If the host of WBW 33 missed his own deadline for submission then it can only be because of all the comments left on his site. Participants of WBW 33 are showing great linking action and I couldn't resist clicking on each link as each one as it came in, reading up on other's tasting notes for Languedoc-Roussillon value wines while letting the post for my very own entry lag behind. This is obviously called host joy and I apologize if it equals participant misery (I'll do my best to corral an effective round-up over the weekend... meanwhile there's a round-up that's strictly self-serve: gotta love all those clickable links left in the comments!)
My glee in reading through the posts of WBW participants has been an enjoyable pastime but it has also been a relief -- seeing the depth and range of wines within this month's theme that are being blogged about is reassuring to me. From the beginning I wanted to help with a theme that according to some winos is considered somewhat obscure. I have to admit that I wondered if I would need to compensate with extra entries in case nobody showed up for the event. I thought maybe a good host would do that for the sake of the theme. So from the beginning I kept a tally of all the wines that I tasted that were on theme. Over the course of roughly a month, my secret tally grew and grew (see image at right). It isn't needed anymore thanks to participants. It's clear that no one will need to refer to it now (except maybe my doctor when he examines my liver).
Now I can see that my tally was something that helped give me greater understanding of the region, particularly regarding regional characteristics and also for how to shop for (sometimes hard-to-find) bottles. I hope that all those wines I drank didn't over-calibrate my palate, as can happen during any wine expo or theme tasting. Instead, I hope it made me more adept at drawing conclusions about the wine and the wine region, and I may consult it when summarizing and extrapolating during the round-up.
That is not to say that any participant jumping into the Midi scene can't generate insightful and helpful comments. In fact, I think that the unprepared taster can be the most honest. That's why blind tastings exist -- to be blind is to be unprepared. With that in mind, I think my tallied list only shows how much wine I've been drinking and buying and that I'm going to need to tone it down a bit very soon!
MY WBW 33 TASTING NOTES START HERE
Onward to the fruits of my labour, which is actually someone else's labour, the masterful harvesting hands at Château des Adouzes, a producer in Faugères which is one of the lesser appellations of Languedoc-Roussillon, lead by Jean-Claude Estève.
Château des Adouzes Faugères 2001 -- the sticker says 2005 (that's $20.05 actually) but this bottle is definitely a 2001. That vintage is one of the best in decades for the Languedoc and this wine showed signs of that, but only after some time. It's clear that this is value wine just in the way that it has what it takes to go the distance. Some 2001 bottles may be peaking or have peaked, but this one must have several years left in it. And of course I see this as an indicator of quality since this wine is already six years along and composed of grapes that typically don't require cellaring.
To the eye and nose, nothing much was remarkable at first. The aroma gradually sent out a cream soda nose and funky licorice. Tasting it was also a gradual process.
It was only after some diligent aeration that this red revealed its complexity and personality. And what personality it had. For the first time, I tasted chicken fat in a wine. I've gotten bacon and pork fat out of some of my favourite Coteaux du Languedoc wines. This was a first. The flavour profile was rounded out by nice ripe tomato notes and lavender. There was also licorice root (I often taste licorice but this is example was earthier -- definitely licorice root). All this means that there are serious earthy tones to this wine. Add to that grenadine and deliciously floral, and feral, flavours.
Of all the Midi wines I tasted (again I point you to my secret list), this late-bloomer was the real dynamo. Plus it has nice red fruit, shy as it may be at first. Although it is not just tomato I'm tasting, the fruit is rendered in a savoury almost vegetal format. So it's not a fruit bomb. I'm still calling it the bomb though.
Hints of carbon and an arc of palpable acid lend the entire package great balance and structure. There's beautiful length and grain on the tannins that are almost reminiscent of Dura-blended Syrah of France's Southwest. This is serious Syrah terroir and fine winemaking done in a characteristic French style. The descriptive record indicates that Adouzes's Faugères is half Carignan so it's remarkable to note that grape taking on a large role here too.
While Faugères isn't one of the Languedoc-Roussillon appellations that permit Bordelais grapes like Merlot (see Cabardès or Côte de la Malepère for that), you do get the sense that when you drink a Faugères wine like this you are in a zone not far from Bordeaux and its Southwest hinterland.
I selected the Adouzes to profile because it was the most interesting wine I've tasted in a while and also because it was such a pleasant surprise -- both in the way this 2001 has progressed into something substantial and also in how it delivers a unique flavour profile, one that I wasn't expecting.
So no doubt, it was a standout, showing off musky and earthy attributes that stand out from the other Languedoc-Roussillon wines I've been sampling lately. But in that sense it wasn't the standard-bearer for the Midi, which is why I'd like to end my post with another wine that perhaps best delivers Languedoc-Roussillon value wine.
BEST MID-PRICED WINE FROM THE MIDI?Château des Adouzes: Jean-Claude Estève, Roquessels, France. 13%.
The Château Mire L'Étang Cuvée des Ducs de Fleury Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape 2004 must be greatest example of Languedoc reliability and quality -- and at only $17.60 (in Canadian funds) it's a bonafide Languedoc-Roussillon value wine. It serves up everything I'd expect from the best this region has to offer: big red fruit, with smoke and anise bundled together alongside a healthy dose of acid, making it a breeze to serve at dinner.
This bottle comes from a specific sub-appellation of the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation called La Clape (named for a mountain). As a sub-appellation, it is primed to become its own appellation -- like Faugères is -- at some point in the future. That would be less of a mouthful on the label for this fantastic wine, and that would definitely be good so people can start asking for it by name!
Fleury d'Aude, France. 14%.