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Posts Tagged ‘Saint-Chinian’

Domaine Rimbert in Top Form

The wines of Jean-Marie Rimbert continue to provide moving examples of old-vine Carignan farmed predominantly on soils of schiste.  I have drunk a few bottles of 2013 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian that have shown some variability.  When in top form, this wine will compel you to drink the earthy, red fruit.  It is a rounded wine with fine tannins and integrated acidity that should drink well for a few more years.  Though I do not see any reason to hold back.  The 2012 Domaine Rimbert, Le Mas au Schiste, Saint-Chinian adds Grenache into the mix.  This is a thicker, coating wine with flavors in the kirsch and garrigue spectrum.  It has a bit more stuffing so I would recommend you cellar it a year or two with the goal of the nose becoming more expressive.  Priced at $15 and $18 these are well priced for their uniqueness.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Carignan. Alcohol 12.5%.  The earthy nose bears the slightest yeast hint and develops a green pepper scent with air.  In the mouth is a rounded start that fills the mouth with earthy flavors.  The fine tannins build as earth mixes with fuzzy red fruit.  The acidity keeps the wine fresh but is completely integrated.  This earthy wine continues to have a berry core that eventually morphs into a ripe, strawberry finish with a dry aftertaste.  Nice wine.  *** Now – 2018.

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2012 Domaine Rimbert, Le Mas au Schiste, Saint-Chinian – $18
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 33% Carignan, 33% Syrah, and 33% Grenache with 33% aged in old barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The slightly shy nose reveals kirsch which is soon joined by fruit.  There is a thicker start with slightly savory flavors of kirsch and black minerals.  With air the wine adds garrigue to the mix and seemingly becomes thicker as it takes on more black minerality.  The dry finish evokes the stone soils just before the wine coats the entire mouth. *** Now – 2025.

Four Vintages of Domaine Rimbert

The wines of Jean-Marie Rimbert always provide interest and personality at affordable prices.  I recently tasted Jean-Marie Rimbert’s Carignator which is made from deadly old vines.  That wine was made from pure Carignan.  This post features two vintages each of Les Travers de Marceau and Les Mas au Schiste both of which are Carignan based blends.  You may find background information on these wines in my post about Domaine Rimbert.

What I enjoyed about these four wines is how they wear the vintage variations.  The 2012 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian was the most forward of the wines, though this took several hours of air.   On the first night it overshadowed the 2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian which took until the second night to show that good stuff is yet to come.  The 2010 Domaine Rimbert, Les Mas au Schiste, Saint-Chinian has a complex nose but ultimately remained tight in flavor.   The 2009 Domaine Rimbert, Les Mas au Schiste, Saint-Chinian was lighter and less rounded than the 2010 vintage.  It too sports a  complex nose but this time it was more old-school rather than fruity.  All four of these wines will continue to benefit from cellar age.  I would stash a few away while you can still purchase them.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Carignan.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose revealed raspberry candy aromas.  The mouth followed the nose with raspberry flavors that were tart on the tongue.  It show orange notes that took on some weight as the wine picked up low-lying black structure.  This wine clearly needs air!  It had some black tea notes followed by graphite and butter in the lively, flavorful finish.  *** 2015-2018.

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2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Carignan.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The flavors played it closer showing more drying structure at the end.  With air the wine developed some puffy flavors followed by a nice lipstick finish and aftertaste.  **(*) Now – 2018.

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2010 Domaine Rimbert, Les Mas au Schiste, Saint-Chinian – $18
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 33% Carignan, 33% Syrah, and 33% Grenache with 33% aged in old barrels. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was complex with floral and fruit aromas that developed notes of sweet, sugared black tea.  The flavors filled the mouth with tart and ripe fruit.  There was a roundness to the wine with a  sense of approachability but ultimately it remained tight.  It took on wood and stone notes with the dry, structured finish.  **(*) 2015-2020.

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2009 Domaine Rimbert, Les Mas au Schiste, Saint-Chinian – $18
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 33% Carignan, 33% Syrah, and 33% Grenache with 33% aged in old barrels. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose bore attractive, old-school aromas.  In the mouth were tart red fruit flavors that had no edges.  The flavors morphed to firm black fruit that had a lightness of flavor.  This uniquely flavored wine took on notes of dried tea and herbs that matched the acidity.  **(*) Now-2019.

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It Only Lasted Two Nights: 2010 Domaine Canet-Valette, Une et Mille Nuits

October 17, 2013 1 comment

Sulphuring the Vines. Image from Le Vignoble de L’Herault.

According to Rosemary George, Saint-Chinian has a long history of viticulture because little else except the vine will grow on the rugged hills of the Cevennes.  The soils range from schist to a mixture of clay and limestone.  In describing Marc Valette of Domaine Canet-Valette she writes “He is an opinionated, intense man” who built a state of the art wine cellar.  It contains stainless steel vats for fermentation which feed by gravity to cement vats below which also feed by gravity to an underground barrel cellar.  His 18 hectare vineyard in Cessenon is drought-prone and produces very ripe grapes.  As a result he employs a variety of used wooden vessels of different sizes and shapes.

Wine Production of L’Herault (1850-1899). Image from Le Vignoble de L’Herault.

Early British guidebooks were indifferent to Saint-Chinian itself.  John Murray, in 1856, described it as a “wretched place, streets scare wide enough for a carriage to pass.”[1]  However the “mountains are literally covered with wild lavender of exquisite fragrance.  Every patch in the valley is cultivated; grapes, figs…”  After a decade passed, the 2,690 inhabitants of the city became known for the manufacture of cloth, brandy, and leather goods.[2]   After the mid 1880s, the ravages of Phylloxera had passed and the production of wine increased.  John Murray changed his opinion by 1892, describing the “busy town in a pleasant situation” as having a population of 3600. [3] In the book Le Vignoble de L’Herault published in 1900, the wines of Saint-Chinian were considered amongst the best of the region.[4]  Whereas most of the wines of L’Herault were current consumption the red wines of Saint-Chinian were ” très recommandables” and “les vins de Saint Chinian couramment classés au premier rang des vins de l Hérault au Concours général”.

A Modern Cellar from L’Herault in 1899. Image from Le Vignoble de L’Herault.

I liked this wine.  From the first sniff and taste I was attracted to the earthy, minerally, black fruit.  I always wonder how this profile come about then I take another taste and forget about it.  I maintained a nagging feeling that a little something was missing and I believe it is another six months in the bottle. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Domaine Canet-Valette, Une et Mille Nuits, Saint-Chinian – $18
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault sourced from vines on clay and limestone soils.  The fruit was hand-harvested, destemmed, fermented 70-90 days, then aged for 24 months in foudres and demi-muids.  Alcohol 14%.  There were earthy flavors of minerally black fruit which became ethereal as they expanded in the mouth, lasting through the earthy finish.  The black fruit mixed with acidity as the wine became drier with a moderate structure  coming out.  The wine is not heavy, it had a medium body that became lighter in the mouth, which surprised me, I expected more weight.  There was a nice flavor profile, good finish, and an inky hint.  *** 2014-2018.

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[1] Murray, J. Hand-book For Travelers in France. 1856. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=6AIIAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR3#v=onepage&q&f=false
[2] Knight, Charles.  The English Cyclopaedia: Geography. 1867. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=igVCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA4#v=onepage&q&f=false
[3] Murray, J. Hand-book For Travelers in France, Part II. 1892. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=eFk7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PP7#v=onepage&q&f=false
[4] Le Vignoble de L’Herault. 1900. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=4iw7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PR9#v=onepage&q&f=false

Lovely Wines from Domaine Navarre

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Thierry Navarre cultivates 13 hectares of mostly Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah.  He also has a small amount of Terret, Grenache Gris, and Oeillades.  His organic vineyards are located on soils of schiste and based on these two bottles, yield lovely fruit.  I was immediately attracted to the finely, scented nose of the Le Laouzil.  It suggests this is a wine to drink in its youth and the palate confirms that impression.   We actually drank it first so that the Cuvee Olivier could breath.  The later is from the hotter and dryer 2010 vintage.  The reduced yields of the vintage allow Cuvee Olivier to exhibit additional flavor and weight.  It still maintains a grapey levity so you will not mistake it for a Southern Rhone wine.  I liked both of these wines but I would spend the extra money to secure the Cuvee Olivier.  These wines were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.

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2011 Domaine Navarre, Le Laouzil, Saint-Chinian – $14
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache and Syrah with a little Carignan.  It was aged in old wooden vats.  Alcohol 13%.  The good nose is finely scented with grapey aromas and a dark, cinnamon bit.  In the mouth there was grapey black and red fruit in this tart wine.  The acidity was on the sides of the tongue along with grapey tannins of youth.  The wine does not need age despite the moderate tannins.  A little pencil lead comes out with air.  ** Now.

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2010 Domaine Navarre, Cuvee Olivier, Saint-Chinian – $19
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is an equal blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah from the oldest vines aged in demi-muids.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a medium grapey purple.  The nose remained subtle.  In the mouth were serious, deeper black grapey fruit.  With air a very focused ripe, powdery, blue fruit flavor came out.  The tannins coat the gums and lips.  The wine slowly develops weight and becomes even more engaging.  *** Now-2020Navarre3

Four Recently Enjoyed French Wines

Today’s post features four French wines which I recently tasted.  Both the 2012 Domaine des Braves, Regnie and the 2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau are youthful wines which I highly recommend.  They both remind me of clean, fresh fruit.  Take a close look at the Rimbert label for the “2011” vintage year is hand stamped over the old “2010.”  When I met Elisabeth Saladin of Domaine Saladin just over one year ago I got to taste the 2007 Domaine Saladin, Fan de Lune.  You may read my impressions of that and other wines in my post Tasting the Wines of Elisabeth Saladin at MacArthur Beverages.  Since then the wine has developed a pebbly texture and dried herbal flavors.   The 2007 Domaine de Alary, La Font d’Estevenas reveals riper fruit and more overall drive.  It has developed some maturity and should continue to do so over the next several years but will last longer.  I enjoyed all four wines but if I had to pick only two then I would go with the Domaine des Braves and the Domaine Rimbert. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine des Braves, Regnie – $16
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  The whole-cluster fruit was fermented in cement.  Alcohol 13%.  The scented nose revealed good aromas of red currant and raspberry.  In the mouth there were fresh red berries and a tiny pepper note which mixed with the tart acidity and bit of structure.  The wine developed strawberry flavors and learn red fruit with black minerals.  There were very fine, grapey tannins.  *** Now-2016.

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2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Carignan. Alcohol 12.5%.  The enjoyable nose revealed macerated raspberries and perfumed aromas.  In the mouth there were tart red flavors that were round.  The mouth then followed the nose with a very fine berry purple texture and grapey personality.  A nice wine!  *** Now-2016.

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2007 Domaine Saladin, Fan de Lune, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $20
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is mostly Mourvedre with some Grenache and Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vines.  The vineyards are high in minerals with galets roules.  Vinification depends upon the varietal with aging for nine months in foudres.  Alcohol 11-14%.  In the mouth there was almost pebbly fruit which mixed with dried herbs.  The dry flavors mixed with the tannins.  It showed some weight with air along with flavors of dried herbs, a hint of citrus, and ripeish-wood box tannins.  ** Now-2017.

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2007 Domaine Alary, La Font d’Estevenas, Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne – $25
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from a vineyard planted in 1961.   Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was robust with mulberry and black grapey aromas.  The wine starts with ripe flavors of red and blue fruit, a hint of maturity, and a little tang.  There was some weight and drive to the fruit.  With air the flavors become drier with the mature notes developing in the middle.  The flavors expand in the mouth but the wine maintains a sense of lightness in the finish.  *** Now-2020.

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A Refreshing Fortified Muscat

July 25, 2012 1 comment

Domaine Simon is an old estate dating to 1623 when Pierre Mercadier acquired the property.  In the 1960s Marie-Francoise and Henry Simon replanted the vineyard and developed the winery.  Today the 60 hectare domaine is run by their children Christine and Luc.  The domaine is located in the south of Saint-Chinian at an altitude of 280 meters where the soils are of clay, limestone, and schist. They produce both red and white wines but this post concerns their Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois.  This tiny appellation was created in 1949 and consists of some 195 hectares worked by one cooperative and eight domaines.  The wine may only be produced from Muscat petit grains matured to 252 g/L with a final alcohol content of 15-18%.

Last week I grabbed this bottle because of the bottle age and color.  I had never heard of this wine before so I emailed Jocelyn Cambier.  He commented that it was not so sweet and the unique soils give it savory, almost thyme-like flavors in the finish.  These are apt descriptions that I agree with.  It is the sort of wine you could end every hot summer evening with a glass.  This is drinking quite well right now and is perhaps best after one hour of air.  A great value at $20, I wish there were more.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

1996 Domaine Simon, Clos Bagatelle, Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois – $20
A Jocelyn Cambier selection imported by Franklin Selection Inc.  This wine is 100% Muscat petit grains sourced from 30-year-old vines at Clos Bagatelle.  The fruit is fermented in glass lined concrete tanks for approximately one week.  It undergoes mutage, fortification, bringing the alcohol from ~8% to 15%.  It is then aged on the fine lees in stainless steel for approximately one year.  Alcohol 15% vol.  It is a medium amber color looking of age.  The nose is light in strength with rich, low-lying aromas.  The gently ripe flavors are a bit savory and mix with black tea, dried florals, and thyme.  The ripe floral fruit is sweet at first then takes on good body before the sweet aftertaste where there is some warmth.  With air it takes on a touch of marmalade.  In the end this is a very refreshing and though I write sweet, it is a lighter style.  *** Now-2022.

Three Tasty Wines For the Weekend

January 27, 2012 1 comment

Terre Blanches, Image from Borie La Vitarele

I do not normally post five tasting notes in one day but I felt compelled to publish a second post.  We greatly enjoyed these three selections and I strongly recommend you consider purchasing these wines during your weekend wine shopping.  It has been a couple of years since we drank many bottles of the 2007 Borie La Vitarele so I am glad to see that the 2009 is just as good.  The Domaine du Pas De L’Escalette provides a second excellent vintage of Les Petit Pas.  This 2010 vintage is more floral and peppery whereas the 2009 was inky and gritty.

Vineyard, Image from Quinta do Crasto

Of these three wines I am most excited about the Quinta do Crasto.  Like the 2009 Duorum, Colheita there is such a lovely mixture of floral and berry notes on the nose.  Combining a sense of the Douro, enjoyment, and strong price you should try this along with the Duorum.  I hope that MacArthurs searches for more of these lovely Portuguese wines.

2009 Borie La Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is a blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  The wine was aged for 12 months in oak barrels and tanks.  There is a fruity, youthful nose.  In the mouth there are flavors of cool fruit, stones, fine+ tannins, and a little spicy finish.  With air the high-toned red fruit mixed with hard blue fruit, showing subtle ripeness and raspberry flavors in the finish.  Slow to unveil it ultimately reveals a somewhat juicy and inky personality.  I would cellar this for a few years before drink but if you try it now give it 2-3 hours of air.

2010 Domaine du Pas De L’Escalette, Les Petit Pas, Coteaux du Languedoc – $15
Imported by Elite Wines.  This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan.  This wine has a light nose with pure floral and pepper notes.  In the mouth the delicate red berries are fresh, gentle and ride on a medium beam of acidity.  There is mild back-end sweetness.  On the second night the wine puts on some weight and the pepper component is stronger.  This could stand a year in the cellar before drinking over the short-term.

2009 Quinta do Crasto, Douro – $15
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of 35% Tinta Roriz, 25% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Franca, and 15% Touriga Nacional source from 20-year-old vines.  The wine was aged in stainless steel.  There is a light to medium strength nose of an attractive mixture of flowers and fresh berries.  In the mouth flavors of black pencil lead and low-lying sweet fruit are medium in weight with a great salinity.  This chewy wine has salivating acidity.  With air the nose becomes firmly medium-strength with Jenn finding a clean aroma of “oranges.”  I would drink this now or over the next five years.  Quite lovely.