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Roque, Roque, Roque your Boutin

Boutin “Château La Roque” 2004 Pic Saint Loup “Cuvée les vieilles vignes de Mourvèdre” (Languedoc) – Fulsome, brown, and with a strangely appealing sour note that manages to lift all the less earthy notes to greater prominence. Thus are revealed dark blackberries and boysenberries, perhaps a bit of quince paste, and a peppery finish. Meaty and mushroomy as well. Quite solid with structure and balance. (6/09)

Cave art

Cavalier “Château de Lascaux” 2005 Coteaux du Languedoc (Languedoc) – Dark. Rosemary and earth, blackened fruit, some tar. All muscle, but not much flesh; this vintage is a little harder than is probably good for it, with layer upon layer of ripe but oppressive tannin. Will it age into something better? Maybe. (6/09)


[bottles]Sénat 2007 Minervois “La Nine” (Languedoc) – Seems dominated by the aromatics of its grenache (bubblegum and sticky raspberry) and the structure of its mourvèdre, but while there’s both ballooning fruit and shouldery structure, I’m not sure where this wine’s head is. Time it needs, and time it will get, but I do wonder about its future. (5/09)

Clean Jean

[vineyard]Miquel “Domaine de Barroubio” 2004 Muscat de St-Jean-de-Minervois (Languedoc) – There are zillions of sweet muscats that taste more or less the same, and the intersection of those descriptions (freshly-crushed flowers, exotic perfumes, fresh oranges, highly approachable sweetness) is less interesting than the rest. Here, it’s a transparent, quartzy minerality and a good deal of lightly-herbed sea salt; both are decidedly background material to the usual muscattishness, but they’re there, and they make all the difference. As for this particular bottling, it’s starting to bronze a bit – both color and flavor – which tames its exuberance but replaces it with a certain maturity of character. Very nice. (4/09)

Jugie & jury

Alliance Minervois “Jacques de la Jugie” 2006 Minervois La Livinière “Cella Vinaria” (Languedoc) – Were there a Minervois Nouveau (and for all I know, maybe there is), I suspect it would taste a little like this: the dark, soil-infused leather of Minervois in a surprisingly light, crisp, approachable way. I find this a little shocking in a Livinière-labeled bottling – I expect extra layers of density and difficulty at this age – but it’s hard to deny the wine’s appeal. (4/09)

Boutin up

[region]Boutin “Château La Roque” 2004 Pic Saint Loup “Cuvée les vieilles vignes de Mourvèdre” (Languedoc) – Totally disjointed for its first ten minutes of life, though this is hardly an unusual trick for a mourvèdre to pull. Eventually, it calms down, though it’s no smooth-talker. Rough-grit sandpaper is the texture, earthy-smoky aromas of an old, wood-beam attic fill the glass, and the palate is thick without being sludgy. If there’s “fruit,” it’s the sort grown from freshly-laid macadam, though there are suggestions of some deep black residue that might once, in another life, have been the last desiccated offspring of a berry. None of the preceding is particularly unusual for this wine at this stage, though there are some worrisome frays at the edge; coupled with a well-stained cork, I wonder if there might not have been a little more heat than would be ideal in this bottle’s history. (3/09)

Martian fonts

Font-Mars 2007 Picpoul de Pinet (Languedoc) – Juicy greenish-yellow fruit, intense and insistent but not sharp. Some leaves and twigs complete the picture. A guzzler. (2/09)

Meat castles

[tombstones]Set in an otherwise quiet residential area of town, Le Tournedos et H. Le Tassigny isn’t the easiest restaurant to find. Not that I think it’s particularly big with the tourists in any case; everyone stares when we walk in, there’s certainly no English being spoken at any other tables, and the English we speak to each other draws a surprised glance from every waitperson that approaches our table.

The name of the game here is meat, and a lot of it. In fact, I can’t imagine wanting to eat here except if in search of the namesake tournedos, which feature on the menu in many, many incarnations. I start with a salade de gésièrs, itself a massive and extremely filling (but excellent) undertaking, and while waiting for my next course I realize I’m really not all that hungry. Oops.

So, when presented with a slab of beef about the size of my head…

…continued here.

Don’t be a Daumas

Guibert de la Vassière “Mas de Daumas Gassac” Rosé Frizant Brut (Languedoc) – Cherry Kool-Aid, and not in a good way. Completely candied and confected. Two sips are about all you’ll ever want. (1/09)