Thursday, September 9, 2021

Wines of Occitanie, with Tim Atkin MW

First in-person tasting after the pandemic, what a relief to be back in a hall with real people. Thanks to the Agency for Economic Development in Occitanie for organizing this event. More info also on the region's UK website.

Tim Atkin, MW

Intro to region by Tim Atkin, MW

Occitanie is the fusion of Roussillon and Midi-Pirenée, done in 2014, now largest wine producing region of France and by some accounts of the world.

Predominantly red wines (70%) with 25% of whites and 5% of rosé and sweet, the latter currently increasing.

About 3000 growers, many in cooperatives, and 700 negociants. Strong Catalan presence.

Syrah is the most recent successful arrival, began about 50 years ago to improve blends but later became established on its own.
Grenache and merlot are also popular, more merlot here than in Bordeaux.

Reputation lags behind reality: quality has been going up steadily in the region, while quantity is down similar to the global trend.
Blends on average are very successful, better than single varieties, especially for whites. Plant quite a bit of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc but can not compete with Burgundy or Loire even if prices are lower.

Detailed notes below, comments and scores are by Marco of AIS Brussels Club and not by Tim Atkin.

Master Class 1: Great Whites of Occitanie

1. Laurent Miquel, Albarino IGP Aude 2020, alvarinho 100%
Old house, founded in 1791, near Beziers. Steel fermentation, aged on lees, vines planted in 2010. Screw caps, a novelty here.
Floral nose, fresh attack, citrus, crunchy, an excellent Summer glass. Mod complex and length.
Could use some time to get a bit rounder but it is meant to be drunk fresh.
Score 92.

2. Domaine La Voute du Verdus, la Valise Blanche IGP Saint Guilhem le Désert 2020, carignan blanc 100%
Rare grape here, NW of Montpellier. Light oaking. "Lutte raisonnée" approach, not organic but least possible intervention.
Mod fresh complex aromas in the nose. Slightly woody, good structure, can feel phenolics, tannins.
Score 90.

3. Domaine Paul Mas, Réserve languedoc Blanc AOC 2020, vermentino, marsanne, grenache blanc and viognier
Steel fermentation and wood aging.
Smooth wine, mod length and complexity.
Score 88.

4. Chateau Puech-Haut, Tête de Beliér, AOC Languedoc 2020, roussanne, marsanne, grenache blanc, viognier
North of Montpellier, inox fermentation and wood aging with batonnage.
Excellent balance, mod complex and length.
Score 86.

5. Château des Estanilles, Vallongue AOC Faugères 2020, marsanne, roussanne, vermentino
FLoral aromas, vanilla, persistent minerality.
Perfect balance, complex and very long.
Score 94.

6. Château Rives-Blanques, Dédicace AOC Limoux 2019, chenin blanc 100%
Barrel fermented, batonnage.
Fresh and mineral, mod complex and length.
Score 88.

7. Mas de La Devèze, Pandore AOC Côtes du Roussillon 2019, maccabeu, grenache blanc
In Languedoc.
Smooth and complex, well balanced, a touch of lingering pleasant bitterness at the end. A unique sensation, unusual, surprising.
Score 93 mostly because it is so unique.

8. Plaimont, L'Empreinte SO Saint Mont 2017, gros manseng, petit corbu
In Gascony, steel and lees aging, no wood.
Fresh and aromatic nose, strong minerality, hard sensations prevail.
Might develop in time.
Score 86.

Master Class 2: Tim's Personal Picks of Occitanie

1. Calmel & Joseph, Ams Tram Gram, Quartier Libre IGP Pay d'Oc 2020, Clairette, grenache blanc, rolle (vermentino), roussanne
WHITE Intense floral aromas, round and mod complex wine, long. Could use a bit more acidity. Steel, no wood, no malolactic, on lees for 4 months.
Slight bitterness gives an original touch.
Score 89

2. Domaine Gayrard, Loin de L'Oeil AOC Gaillac 2019, Loin de l'oeil
WHITE A tad too rough, though a mod complexity can make it pleasant with succulent food, it is a bit off-putting to me.
Score 80

3. Domaine Lafage, Miraflors Rosé IGP Côtes Catalanes 2020, mourvèdre, grenache gris, grenache noir
RED Very fresh, easy wine for a pizza in the garden during the Summer.
Score 82

4. Château la Sauvageonne, Grand Vin AOC Terrasses du Larzac 2019, grenache noir, syrah, carignan noir
Hard sensations prevail, tannins predominant, sapidity.
Score 82

5. Château de Ciffre, Terroir d'Altitude AOC Faugères 2019, syrah,grenache noir, mourvèdre
Intense and captivating to the nose, of ripe red fruits, perfect balance, long and complex. A few years of aging potential, I'd love to smell the tertiaries of this wine.
The best red of the day.
Score 94

6. Cave de Roquebrun, Roches Noires AOC Saint-Chinian, Roquebrun, 2019, syrah, grenache noir, mourvèdre
A good all around wine, mod complex and long, but can't compete after n.5 above.
Score 85

7. Château Coutinel AOC Fronton 2019, négrette, gamay, syrah
Organic production, no wood.
Strong character, rough, hard sensations prevail. Tim says he likes it because as he gets older he prefer wines with harder taste, especially more acidity. I guess I am not old enough.
Score 80.

8. Domaine F. Jaubert, or du Temps, VDN AOC Rivesaltes 2002, grenache gris, grenache blanc
Fermented on skins, then 17 years in concrete tanks! Slightly fortified.
Nuts, dry figs, toasted almonds. A very well balanced, long and harmonious wine.
This is considered the white counterpart to Banyuls.
Score 94.

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