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© John Farren

Meeting 390 - -"Independent Vignerons of France Mk III"

Friday 15th January 2016     Neville Hall, Waltham St Lawrence 

Speaker:  Tony Hill and John Green - Bordeaux and Beyond  

       It was a great pleasure to have Tony Hill to talk again. He brought an eclectic miture of wines from all of the main French regions with a wide range of styles. The evening started with a very fresh and fruity Blanc de Blancs which perfectly cleansed our palates in preparation for the wines which followed.

       The 'old vines' Chablis was unusual in that it had some synergy in its processing with Champagne, in that after fermentation the wine is left on the lees in sealed stainless steel takns, resulting in some petulance in freshly opened bottles - which Tony demonstrated in a bottled he freshly opened for us to taste. With a nettle and elderflower nose and a full lemon, lime palate and long clean mildly acid finish it showed the best classic Chablis style.
The Pouilly Fumé which followed had a light 'green' but flowery nose and a hint of tropical fruit sweetness which carried through to the finish. The Pailmont Producteurs Le Faite Blanc was from prephylloxera vines was made from Gros Manseng and Petit Courbu, both very late ripening and small berried vines. Very full lemon and tropical fruit with some spice, the wine had a peculiar reputation as being 'improved' by being buried in the ground rather than matured in cellar!! The Bandol Rosé was very pale with an unusual soft fruit and somewhat spicy nose. Made from Mourvèdre (33%), Grenache and Cinsaut, using natural yeast and being left on the lees for 6 months it was a rather odd but pleasantly refreshing drink.

       The first red, the Ventoux, while having a medium cherry colour had a heavy stone fruit and herby nose, which was matched by its full rich, tannic palate and long finish, (Grenache,50%, Mourvèdre, Carignan) The second red, the Lalande de Pomerol, generally considered to be a cheaper version of Pomerol, was from vines grown on gravel with a high iron oxide content, was a complex mixture of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a small amount (3%) of Malbec. Bags of fruit and tannin, this wine was too young and would certainly go on improving for over 5 years. As would the Châteauu de Lauga which followed. A genuine 'cru artisan' wine with a cepage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere, this wine which had been 12 months in US oak had a light plum and vanilla nose. The very full blackcurrant body had sufficient tannic to suggest it would improve in the future.

       The final red, from Goulée Cos d'Estournel was the best of the evening - deep maroon with a chocolate and almost smoky nose - the palate was very rich plum and raspberry with balancing tannin, this wine could easily have been a 'Parker Californian' !! - 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest, Merlot.

       One final note: while the appreciation of the wines by members is always very personal, as would be expected, this particular evening showed the widest variation of scores that I have ever experienced. Very odd!

       For the food, Charlotte who had initially provided us with prawns as a taster followed it with a main dish of Daube style (onions, red wine and a miscellaneous range of vegetables) lamb breast casserole. This was accompanied by the Château Lacombe Cadiot (70% Merlot, 20% CS and 10% Petit Verdot) - a very fresh and fruity wine that had spent 13 months in oak. To round off the evening, Charlotte served a ricotta cheese cake accompanied by a rhubarb dressing.

The Wines
Aperitif: Champagne Domi Moreau NV, Blanc de Blancs 22.00 7+
(1) Domaine Fillon 2011, Chablis 14.50 7+ *
(2) Domaine Patrice Moreux, La Loge aux Moines, 2013, Pouilly Fumé 17.50 7 *
(3) Le Faite Blanc, Plaimont Producteurs 2011, St. Mont 17.00 7+ *
(4) Château de Salettes Rosé 2014, Bandol 11.00 7
(5) Domaine Vintur, Le Gentleman 2012, Côtes du Ventoux 13.00 7 *
(6) Château de Moines 2012, Lalande de Pomerol 14.00 7 *
(7) Château de Lagua 2010, Haute Médoc 14.50 7+
(8) Goulée - Château Cos d'Estournel 2010, Médoc 25.00 8
The supper wine :
Château Lacombe Cadiot, Bordeaux Supérieur

* Average of a wide range of scores!