Villages , 14%
40% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 40% Carignan, all from
vines over 50 years old.
A young fresh, grenachey-syrah nose. Very weird
palate. Quite fresh, unripe plum flavours. I suspect
there must be something wrong with this, as it's
very odd. Good/Not Rated.
It still managed to get 5 out of 14 votes too.
2000 Rust en Vrede Estate Red Wine, Stellenbosch,
58% cabernet sauvignon; 33% shiraz; 9% merlot.
A young, very black purple. Sweet jammy nose with
big black fruits and cassis. Sweet and full on the
attack. Big black fruits again. Not a wine to meet
down a dark alley. Reasonable stuff.
This got 9 out of 14 votes.
2001 Le Dessous de l'Enfer, Domaine la Combe
Blanche, Vin de Pays des Côtes du Brian, 13.5%
A rather closed, black fruits nose with a streak of
raspberry. Quite direct and forward, yet also a
rather austere attack.
This won 2 out of 10 votes.
2004 Syrah Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards, Swartland,
A youngish darkish purple. Floral, fragrant nose.
Very elegant. This is lovely on the palate: fragrant
and very round. Maybe a touch hot on the finish, but
forgiveable. Very Good Indeed.
This won 8 out of 10 votes.
2003 Sequillo, Sadie Family, Swartland, 14%
63% syrah; 30% mourvedre; 7% grenache
A decent nose, though seeming fairly simple
initially. Sweet, almost malic attack. Good forward
clean fruit. Some complexity with a nice fresh
acidity to balance the ripe fruit. Very Good Indeed+
This got 7 out of 14 votes.
2001 Ater Noir, Domaine Sol-Payré, AC Côtes du
A blend of 75% Syrah, 20% old Carignan, 5% Grenache
A curious nose: full, with sweet blackcurrants and
plums, but also medicine cabinets and menthol. A
sweet, yet very elegant attack. Big and bold on the
palate, and a bit hot on the finish. A very pleasant
wine. Very Good Indeed+
This got 7 out of 14 votes.
2003 Guardian Peak SMG, 14.5%
Syrah 57% Mourvèdre 32% Grenache 11%
Very dark black. A rich Rhôney nose with chocolate,
coffee and plums. Quite spicy and quite Rhôney on
the palate. Full and Complex. Very Good +
2001 Les Romarins, Domaine Ellul-Ferrières AC
Côteaux du Languedoc, 14.5%
70% Mourvèdre, 30% grenache
A fairly simple, quite straightforward nose with
some meatiness. Sweet black fruit on the plate, and
it seems very simple and straightforward and a bit
2002 L'Esprit de Font Caude Montpeyroux, Domaine
Alain Chabanon, AC Côteaux du Languedoc , 14%
45% Syrah, 42% Mourvedre, 13% Grenache. 30 months
élévage, 24 of which in barrique. Bottled
An elegant, perfumed nose - really quite scented. A
big wine, though it seems a bit harsh on the palate
at the moment with fullish tannins. Screams of
Languedoc terroir. Good/Very Good.
2003 Gilga Shiraz, Wine of Origin Stellenbosch,
A very strange nose, with rubbery, burnt nose which
sort of suggests pinotage. Quite an artificial nose.
The palate's in contrast to the nose, and it's
obviously not pinotage. Soft ripe fruits in the
mouth. Very good balance. Very Good Indeed and being
generous 89 points, though that's ignoring the nose
which isn't nice and should probalby knock a couple
of points off the total.
Wines over dinner
2000 Four à Chaux de la Combe, Domaine la Combe
Blanche, Vin de Pays des Côtes du Brian, 13%
A blend of chardonnay; roussane and viognier.
A mid to deep lemon gold. Curious nose: very rich,
with sweet and very concentrated fruit with some
oak. Very ripe on the attack, but also curiously
unbalanced. Really rather scented too. Very
concentrated fruit on the palate. Very Good+?
2004 Bandol Rosé, Domaine de Terrebrune, AC
Bandol , 13%
Stinky, bretty nose. Odd palate. Obviously a below
par bottle. Not rated.
2001 Vergelegen Vergelegen, Stellenbosch, 15%
A deep, youngish, very dark ruby. Slightly scented,
slightly confrected rubbery nose with some black
fruit. Big and very open on the attack, though with
rather odd flavours. Very concentrated fruit. This
is a very good wine, but not for me.
1996 Bourgueil Vaumoreau, Pierre-Jacques Druet,
A murky young ruby. Rubbery, greenish cool climate
fruit nose. Elegant, fresh attach, following through
onto the palate. Presumably cabernet franc. Tannic
and doesn't excite me one little bit. Good.
2003 Neffiez Cuvée Baltazar, Les Vignerons Réunis
de Neffies, AC Côteaux du Languedoc , 13%
95% Syrah, 5% Grenache
A full, elegant nose with lots of blackberry fruit.
Lovely sweet fruit on the palate. Concentrated and
very pure. Very Good Indeed.
1991 Chateau Musar, 14%
A mature cherry red. Sweet nose with some VA. Very
musarey. Sweetish palate. Lovely stuff. Excellent.
My third time with Musar 1991, and it's just getting
1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Méthode Ancienne
Springfield Estate, W.O. Robertson
A very scented blackcurrant nose. Ripe forward
cassis fruit on the palate. Very hot on the finish,
but that improves as it stays in the glass. Very
Good/Very Good Indeed.
The Sweet Flight
N.V. Domaine Mas L'Avail Muscat de Rivesaltes,
A pale, slightly greenish straw appearance. Fresh,
muscatty nose - fairly clean but with a nice depth.
This is a decent muscat VDN, but a bit coarse and
simple. Good/Very Good.
1999 Chenin Blanc Auction Reserve Edelkeur Noble
Late Harvest, Nederburg, Wine of Origin Paarl ,
A coppery gold. Honey and marmalade on the nose.
Very peachy, sweet fruit on the palate. Lacks a bit
of elegance. Very Good.
A sipper to contemplate and finish.
2003 Domaine Mas L'Avail Maury Expression
A correct nose with sweet blackberry fruit. Good
round fruit on the palate. Nice round flavours.
Enjoyable, but not the greatest Maury. Very Good+
Languedoc was the clear winner on votes on the pairings,
but all in all, I think it was closer than that, and
with a bit of electoral reform in the Nottingham
procedures (e.g. allowing abstentions from the outset
rather than from half way through!), I don't think the
winner would have been as clear. There were some very
good wines, but overall the standard was a little lower
than I'd expected, perhaps because of an agreement to
keep all bottle prices below £15. My wine of the night
was one of the ringers: the Musar 1991.