Last night I had the opportunity to be the Tasting Ambassador at the “Exploring Languedoc-Rousillon” event in Leicester. A huge thank you to @Laura and Tim Schwilk for the opportunity.
Brilliantly hosted by Emma and Gil this was a hugely enjoyable and fun event. They did well to overcome the acoustics in the room (which would have been great for a walk around tasting but was perhaps less suited to a tutored one – eg lots of echo).
If you’ve never been to a TWS tasting before (which I hadn’t) I’d thoroughly encourage you to do so. More informal and informative than many I’ve been too and, refreshingly, no heavy sales pitch either. Every other taster I met or spoke to was engaging and welcoming. Going on your own (as I did) shouldn’t put you off. You’ll quickly be sharing notes and opinions with those around you.
My overall summary would be that all the wines last night cried out to be served with food. I’m not sure they showed at their best on their own. I’ve kept that in mind, I hope, when writing up my notes. Those will follow in tranches over this evening.
Below are my notes on the sparkling, white and rose wines – the reds and a fortified will follow shortly.
Pale in colour, this displayed a persistent stream of very small bubbles. Not much on the nose at first – elderflower? – with perhaps some apple or pear nuances developing over time.
Very noticeable acidity on the palate. The general consensus on my table was that a glass of this would be a good aperitif or appetiser. However, it isn’t the sort of sparkling wine that would send me off looking for a second glass. Then again, few do…
There was a discussion on our table about how Picpoul seems to be “en vogue”. A grape most would never have seen a decade ago but now (like Terrontes) seems to be in fashion.
Very pale. Held up against the white tablecloth it seemed almost colourless. Very fresh on the nose with distinct lemon and herbal notes. On the palate it had good length and an almost saline edge. Interestingly Emma commented the locals would probably drink this with oysters. I can absolutely see that. And I think it would be good with a range of seafood dishes. A food wine for me – not one to be drunk on its own.
Pale gold in colour and with very long “legs” in the glass. The nose is dominated by pear – and very enticing it is too. Emma rightly served this out of order after the other whites and the Rose as it is such a big wine.
Very full bodied this is rich and round on the palate. The best white of the evening by a long distance. Again, like the Picpoul screaming out to be drunk with food. Perhaps a chicken dish with a cream sauce. Come pay day I think some of this will be headed to my reserves. TWS drink to date is 2021 but I think that’s very conservative. A definite 4* (out of 5) wine and good value at £14.50 a bottle.
I am a big fan of the Saint Eulalie red wines, so I was excited to see this on the tasting list. Made using the Saignee Method – which, as I understand it, entails running off juice from tanks that will go on to be fermented as red wine. Usually after 1-3 days of maceration with the skins. That leaves a pale pink rose and increases the skin to liquid ratio in the tank to deliver a darker red wine.
And, in a way, I think that sums up my problem with this wine. It does almost feel the lesser of two parts. I found some redcurrant on the nose, but the palate was quite subdued. It has good acidity, which suggests it might be quite food friendly. I heard a fellow taster comment that they wanted to like rose but were still searching for one they could get really excited about. I know that feeling…
The reds from Saint Eualie punch so far above their weight that perhaps I had unfair expectations of the rose. At £8.50 it is a good buy – just not the great one I’d hoped for.
Beautiful deep red. The nose is a real stewed fruit compote wonderfully rich and enticing. Tasting was actually quite a shock - not the rich palate I was expecting. Instead very, very dry to the extent it felt the fruit was fighting with the tannin for supremacy. We had a discussion on our table about which would ultimately win out. Tempting to put a bottle away for 3-5 years to find out.
Emma quite rightly pointed out this might be very different with say a steak - the protein softening the tannin. That recurring “needs food” theme again.
This was very, very dark - almost black at the core. Syrah dominant it has a very smoky dark fruit nose.
Like the Faugeres, there is a lot of tannin but in this case much better balanced with the fruit. The wine is raised all in tank so no oak flavours. Drink to date is 2023 but I think it will live well past that. In fact my guess is it needs 2-3 years more to really show its best.
I’ve read a lot about Katie Jones but this is the first of her wines I have tasted. It won’t be the last!
This really won me over. The nose is all plums with perhaps a hint of something like molasses in the background. Deep red it has a great balance of tannin and fruit and would be brilliant with a hearty red meat dish - beef or perhaps venison. My clear winner amongst the reds and by quite a distance.
I’ll say upfront that I struggled with this wine. Paler than the other two and almost brick red at the edge. The nose was really unusual. I found myself thinking back to a cough remedy popular in my childhood. Striking rather than enticing.
Words like unusual and challenging come to mind when tasting. I wanted to like it but couldn’t. For me it seemed a bit dried out and fading. Just not to my taste. Others seemed more impressed.
Talk about finishing on a high! Wow, this stuff is just brilliant. Very deep old gold with a maderised nose. Huge legs in the glass and incredible length. Much closer to Madeira than port in style this would be a wonderful and unusual match to any cheeseboard. In fact I am going to make sure I put some away for Christmas.
Overall a great opportunity to learn about the region. Three great finds out of 9 wines is a pretty high hit rate. Thanks again TWS for the opportunity. I’m trying to persuade Mrs @Lincoln i need to do the Piedmont masterclass next! Is anyone else booked on that?
I’ve tried Le Soula and also didn’t like it, despite the strong reviews its had from wine professionals. Think perhaps the novelty factor of it tasting unusual appeals to them more than me! My wife liked it though.
I tried some Le Soula whites at a tasting earlier this year and preferred them, although also not a ‘buy’.