French Wine Growers in Manchester

22nd January 2009

On a sunny January day just under two dozen French wine growers came, in association with UBIFrance, the French Agency for international business development, to Manchester's Bridgewater Hall to show off their wares to British importers and press.  Britain is not an easy market for small and medium sized French wine producers to break into, as we're a very competitive market with a high level of saturation of French wines.  We are France's largest export market, taking nearly 3 million hectolitres of wine, worth some 1.4 billion Euros.

Unfortunately it wasn't possible to visit every producer, but I came away from this tasting with a very good impression: for the most part these were high quality producers who deserve exposure in their export markets.

Saint Henri
Cave du Verger des Papes
Châteauneuf du Pape

Saint Henri is a recent addition to the list of producers of Châteauneuf du Pape and other southern Rhône wines: it was founded about 2003/4 when wine grower Henri Estevenin and former sommelier Guy Brémond joined forces.  They describe themselves as a négociant-artisan and also have a wine merchant business (Cave du Verger des Papes) in Châteaneuf.

2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc, Saint Henri
This is a blend of clairette and roussanne.  It has a fairly sweet, marzipanny nose.  It's good on the palate and feels all very correct.  At the right price point, this would be very buyable and drinkable.  It has a nice persistent finish with a good aftertaste.  89/100

2006 Esprit d'Henri, AC Côtes du Rhône
This is a blend of 80% grenache and 20% syrah which spent 14 months in cask before being bottled unfiltered.  It has a very prominent nose, with quite a provencale feel: spice, wood, garrique.  Interesting in the mouth with some real garrique/herbes de provence flavours - almost a bit too much so.  But still, a very interesting wine.  88/100

Châteauneuf du Pape, Saint Henri
This is a blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre.  Initially the nose is restrained, even light, but aeration brings some nice, meaty black fruit characters out.  It has a very fresh feel on the palate, and doesn't seem to me to be one for keeping.  Very pleasurable now, and lacking the structure needed for ageing.  89/100

Châteauneuf du Pape, Saint Henri
This has a more closed nose than the 2005, with a bit of sturdy granite minerality at the moment.  Very tight on the palate, but there's a ripe cocoa finish too.  This will repay keeping a few years, and it will be better than the 2005, I think.  89-90/100

Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser

The Champagne house of Tribaut-Schloesser is based in Romery, about 7 miles north west of Epernay.  It was established in 1929 and is a family business, currently run by father and son Jean Tribaut and Jean-Marie Tribaut.  The vineyards are planted on the south-west facing slopes of the village of Romery and cover about 40 hectares, planted wit 30% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier.

NV Brut Tradition, Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser
This is a blend of 30% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier.  It has a good fruity, brioche nose is followed up by a nice, interesting palate.  This is a very good champagne for everyday drinking.  90/100

NV Brut Chardonnay, Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser
This has quite a zesty nose with a nice minerality.  Good clean palate, though maybe just a little unfocussed.  As usual in Champagne, I prefer the traditional blend to the pure chardonnay.  87/100

NV Brut Rosé, Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser
This is a blended rosé, from 60% pinot noir and 40% pinot meunier.  There are nice black fruits on the nose, which are followed up by lovely red and black fruit characters on the palate.  This has very good depth and balance and I find it rather impressive.  92/100

2002 Brut Millésimé, Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser
The 2002 is made from a pinot noir dominated blend.  A lovely deep nose with raspberry and blackberry fruit.  Very good palate.  Nice depth and balance.  Enjoyable.  89/100

NV Cuvée René, Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser
This is their top cuvée, made from 60% chardonnay and 40% pinot noir.  The nose is rather slight, but hints of nutty oak.  Nice and precise on the palate, but ultimately, I find it just a bit unsatisfying.  88/100

Château de l'Ille
Peyriac-de-Mer, Languedoc-Roussillon

Peyriac-de-Mer is a small fishing village near Narbonne, apparently dominated by the Château de l'Ille, whose vineyards cover a peninsula, exposing them to the sea from two sides.  The 68 hectares of vineyards are planted with bourboulenc (also known as malvoisie), grenache blanc, rolle vermentino, chardonnay and roussane for white wines, together with carignan, grenache noir, syrah and mourvèdre for the reds.  Yields are restrained at 45 hectolitres per hectare.

2008 Cuvée Émilie, AC Corbières, Château de l'Ille
This is a blend of 55% malvoisie, 20% grenache blanc and 25% rolle-vermentino, cool-fermented, then kept on its lees in stainless steel tanks for six months before bottling.  
It has a very rich, creamy nose with aromas of lemon and marzipan.  This is followed up by a nice rich, creamy palate with refreshing, aromatic citrussy flavours.  Very long.  89/100

2008 Cuvée Charline, Vin de Pays de l'Aude, Château de l'Ille
This is 100% chardonnay
, cool-fermented, then kept on its lees in stainless steel tanks for six months before bottling.  A nice crisp, warm climate chardonnay nose leads on to a fairly simple and straightforward palate - good enough and all correct.  But really rather satisfying too.  Good length.  87/100

2007 Cuvée Alexandre, Vin de Pays de l'Aude, Château de l'Ille
This is a rosé made from roughly 90% syrah and 10% grenache.  A fairly deepish colour, this has a very attractive, slightly stinky nose with a nice blackberry perfume.  Very smooth and rounded in the mouth.  This is very, very drinkable and very appealing to a mass market.  There's a very nice red fruit character on the finish, followed by decent length.  89/100

2008 Cuvée Léonore, Vin de Pays de l'Aude, Château de l'Ille
This is their everyday red designed for drinking lightly chilled.  It's made from 40% cabenet sauvignon, 40% marselan and 20% carignan.  It's a deepish young colour.  The nose is very forward with bright red and black fruit.  A good simple palate - this is indeed a quaffing wine for a hot summer's day and definitely benefits from being lightly chilled.  It would make a good barbecue wine.  86/100

2007 Cuvée Julia, AC Corbières, Château de l'Ille
A blend of 40% syrah, 30% grenache noir and 30% carignan, this has a very floral cottage garden nose.  Very much an English cottage garden rather than the more garriquey scents I might have expected - quite a surprising nose.  It's very nice on the palate, and again with a quite surprising, elegant, floral character that's really delicious.  It persists in the mouth for quite a while.  Hardly a typical Corbières - it's unusually light and fragrant, but it's a really lovely, delicious wine.  93/100

2006 Cuvée Angelique, AC Corbières, Château de l'Ille
This is a blend of 60% syrah and 40% grenache.  It has deepish black fruits on the nose.  On the palate it lacks the surprise and charm of the Cuvée Julia and shows itself to be nothing more than a nice, well-made, fairly unchallenging Corbières.  Though there's a really nice spicy feel on the finish and after.  88/100

2006 Cuvée Andreas, AC Corbières, Château de l'Ille
This is their top wine and about twice the price of the others (except the Angelique which falls midway).  A blend of syrah, grenache, mourvèdre and carignan (40:10:30:20), with the syrah aged in oak, and made for up to ten years' ageing.  The nose had deep black fruits with a nice meatiness and gaminess.  Very good palate: deep and complex, with the ripe fruit balanced by very good structure and a nice touch of bitter tannins.  90/100

Château de Saint Martin
Taradeau, Provence

Château de Saint Martin is a 100 hectare estate (50 hectares of vines) and has been in the same family since 1740 and has almost always been handed down the female line, with some of the ancestral portraits appearing on the labels of today's wines: today the charming Adeline de Barry is in charge.  Winemaking on the site can be traced back to the 10th century, and parts of the cellars date back to the 15th century.  Besides the wines I tasted below, the domaine also makes some sparkling wines and a premium wine, the red Cuvée Comte de Rohan Chabot, which unfortunately I didn't get to taste.

2007 Cuvée Eternelle Favorite, AC Côtes de Provence Rosé, Château de Saint Martin
"A rosé devoted to women's pleasure" they say!  This comes in a modern, stylish bottle with square shoulders, setting itself apart from the rest of the range, which all come in Bordelais bottles.  The nose is very floral and fragrant with honeysuckle and white flowers.  Very elegant, floral and fragrant on the palate.  This is indeed a very feminine wine, though I think the pleasure can extend to the other sex too.  87/100

2007 Comtesse de Saint Martin Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Cru Classé Blanc, AC Côtes de Provence, Château de Saint Martin
This is a blend of clairette, ugni blanc and rolle.  It has a rather lean, unpromising nose, but on the palate it's fresh and elegant and a lovely drink.  89/100

2007 Comtesse de Saint Martin Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Cru Classé RoséAC Côtes de Provence, Château de Saint Martin
The rosé in the Cuvée Comtesse range is made from a blend of syrah, tibouren, grenache and carignan with 18 hours skin contact.  It has an interesting nose with gentle red fruits and some minerality and a hint of floral character.  Very nice on the palate, this is quite rich and red wine like.  Impressive.  91/100

2007 Comtesse de Saint Martin Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Cru Classé Rouge AC Côtes de Provence, Château de Saint Martin
The red in the Cuvée Comtesse range is a blend of grenache, syrah and carignan.  Although only a portion of the syrah is aged in oak, the oak is noticeable on the nose, which it shares with some unusual gingerbread aromas and a touch of cinammon.  This is a very structured wine: driven and rather serious, but with an attractive wild, gamey edge.  89/100

2008 Cuvée Grande Réserve Rosé, AC Côtes de Provence, Château de Saint Martin
The Grande Réserve rosé is a blend of grenache, tibouren, carignan, syrah and cinsault.  Unlike the Comtesse rosé, this has just six hours skin contact, giving it a nice bright pink colour.  The nose has strawberries and orange flower water.  On the palate, it has a nice fruity character, and being just very slightly off dry is very drinkable.  Actually, there are some quite powerful red fruit and orange flavours here.  87/100

2008 Cuvée Grande Réserve Blanc, AC Côtes de Provence, Château de Saint Martin
The white Grande Réserve is a blend of clairette, rolle and ugni blanc.  The nose has creamy, herbal pears.  Fresh and bright on the palate, this is not too crisp, but has a nice freshness still.  It's not overly complex, but is a very nicely made wine with good, clean fruit and decent length.  87/100

2005 Cuvée Grande Réserve Rouge, AC Côtes de Provence, Château de Saint Martin
The red Grande Réserve is an unoaked blend of cabernet sauvignon, grenache, syrah and mourvedre.  The nose has bright red fruits with a savoury edge.  It's decent enough on the palate, but not thrilling.  A solid well made wine: beyond that much depends on the price.  A good food wine, though.  86/100

NV Vin Cuit, Château de Saint Martin
This is a blend of mostly grenache, cinsault and carignan which had been cooked for ten hours in a copper cauldron before fermentation in oak barrels.  Unfortunately, this unusual wine was only being served from miniature sample bottles, not the proper 500ml bottle in which it is sold, so the tasting sample was tiny: I wish there'd been a bit more as it was so unusual it would, I am sure, have repaid further consideration - a true vin de contemplation.  There are raspberries and quince on the nose which is really quite heady (though in a non-spirity way).  In the mouth, it's sweet, but not really that sweet: it lack the true sweetness of, say, Sauternes.  It seemed to me to be a bit like a Roussillon vin doux naturel, but without the kick of the spirit that comes from fortification (my understanding is that this vin cuit is not fortified), but it also feel more rounded than some vins doux - perhaps that comes from the cooking?  It does not, however, feel at all cooked in the way that Madeira or Marsala can.  It's so completely different, that it's difficult to put a score on it, though I suppose it would be about 90-92/100?

Château Pas du Cerf
La Londe les Maures, Provence
This is a family run business, established in 1848 with 80 hectares of vineyards on the 700 hectare estate, which is situated in a valley stretching from La Londe to Collobrières.

2008 Château Pas du Cerf Blanc, AC Côtes de Provence
This is a blend of rolle and semillon.  This was a tank sample, with the wine expected to be bottled later in February 2009.  A very fragrant nose with leafy peach aromas.  Good palate, with nice character and length.  87/100

2007 Rocher des Croix Blanc, AC Côtes de Provence, Château Pas du Cerf
100% old vine rolle.  The nose has creamy white fruits and pawpaw.  Very tropical fruit palate with a rich, floral fruitiness.  There's also a nice elegant structure behind.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2008 Le Merle Rosé, AC Côtes de Provence, Château Pas du Cerf
This is a very pale rosé, made without maceration from 40% grenache, 40% cinsault together with some some tibouren and cabernet sauvignon.  It has a lovely red fruit nose with a nice minerally character.  This is a very good, fruity rosé just tending to a touch of the sweetness of ripe fruit.  It would make a very good aperitif.  It's much deeper on the nose and in flavour than the colour would lead you to expect.  89/100

2008 Diane Rosé, AC Côtes de Provence, Château Pas du Cerf
This is made from a blend dominated by grenache (60%), with cinsault, syrah and carignan.  It is incredibly pale for a rosé - there's virtually no colour in the glass.  There's some nice light fruit on the nose.  Deeper, fuller, palate with enormous length.  But it feels a bit clumsy compared to the Merle.  84/100

2008 Château Pas du Cerf Rosé, AC Côtes de Provence
This is a blend of 80% grenache and 20% cinsault, macerated for 12 hours on the skins, giving it a very pale salmon pink colour.  The nose is attractive, but I'm very distracted by a strong scent of the old Trebor Fruit Salad sweets that you used to be able to buy 4 for 1d (an old penny).  There's a touch of sweetness on the palate that I quite like.  Nicely made, but it has that Trebor Fruit Salad character throughout.  86/100

2008 Rocher des Croix Rosé, AC Côtes de Provence, Château Pas du Cerf
80% grenache : 20% cinsault with a 24-hour maceration.  This is more obviously pink than the other Pas du Cert rosés.  Quite a slight nose with a nice minerally character.  Good palate.  Better balance and more obviously food-friendly.  88/100

2007 Passion d'été, AC Côtes de Provence, Château Pas du Cerf
A red wine, made from 30% syrah and 70% carignan.  It has a nice young syrah nose.  It puts me in mind of a "syrah nouveau" if you see what I mean.  Light, fruity and easy.  And it works well as such.  Simple, easy, and quaffable.  87/100

Domaine de Monteils
The domain was established in the 1860s by the Fiton family in Preignac, one of the five communes that make up the Sauternes appellation (Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues Preignac and Barsac).  The domain is now in the hands of descendants of the original Fiton family and has 11 hectares of vines planted with semillon (85%), sauvignon blanc (8%) and muscadelle (7%) in several parcels, mainly in Monteils, Le Violet and Pagnin.  The grapes are all harvested by hand and, depending on the year, it can take between three and six passes ("tries") through the vineyard to pick all the grapes with the desired noble rot.  Each vine produces between one and three glasses of wine.

2003 Domaine de Monteils, AC Sauternes
80% semillon : 20% sauvignon.  This has elegant notes of citrus, in particular orange, on the sweet nose.  Decent palate, but not really very exciting.  A bit lacking in elegance on the palate.  84/100

2005 Domaine de Monteils, AC Sauternes
The nose is very, very dull indeed: it’s very hard to find anything; possibly a faint hint of a sort of wet sourness.  If it weren’t the end of a bottle they’ve been pouring all afternoon, I’d think this might be a bit corked.  Take a taste, and my suspicions are confirmed.  To be fair, the corkiness is much more pronounced on the palate than the nose, but why on earth do producers never taste the wines they open at tastings?  NR

2005 Domaine de Monteils Sélection, AC Sauternes
The Sélection is a blend of 90% semillon and 10% muscadelle [? Check?].  It’s fine, but of no interest.  A bit dull, or to be charitable, closed, on the nose.  Just a rather characterless sweet wine on the palate.  Nothing wrong with it.  But it doesn’t do it for me.  83/100


Michel Guignier
Domaine des Améthystes
Villié Morgon

Michel Guignier is both a producer, bottling under his own name, and a sort of mini négociant, the wines of the latter bearing the Domaine des Améthystes label.  I found his own wines to be very elegant, and it was certainly interesting to try three Morgons from the same producer next to each other.  The wines come under the new-ish description of “natural wines” – wines made with minimal intervention.  Michel Guignier believes that this not only helps protect the environment, but allows the grapes and their terroir to shine.  His own vineyards are all in the process of conversion to organic status.

2007 Beaujolais, Michel Guignier
This has a fairly fresh nose with lots of character.  The palate is fresh and clean, giving a good impression and some pleasure.  It’s fairly simple, but very well made.  87/100

2007 Morgon tradition, Michel Guignier, 13%
The grapes for the “tradition” wine come from a mixture of new and old vines.  The nose is heavy with raspberry fruit and some bubblegum.  Very good, fresh, light palate.  This has a really nice character.  88/100

2007 Morgon vieilles vignes, Michel Guignier, 13%
The vieilles vignes are about seventy years old.  The wine is aged in oak for five months.  The nose is similar to the tradition, but a little tamer.  Lovely rich, deep palate.  Nice and round and ready.  90/100

2006 Morgon bio-tradition Bio-Vitis, Michel Guignier, 13%
Again, this is from old vines planted on the hillsides, the grapes from which are pressed in an old wooden press, with the resulting wine being aged on its lees in oak for thirty months.  It has a very nicely perfumed nose.  On the palate, it’s very integrated and smooth with a hint of a creamy feel.  Although the oak is all old oak, it has made in presence felt, and very nicely rounds out the wines.  Very enjoyable wine.  91/100

2007 Chiroubles, Domaine des Amethystes
This has a really unusual nose: it smells very distinctly of raspberry ripple ice cream!  The odd nose is not, however, reflected on the palate, which is jolly good: very clean and elegant.  92/100
Michel Guignier told me that each of the Amethystes appellations is produced by a different producer: the label on the Chiroubles bears the code of the producer, AP 69115.

2007 Brouilly, Domaine des Amethystes, 12.5%
This has an attractive, straightforward nose.  But overall it feels a touch simple.  87/100
For the codebreakers, the Brouilly is produced by DG 69910.

2007 Fleurie, Domaine des Amethystes
A heavy raspberry-strawberry nose.  Very fine palate.  Excellent balance.  91/100

2007 Saint Amour, Domaine des Amethystes, 12.5%
There are floral red fruits and a bit of bubblegum on the nose, which overall has quite a delicate character.  Very fine palate, with a bit more structure than the previous wines.  90/100

Domaine Força Réal
Força Réal is situated 20km west of Perpignan near the village of Millas on the slopes of the Ermitage Força Réal.  The estate extends to some 70 hectares between 100 and 450 metres above sea level.  Around 40 of the 70 hectares are planted with low yielding vineyards (on average 30 hl/ha) and 10 hectares are given over to olives.

2007 L’Olivier (blanc), Domaine Força Réal, Vin de Pays d’Oc
This has a rather unfocussed, spirity stone fruit nose.  Full, and rather rich on the palate, this is easy drinking, though lacking character and interest.  83/100

2007 L’Olivier (rouge), Domaine Força Réal, Vin de Pays d’Oc
A rather simple nose with raspberry and blackberry fruits is followed up by a simple, basic, though definitely tasty palate.  83/100

2006 Forca Premium, Domaine Força Réal, AC Côtes du Roussillon Villages
The nose has perfumed, bubblegummy black fruit.  The palate is fairly simple and straightforward with sweet fruit and soft tannins, which build on the finish and linger after.  84/100

2005 La Linea, Domaine Força Réal, AC Côtes du Roussillon Villages
There are pleasant, attractive garriquey black fruits on the nose.  It’s quite full on the palate, but there’s an attractive, very fresh streak through the middle, followed by quite a chocolatey feel on the finish.  87/100

2006 Mas de la Garrigue, Domaine Força Réal, AC Côtes du Roussillon Villages
On the nose, there are perfumed black fruits and a hint of herbes de Provence.  Very attractive on the palate.  This has a really serious, rich feel, but is also very elegant.  Very good finish.  89/100

2006 Les Hauts de Força Réal, Domaine Força Réal, AC Côtes du Roussillon Villages
This has some very obvious oak on the nose, giving sweet vanilla mixed with black fruit.  The palate just shows rather too much oak for me.  This is made in a very serious style and needs time for the oak to integrate.  For now, 86/100

2006 Domaine Força Réal, AC Côtes du Roussillon Villages
There’s very deep, serious, moody lack fruit on the nose.  This has a seriously rich, deep palate with elegant black fruit and a nice spicy feel on the finish.  Excellent length.  It’s made in quite an international style, I suppose, but it’s a style that works well here.  88/100

2007 Domaine Força Réal, AC Muscat de Rivesaltes
This has a very nice, rich Muscat nose that comes as something of a relief after the big, heavy black fruit of the preceding wines.  On the palate, it has a good, balanced sweetness.  It’s possibly not the most elegant Muscat de Rivesaltes, but it is very pleasing, very definitely retaining a fresh muscat character.  88/100

NV Rivesaltes Hors d’age, Domaine Força Réal, 15%
A mid teak colour, the nose has old wood, caramel, prunes and raisins.  Superb palate, with huge elegance.  It has a really nice sweetness, with a dried fruits and nuts character.  It’s very rounded with no spirity edge.  92/100

Domaine des Ondines
Domaine des Ondines is a relatively new company, the underground winery being built in 2003.  They produce some Côtes du Rhône Villages, but their main production is Vacqueyras, part of which is aged in oak, the rest in cement tanks.

2007 Plan de Dieu, AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Domaine des Ondines
This is 80% grenache blended with 20% syrah.  There is some lovely, crisp, fresh black fruit on the nose – a combination of blackcurrants and blackberries.  The palate too has some really good fresh, clean black fruit characters.  It’s very young still, but it has a lovely character that’s very appealing.  It has a yummy deliciousness to it that’s very engaging.  92/100

2007 AC Vacqueyras, Domaine des Ondines
This is a blend of 60% grenache, 35% syrah and 5% very old cinsault.  The nose is quite subtly floral with black fruits and a very nice herbal character.  Vey good palate.  This is very easy and appealing initially, then it really fills the mouthwith deep, rich, spicy black fruit with a gentle tannic backbone.  92/100

Ferraton Père et Fils
Tain l’Hermitage 
Ferraton are growers and negociants, with their range covering most of the Rhône appellations.  Their single vineyard wines are now biodynamic.

2007 Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc, Ferraton Père et Fils
60% grenache blanc and 40% clairette.  Very full nose: crisp and almondy.  Full, mouthfilling palate, but ultimately, it feels rather simple.  83/100

2007 Crozes Hermitage Blanc, La Matinière, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% marsanne aged for ten months on its lees.  This has a rather slight nose, but with an elegant creaminess.  Very rich palate: very forward and full, but ultimately a bit lacking in character and definition.  83/100

2007 Saint Joseph La Source, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% marsanne.  A small minority of the wine is aged in oak, but the majority remains in stainless steel tanks.  The nose is rather slight and just a bit unexciting.  Fine but uninteresting on the palate.  Maybe this needs a few years of age.  84/100 for now.

2007 Condrieu Les Mandouls, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% viognier.  To maximise the aromatic character of the grape, there is no malolactic fermentation.  80% of the wine is aged in stainless steel; 20% in 600 litre oak barrels.  The nose is very herbaceous.  Nice open palate with good depth.  There’s some nice white fruit character on the finish.  An interesting wine.  87/100

2007 Hermitage Blanc, Les Miaux, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% marsanne aged on its lees for 10-12 months.  It has a curious, extracted nose with lots of pear and nuts.  Very rich palate, feeling heavy and a touch sweet.  It’s okay I suppose, but it lacks elegance.  There are certainly better white Hermitages out there.  85/100

2006 Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rouge, Ferraton Père et Fils
This is a blend of 80% grenache, 15% syrah and 5% cinsault.  There’s young forward floral fruit on the nose.  This is a good, basic Côtes du Rhône.  85/100

2007 Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône Villages, Ferraton Père et Fils
This is a blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre and carignan.  There are rich black fruits on the nose, but with a nice freshness.  Good, open palate with quite a chocolatey richness with a pleasing gaminess.  Very nice finish with lots of character.  89/100

2005 Châteauneuf du Pape Le Parvis, Ferraton Père et Fils
The blend for this Châteauneuf is grenache dominated (90%), with small elements of syrah and mourvedre.  There are very deep, if rather simple black fruits on the nose.  A nice warming palate with good fruit balance. 87/100

2006 Crozes Hermitage La Matinière, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% syrah.  A nice meaty syrah nose.  Good fresh palate, with notably good balance.  Lots of character on the finish.  88/100

2006 Saint Joseph La Source, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% syrah, aged partly in oak, partly in stainless steel for 12 months.  A rather closed, black fruits nose.  Decent palate with a nice characterful feel in the mouth.  Good spicy finish, lingering long after.  87/100

2006 Côte Rôtie L’Eglantine, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% syrah, matured in oak for 16-18 months.  There’s meaty, sweet black fruit on the nose.  This is a nice, well-made wine, but seems to be a bit lacking in Côte Rôtie character.  86/100

2005 Hermitage Les Miaux, Ferraton Père et Fils
100% syrah aged in oak for 14-16 months, 10% in new barrels.    On the nose, there are very deep, brooding black fruits, just letting off a bit of violetty perfume.  It’s very young of course, meaning that its real character and finesse only really comes forward right on the finish and after.  87/100


Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
The Vignerons Laudun Chusclan are a cooperative with some 200 members and producing over four million bottles a year.  The  cooperative was formed in  July  2008 by the merger of two co-ops, Les Vignerons de Laudun and Les Vignerons de Chusclan.

2006 Chusclan Les Genets, AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
This is mainly grenache.  It has sweet red fruits with some garrique notes on the nose.  It has a good, crisp, round palate.  Nice character, with a nice spicy finish.  Gentle and very drinkable.  88/100

2007 Laudun Clos de Taman, AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
This is 50:50 grenache:syrah, cold macerated, and kept in stainless steel throughout.  It has quite a subtle nose with fragrant red fruits and a hint of citrus  Fresh and open on the palate, this has a nice character.  There’s a nice warm, spicy feel on the finish.  It’s still very young of course, but is already very attractive.  89/100

2007 Laudun Les Dolia, AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
This is a grenache-dominated grenache-syrah blend.  It has quite a rich nose, though without being particularly complex.  On the palate, it’s easy and attractive with nice structure and a good savoury-sweet fruit character.  Very pleasant.  89/100

2005 Chusclan Les Monticauts, AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
This is 80% syrah and 20% grenache.    There’s very pleasing restraint on the nose, which has quite concentrated black fruit and a certain fleshiness.  Very good palate: theres concentrated fruit and an excellent spicy structure to balance.  It finishes with a real roast beef character.  91/100

2005 Excellence, AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
This wine is a blend of syrah and grenache with a bit of mourvedre and blends wines from both the Chusclan and Laudun appellations.  It is unoaked.  The nose is nice and gamey – there are some black fruits, but the gaminess is dominant.    This is a very serious wine: there are very good fruit and structure and some good tannins.  It’s starting to drink now, but has at least 5-10 years to go.  Enormous length, with a roast game/grouse feel lingering in the mouth long after.  92/100

2006 Laudun Expressions, Élevé en fûts de chêne, AC Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
This is 80% syrah and 20% grenache, aged in oak for nine months, a mix of one, two and three year old barrels.  There is oak on the nose, but it’s very restrained, and come alongside some perfumed black fruit.    Very good palate, though there’s nothing particularly exciting or outstanding.  But you wouldn’t kick it out of the rack in the morning.  89/100

2006 Domaine Saint Nicolas, AC Lirac, Vignerons Laudun Chusclan
80% grenache and 20% syrah.  There’s very much a green herbaceousness dominating the nose.  On the palate, it has a very interesting character: it’s quite lean initially, but with a richness building towards the finish.  This is a good, characterful Lirac offering plenty.  89/100

Terroirs et Talents
Cercie, Beaujolais
Terroirs et Talents is a group of family estates from Beaujolais and Macon.

2008 Beaujolais Blanc, Domaine Romy (cask sample)
A very attractive, fragrant nose is followed up by a crisp, fragrant palate.  Zingy and clean with pear and peach flavours.  Very nice.  89/100

2008 Beaujolais Rosé, Cuvée non chaptalisée, Domaine Romy
This is a very pale salmon pink.  The nose is very slight, with just a bit of red fruit.  It’s interesting that it’s specifically labelled as non-chaptalised, as it actually tastes a bit like a sweetened white wine, with some sweet red fruit added.  A bit odd, but it’s better than I thought.  84/100

2007 Château de Berzé, AC Macon-Berzé, Paul Beaudet
A fair nose, though there’s nothing terribly exciting about it.  Good palate.  It works well enough.  85/100

2006 Château de la Terrière Vieilles Vignes, AC Beaujolais Villages, 13%
A good strawberry nose with a hint of bubblegum.  Attractive palate: nice and fresh and clean.  Very good length.  89/100

2007 Château de la Terrière, AC Brouilly
This has a very attractive nose which is followed up by a very good palate.  There’s more to it than Terrière’s Beaujolais Villages and it has some really good, fresh, vibrant fruit.  A lovely drink.  91/100

2007 Domaine la Chapelle des Bois, AC Fleurie, Paul Beaudet
A rather murky, meaty nose with a bit of stink.  Good, full palate.  It’s possibly a little on the simple, straightforward side, but there’s nothing wrong with it at all.  88/100

2007 Domaine de Boischampt, AC Juliénas, Pierre Dupont
This has a lovely nose with a gently fragrant red fruit character.  Very nice on the palate and working really well.  It has a nice depth, but without compromising its easy drinking character.  90/100

2007 Clos de la Brosse, AC Saint-Amour
This is a touch muddy on the nose, but it blows off to reveal an impressive fruit character.  Very nice palate: it has more of a meatiness than the other wines from Terroirs et Talents; and an interesting character, especially on the finish.  87/100

2007 Morgon Vieilles Vignes, Côte de Py, Paul Beaudet
The nose has deep blackberry and raspberry fruit.  Very nice palate: quite straightforward, I suppose, but it’s a nice drop.  There are lots of bright bubblegummy red fruit on the finish.  86/100

2007 Château de la Terrière, Cuvée de la Lure, AC Moulin à Vent
There’s some sweetish oak on the nose, dominating some red fruit.  Good palate – nicely balanced.  There are some firm, grippy tannins on the finish, which linger long after.  89/100

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Last updated: 30 December 2008