The Group met for a tasting, led by Kathryn, on Wines of South West France on Monday December 14th.

The area is rather a portmanteau of styles, grapes and appellations: from the Pyrenées in the South, the Massif Central in the North-East, the Atlantic to the West, and through Roussillon to the Mediterranean in the East. It is composed of several sub-regions, first the Northern, Bordeaux-ish, areas of Bergerac, Montravel, Duras and Marmande; second the more north-easterly areas of Cahors, Gaillac, Quercy and Marcillac; thirdly the area historically thought of as Gascony – famous for Madiran and Armagnac but also Saint-Mont and Pacherenc; finally the Pyrenean areas of Jurançon, Irouleguy and others…

The tasting was not a comprehensive tour but a focus on Manseng (petit- and gros-) for whites, plus a sample each of three “names” for reds.

Here are my notes:

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Cuvade Préciouse 2013 Jurançon Sec (Domaine de Montesquiou)    (Leon Stolarski Fine Wines – £12)
This is basically 70% Gros Manseng, 30% Petit Manseng with dashes of Courbu and Camaralet. The nose is firstly strongly citric, with herbs later and blossom later still. The nose grows heavier with orange peel pungency running through it. The palate is very sharp but with a supple warmth and stony fruit – reminding me of quince. This has long warmth and depth but lifted by the very warm acidity. Very good

Cabidos Petit Manseng Sec 2010 IGP Pyrenées Atlantiques    (Wine Soc – £11)
Lighter nose at first, more sappy even grainy. Warmth again on the palate with honey hints, and spirit hints and a chalky, slightly bitter finish.

Terre de France 2014 (Domaine de Montesquiou)    (LSFW £12)
This is basically the same wine as the first, (a little more Cararalet) but this reaches 14.5% abv with still about 10 g/l sugar left. This exceeds the (very strict) limit of 4 g/l for Jurançon Sec and so is sold as Vin de France, a sort of super-Jurançon. It has more open aromas – honey and quince, but very similar to the first wine. The palate has similar flavours but with the acidity balanced by a little residual sugar it appears more pliant and lifting, the fruit seems more involved too and a very long balanced richness just asks to be drunk. Very good.

Gaillac “Les Gravels” 2012 (Domaine Rotier)    (Wine Soc £9)
This is composed of 35% each Fer Servadou and Duras with 30% Syrah, in what is a classic Gaillac recipe. This has notes of plum and blackberry. The palate is black fruit with a fleshy and spicy note and vaguely prune and coffee finish. Quite a Côtes-du-Rhône style with a Syrah frame softened by other grapes. Simple but balanced.

Irouleguy Rouge “Harri Gorri” 2010 (Domaine Brana)    (Wine Soc £13)
Farmyard and cheesy pungency giving way to fruit – over-ripe damsons and a leafy tinge. This is Cabernet Franc based (with some Tannat?) and shows a long, green-ish, herb-tinged acidity under a soft plum fruit. Reminiscent of a warm-year Chinon, and not bad for that…

Cahors Clos La Coutale 2012    (Wine Soc £8)
Soft plummy nose leading to a similar nose – black fruit with a touch of herbs, light acidity and easy-drinking fruity wine. Almost a Cahors copying a fruit-driven Argentinian Malbec! Rather simple, and a bit below the level of the other wines, especially the whites, (try Jean-Luc Baldes’ version  (Waitrose for £1 more) for more typical Cahors!).

Overall all the whites outstripped the reds with opinion mostly  divided between the two Leon Stolarski wines as to the best…. even>>>

... for the first time anyone can remember "Big Red" Rob votes for a white as wine of the night!!!

… for the first time anyone can remember, “Big Red” Rob votes for a white as wine of the night!!!

An interesting tasting which manifests the magnificence of Manseng… thank you Kathryn!

This will certainly be the last post (?!) before the holidays, and probably before the New Year. Although there will be a Wine-Of-The-Month in early January, and at some time a few notes of celebration wines.

In the meantime enjoy great festivities and – hopefully – some great wine.

Seasonal Felicitations and a full-bodied, sensuous, complex, supple and well-integrated New Year to all…

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