Thursday 9 August 2012

South West France Lunch at Maha 30th July 2012

One of the occasional perks of this job is a long lunch. Sometimes you get the added bonus is great company and wines that you find compelling. I definitely hit the jackpot at this event!

I'm a huge fan of the wines of Bordeaux but often find them just above my comfortable spending level for all but special occassions and those I can afford generally still need a year or 5 in the cellar to show their best. This event allowed me to cast my eyes further South and taste some interesting wines from Cahors and Madiran.

For the budget conscious Bordeaux lovers.
The main regions of the South West of France.

South West France is used as a cover all descriptor for the fragmented regions between Bordeaux and Languedoc. Depending on the laws of each region the wines might be red, white, rose or even sweet. They may be made from the noble varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah or from 'lesser' varieties like Malbec (aka Cot aka Auxerrois), to the downright unsual Tannat, Petit or Gros Manseng or Petit Courbu. For more information on the area and its wines and producers check out TWD's South West France Offer or better still why not book into our Introduction to South West France tasting? Email for more details or see TWD's website.

Quality is as fragmented as the regions laws and location. But today we had some stunning wines from two producers, local anti-hero Alain Brumont who Andrew Jefford describes the South West's very own Citizen Kane who has built up quite an empire of beautifully run estates including Montus and Bouscasse. We also tasted the much more amiable wines from the Verhaeghe family's du Cedre.

Maha put on a shared feast of delightful food and we were off.

Alain Brumont Gros Manseng & Sauvignon Blanc 2011 A great introduction to the tasting! Fleshy and exotically fruited with a lovely textural palate. Blending the familiar flavours of Sauvignon with the decidedly unknown quantity that is Gros Manseg. Overall a very enjoyable quaffing style white.

Chateau Bouscasse Pacherenc Sec 2008 100% Petit Courbu (first time I have knowingly tasted Courbu big or small!). I loved this wine's ripe and flavoursome outlook. Peaches and apricot kernel. Quite full and silky finish. Quite complex and very enjoyable.
Chateau du Cedre Cahors 'Heritage' 2009 90% Malbec, 10% Merlot. This wine showed dark fruits, while being light, fresh and a hint herbal. Some grippy fruit tannins were evident with some spice and cardomom notes. A great entry level to the reds of the region for drinking now.

Malbec at its lovely best.
Du Cedre Cahors.
Chateau du Cedre Cahors 'Chateau' 2008 More brooding, dark, with hints of red fruits, smoke and mineral and blood oranges. Dry and lovely but packs a fair whack of tannic power. 90% Malbec, Merlot and Tannat 5% each. Drink now or leave for a few years.

Chateau Bouscasse Madiran 2009 Jumping now to Madiran where Tannat rules the roost. 65% Tannat, 25% Cab Sauv, 15% Cab Franc. Dark, minerally, hint of oak - somewhat reminiscent of Hunter Valley Shiraz. Nutty, smokey/flinty, nice acidity, silky and dense. Great wine! I love it now but it will improve with another 5 + years laying down.

Chateau Montus Madiran 2009 Dark, dense, smoke, hint red, hint floral, ash, complex, plummy and prunes. The palate was sweetly fruited, hint of aniseed, dense and silky with nice balance and savoury elements. 80% Tannat 20% Cab Sauv.

One for the claret lovers.
A wine that was set to stun. Delicious.
Chateau Montus Madiran 'La Tyre' 2009 Only made in the best years, this was seriously impressive. Minerals, red fruits, smokey oak, spice, fruit tannins and very elegant. Dark, great balance and a hint bitter. This is just a baby but is a must try wine if you want to see the potential of the region.

Chateau du Cedre Cahors 'Le Cedre' 2007 100% Malbec. Toasty, Bordeaux like, earthy, dry stems, flesh, silk, vibrant, long and nicely balanced. Like the Le Cedre this is seriously impressive and shows off Cahors' best suit. Lovely drinking.

Chateau Bouscasse Pacherenc doux 'Les Larmes Celestes' 2010 100% Petit Manseng which has been late harvested but not affected by botrytis. This has a similar flavour profile to the Pacherenc sec (not surprisingly!) but is medium sweet and quite lush. Brilliant drinking with lovely refreshing acid to keep it clean and tidy.

Les Larmes Celestes - Lovely sweeter wine for those that enjoy finesse!  
Chateau du Cedre Vin de Liqueur 2010 100% Malbec. This is like a mini Port. There is less alcohol and sugar which makes it perfect for ending a meal and there is just enough spirit and structure to tackle cheese or savoury dishes but enough sweetness and vibrancy to match with chocolatey desserts.

Loujan Bas Armagnac Normally I avoid spirits as they are my Krytonite. This was lovely though. Nice perfume, quite elegant and really well balanced. Great way to warm up before heading out into the chilly Melbourne afternoon.

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