Browse Tag

southwest france

Rieston stop

Darroze “Domaine de Rieston” 1990 Bas-Armagnac (Southwest France) – Armagnac turned up to 11, or maybe even 12, in darkly-oaked intensity laden with succulent dried fruit. Showy and rather fantastic. It is not, I think, designed to appeal to lovers of older, more reticent and well-matured spirits, but it’s impossible to ignore and, frankly, very difficult not to like. (4/11)

A Coutale of two cities

Bernede “Clos La Coutale” 2009 Cahors (Southwest France) – Full of sap and chew, as so often lighter than the brackish aromas portend, yet alive in a scowling sort of fashion. There’s a minor burnt note on the finish that makes me wonder about the condition of the bottle, but otherwise it’s quite approachable. (7/12)


Cairn d’Eole “Causse Marines” 2010 Gaillac “Peyrouzelles” (Southwest France) – A little bit bretty at uncorking, though this is eventually surpassed by other elements, and a touch spritzy/prickly throughout. Otherwise, it’s all vivacious berries and freshly-crushed petals, with the zing of bright acidity and a hint of pleasant volatility (yes, I – Mr. Oversensitive-to-VA – just wrote that). I can’t imagine this could be held, but why wait? (3/12)

Bittersweet November

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2001 Jurançon “Symphonie de Novembre” (Southwest France) – Thinning just a bit, which is odd considering that the less-ripe October-harvested version was, at last encounter, still chugging along. The vagaries of late-harvesting (or better acidity), I guess. It’s still very good, with the lightness that counters the sugar still entirely present, but greens and golds are fading to paler greens and transparencies. There’s more apparent minerality as a result, but the overall texture of the wine suffers a bit. I’m thinking that I might drink most of the rest (I bought some of this at the domaine, and then a fair additional quantity in the States), perhaps leaving one bottle for later…which will, of course, end up being the best of the lot. (12/11)

Bernede ladies

Bernede “Clos La Coutale” 2008 Cahors (Southwest France) – This can be a forbidding bottle in its youth, even given the appellation’s reputation for either early anger or offensive oak-softening, but for whatever reason this wine unfolds itself rather quickly. Tannin and a dark wall of blackness are all that’s there at uncorking, but then a spectrum of fruit – noir to rouge – develop while iron, salt, and charcoal filter into the foundational void. In less than an hour, it’s a complete, reasonably approachable wine that – while it still needs a little grazing-animal muscle to tame its scowl – offers no reason why it can’t be consumed now. I think it will be better later on, but if there’s any such thing as an early-drinking Coutale Cahors, this is it. (8/11)

Don’t be a Maurin

Domaine La Bérangeraie 2006 Cahors “Cuvée Maurin” (Southwest France) – Rich, aromatic, delicious. Full of ripe, wet soil and black-skinned fruit, with a fabulously floral aroma. A surprisingly terrific performance, far earlier than I’d expected it. (8/11)

…and his little buddy Gilligan

Capmartin 2007 Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl Sec (Southwest France) – Perfumed and powdery, with fruit exotica (custard apples come to mind) and a swirly core. Gets more and more interesting as it airs. (7/11)

Grin & Barrère it

Barrère “Clos de la Vierge” 2009 Jurançon Sec (Southwest France) – Mineral-infused wax, hard panes of glassy structure, secretive greenish-white forest fruit. A really intriguing wine, faceted and somewhat mysterious. (7/11)

King of men

Ilarria 2007 Irouléguy Rouge (Southwest France) – Since falling in fairly deep love with this property during a brief drop-in visit, I’ve had a long and difficult codependent relationship with the basic reds, which can occasionally show their form, but mostly insist on truculence and pebble-kicking foot-shuffling. And that’s true whether the bottles are sourced in the States or in France. I don’t know what the issue is, but the true goodness I know is within these wines just never really shows on demand. This particular bottle brings difficult, dark fruit that fades in and out, large-chunked earth, and a cloudy structure. There’s so much here, glimpsed in moments and daydreams, but nothing coalesces. (6/11)

Goutte idea

Cazottes Eau-de-Vie Goutte de Mauzac Rosé Passerillé (Southwest France) – Floral as much as fruity, with the quality of my preferred clear spirits in that it goes beyond a simple spirituous expression of the source material to achieve something a little more interesting. Those who prefer that purity might not like this as much. There’s a delicacy along with the usual heat that’s not often found, either. (3/11)