Browse Tag

southwest france

The Resses of the story

[vineyard]Resses “Château la Caminade” 2004 Cahors (Southwest France) – Weirdly spacious, with snaky tannin and charred fruit draped on a wall opposite the one that carries a bright, berries-in-the-sun flavor with considerable acidity. The dominant impression is one of structure, and I just don’t know if there’s the balance or interest in integration to bring the disparate elements together. This wine needs a vinous Brown v. Board of Education. (8/08)

Virgin secs

Barrère “Clos de la Vierge” 2005 Jurançon Sec (Southwest France) – Intense summer vegetables, green and complex, with piercing acidity and a narrow, planar texture. It seems to possess an inner chill, as if it were turning to ice from the inside out, yet the solidity stays just underneath the surface of consumption. (8/08)

Chanade O’Connor

Hollevoet “Domaine de la Chanade” 2007 Vin de Pays des Côtes du Tarn “Les Rials” Loin de l’Œil “Sur Lie” (Southwest France) – It’s a white wine. That’s about all you’d want to say about it. Crisp, mostly flavorless aside from a vague gesture in the direction of lemon, and awfully innocuous. (7/08)


Darroze 1974 Bas-Armagnac (Southwest France) – Warming alcoholic heat, but balanced and supple. Concentrated black raspberry with notes of walnut. And…is it? Yes, it is. A touch of cream (4/06).

Virgin manseng

Barrère “Clos de la Vierge” 2005 Jurançon Sec (Southwest France) – Herbal with a post-rainstorm, humid, sweaty character and an acrid, biting acidity; it all works beautifully, but it’s not a wine you want to serve to New World chardonnay types. A wine in 7/8; not danceable, but forcing you to listen carefully, after which the pulse eventually permeates. (5/08)

Gregorian Chant

[vineyard work]Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2005 Jurançon Sec “Chant des Vignes” (Southwest France) – Mountain minerals and dried thyme, white-out fruit with a dominant foundation of dirt, light but insistent presence, and a fine, very precise and almost rigid finish. This isn’t a particularly expressive wine, but it more than makes up for it with striking confidence. (5/08)

Just a sec

[vines]Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2005 Jurançon Sec “Chants des Vignes” (Southwest France) – Gros manseng in stainless steel, with six months of lees contact. Grass and bitter almond dominate, with pine nut and pineapple lurking. The structure is firmly acid-based, and takes the form of a tsunami of green apple. Long, crisp, and quite nice. I don’t know if I’d call it refreshing, exactly…it’s a little too razor-like for that…but what it lacks in gulpability it makes up for with low-key complexity. (10/06)

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2004 Jurançon Sec “Sève d’Automne” (Southwest France) – Gros manseng, picked at the end of October and aged sur lie in wood. Riper, with a lightly yeast-driven nose and a papery texture. A full-bodied palate of walnut- and pecan-like bitterness draws a contrast with huge minerality and an overwhelming “wetness.” This has an appealing drinkability the Chant des Vignes lacks, though it also carries a bit of baggage: some light woody tones to the finish. It’s a “better” wine, but I prefer the lighter cuvée. That might change with age, however. (10/06)

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2005 Jurançon Sec “La Canopée” (Southwest France) – Petit manseng, drying on the vine, fermented in barrique with batonnage, and aged sur lie for ten months. Much woodier, with bitter almond extract persisting but this time paired with ripe citrus. The wine seems almost salty with minerality. Very long. All that said, at this point, the wine’s mostly structure. Interestingly, the domaine suggests less than half the suggested cellar time for this bottling than for the Sève d’Automne (6 vs. 15 years). (10/06)

Calendar girl

[barrels]Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2004 Jurançon “Ballet d’Octobre” (Southwest France) – Gros manseng, picked very ripe at the end of October, and fermented in slightly older wood. This is meant to be the early-drinking entry in the sweet lineup, which is demonstrated by the lightness and balance of the wine; “ballet” is an excellent name. There’s sweet apple and sugared walnut, some of that unmistakable almond, and crystallized peach skin (both fruity and texturally bitter). Long, fresh, and clean. (10/06)

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2004 Jurançon “Symphonie de Novembre” (Southwest France) – A first pass at petit manseng picked in the early weeks of November, fermented in a mixture of new and two-year wood, than given an additional nine months in wood, plus another six months in tank. Concentrated peach and pear with a healthy layer of spice, apple, and even some clementine. Very rich, but with fine acidity preserved throughout. Lovely. (10/06)

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2001 Jurançon “Noblesse du Temps” (Southwest France) – Dried-on-the-vine petit manseng, picked after the first frost and in multiple passes from late November through early December, vinified in new wood and spending an additional eighteen months in wood (I think not new, but our host isn’t clear). Spiced honey – said spices being mostly cinnamon and nutmeg, both in a rich, freshly-baked form – with an apple-tang edge to a fruit syrup palate that’s energized by firm acidity. There’s a bit of caramel at the tail. A beautiful wine. (10/06)

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2000 Jurançon “Quintessence de Petit Manseng (Southwest France) – Petit manseng (of course), picked in multiple passes in the latter half of December, from grapes well past mere passerillage or normal icing and into an advanced state of shriveling and water loss. Fermented in barrique and aged for two years more (not sure in what). Absolutely noble, with incredible density. Peach essence, apricot, orange marmalade, and bursts of flowers. This explodes with character. Texturally, it’s lusciously creamy, but still with a backbone of acidity for support. The finish is all honey, fresh cream, and nut oil, and it’s long, long, long. Majestic. (10/06)

Juscle a little Jurançon

Vigneau la Juscle Jurançon Moelleux (Southwest France) – There’s no vintage listed, nor is there a specific cuvee indicated, and I don’t even get to see the bottle…not that it really matters. For all I know, this isn’t even Jurançon, though it tastes like it might be. It tastes of light apricot and peanut, faint but clean, and the effect is more refreshing than luscious. It’s not worth a second look, but it serves its current purpose quite nicely. (10/06)