Tasting Notes: Wine-making and the wines of the Languedoc, presented by Catherine Keohane, 28 November 2018

We were fortunate to have an ex-winemaker living locally and able to present some of her wines to us and tell us the story behind them. Catherine gave us an insider’s view of some of the many wines from the Languedoc, especially from the Faugères area. In the second half of the evening we were given a very detailed and passionate account of her own wines and the philosophy behind them – all in all, a very interesting and unusual tasting with some beautiful wines. Sadly, many of these wines are no longer available but Catherine has offered to release some of her stock of the stonkingly good 2015 “Henri”

2010 Chateau Rives Blanques Blanquette de Limoux (Tanners £16.00)

 From 100% Mauzac, hand-harvested grapes and low yields, peach, pear and soft white fruits and balancing acidity, somewhat floral on the nose. Just slightly off-dry, quite fruit forward with a good finish. An excellent Champagne substitute.

2017 Chateau Rives Blanques Dedicace Chenin Blanc (Wine Society £12.50)

From the cool Pyrenean slopes that overlook the Aude Valley near Limoux. Aromatic and rich with distinct but delicate oak and ripe fruit, somewhat reminiscent of the richer whites of the Loire. An unusual and interesting take on Chenin Blanc.

2015 Domaines des Souliés Le Secret de Remy (ca. €12, n/a UK)

A blend of Clairette, Vermentino, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Gris, with a touch of new oak on the nose and palate, and a definite soft nutty note, probably from the Vermentino. A very subtle wine, not to everyone’s taste but I liked it.

2015 Les Amants de la Vigneronne Faugères Blanc (ca. €25, n/a UK)

From 100% Grenache Gris, quite a deep yellow colour and a rather voluptuous fragrant nose and rich palate with wonderful balance and complexity. This is an unusual grape, one to watch in this style.

2015 Domaine de Cébène Faugères Rouges (Leon Stokarski Fine Wines £17.75)

From the highest vineyards of the Appellation at over 300m, grown organically on schist soil and with hand-picked low yields, this is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre  and a touch of Cinsault. Having spent 12 months in oak, this is a typical Rhone-style GSM with red fruits and black pepper on the nose and spicy black fruits, good acidity and a touch of garrigue on the palate. The tannins are ripening so this young wine has a way to go – a very good one to lay down if you can get it!

2014 Domaine La Tasque Carignan (n/a, last seen from the Wine Society )

Very dark, almost “black” wine with a big red/black fruit nose and a whiff of hot tar on both the nose and palate, almost reminiscent of a Barolo. Had a huge mouthfill but rather unbalanced with a touch of alcohol “burn” and tannins that need time. Interesting to see how this might develop if we could get any!

2006 Chateau de Combebelle “Henri”  (n/a)

The first of two of Catherine’s own wines and the first vintage she produced, a Syrah/Grenache blend named after a family member. A touch brown on the rim and with a slightly rustic nose, a wine of good structure that still has some way to go.

2015 Chateau de Combebelle “Henri” (available directly from Catherine)

Her last vintage before the winery was sold and these grapes were grubbed up! 100% Syrah and a very beautiful restrained style of Syrah, balanced, long and complex, everything in its place and a great example of the “Syrah” rather than the “Shiraz” style. Catherine feels that this wine really expresses the terroir, she believes in tasting the soil of the vineyard to understand how this plays out in the wine and it certainly shows here; top wine of the evening for me.

Notes by John Harris