The Cercle Francais de Chiswick meets most months with an evening centred around a presentation in French on a subject with a strong French connection. Even if the topic or speaker fails to grip me, I at least get some practice at listing to spoken French. Most years they devote a session to food or drink matters and this month they invited Anthony Auguin of very local and highly reputed wine merchant Lea & Sanderman to introduce French Mediterranean wines.
Five wines were shown, one each of sparkling, white, rosé, red and Vins Doux Naturel.
2006 Crémant de Limoux Brut Jean-Louis Denois (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir) attractive apple blossom, yeasty, butter and toasted breadcrumbs with a clean finish. One of the best examples I recall tasting. Apparently Pinot Noir has been recently allowed under the appellation rules and Anthony feels this has improved Crémant de Limoux considerably. UK retail £13.50.
2008 Le Sarda Blanc Côtes du Roussillon Domaine Sarda-Malet (Grenache Gris, Marsanne, Malvoisi) very aromatic and quite fat with sage, thyme, green olives and grapefruit. For me a one glass wine but a good example of an up-front aromatic white, although personally I would prefer a Picpoul that should also come in a bit less than the £10 for La Sarda.
2009 L'Hydropathe Élite Rosé Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire Domaine Sainte Lucie (Grenache and Syrah) with 5 other varieties) boiled sweets with pomegranate. Well made and pleasant enough but little more and poor value at £14. Apparently this is popular in Chiswick at Christmas which sort of figures.
2005 Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint Maurice Cuvée Maréotis Domaine Viret (Grenache and Syrah). My first impression, actually more a hit both visual and nasal, was of some sort of dense fruit bomb. Deep dark colour, cassis, prunes, fruit cake, spices, very ripe tannins, farmyard (Brett) with nice freshness and delicious flowing silky mouth textures. Amazingly 15% but doesn't seem like it. The vineyard is "cosmoculture" biodynamic with no additives, including sulphur, in the wine making - something many would coin a "natural wine". Extraordinary and I loved it.
Anthony pointed out and defended the brett in the wine - a bit advanced for such as audience but hopefully they weren't put off. £18.
2006 Mas Amiel Vintage Maury Vin Doux Naturel (Grenache) was served with chocolates to illustrate its compatibility. This is the (relatively) modern young fresh, sweet, spicy, supple concentrated cherry style of Maury. Delicious, but perhaps finishing a bit short making it too easy to drink. £17.
Interesting to see the approach to representing the French med in just five wines. While I'm disappointed the Languedoc missed out, tasting the Domaine Viret Maréotis more than made up for it.