amarchinthevines

Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc


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My Christmas wine

 

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I was recently honoured to be asked to contribute to the blog of well known Irish wine expert Frankie Cook in a series of posts about wines people would choose for Christmas. Naturally I chose a Mas Coutelou and, in particular, my favourite wine of all from Jeff.

Here is the article but I recommend a visit to Frankie’s website and reading articles from other contributors too, there is a rich variety of wine selected from all around the world as well as lots of other good reading.

“Christmas is about family and friends, sharing and reflection on the year which is fading. My choice of wine reflects these. I have lived most of the last 3 years in the Languedoc and spent much of the time helping at and writing about Mas Coutelou. Jean-Francois (Jeff) Coutelou makes a series of excellent natural wines but for this special occasion I shall choose La Vigne Haute 2013.

The wine is pure Syrah, it is labelled as a Vin De France because Jeff chooses to avoid the rules of appellation status which would, for example, mean that a single grape wine would not be allowed. Syrah is one of the main five Languedoc red grapes along with Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. The grapes which make La Vigne Haute are grown in a vineyard called La Garrigue planted on two sides of a ridge, Grenache facing the southerly sun and Syrah, more sheltered and cool, facing north.

2013 was the last vintage of La Vigne Haute, if the grapes and quality are not high enough they will be used in other wines. (Happily, 2017 will see a new vintage!). The 2013 offers warmth, long flavours of red fruits and soft tannins, great with Christmas food. Made by my friend, shared with family and a reminder of so many happy days in Puimisson.”

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Mas Coutelou in the UK

 

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After an absence of two to three years I am delighted to say that Mas Coutelou wines are available once more in the UK. I won’t go over the reasons for the absence but instead celebrate their return.

Leon Stolarski will be the main source of the wines for UK customers from his online store. There is a real cross section of the range with whites, reds and, a true treasure, the Vieux Grenache. This is the page where you will find the wines. I am delighted to have been the connection between Jeff and Leon and I have already placed an order to restock some wines in my collection and add some that have been recently bottled like the excellent Flambadou 2016.

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Leon tasting in Puimisson in June

I know that Jeff was also keen to send wines to Noble Rot wine bar in London as one of the owners, Mark Andrew, was the man who first imported his wines into the UK when he worked with his former company. Noble Rot garners rave reviews for its food and wine list as well as its wine magazine. I really must make a visit soon.

So, no excuses. It’s time for the UK to embrace Mas Coutelou.


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Explosive

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In September I gave a talk to The Tuesday Club in Pézenas about the 2017 vendanges. Jeff bottled some Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon for me, the latter still fermenting. When I opened a bottle at the talk it overflowed because of the CO2 being produced. Well, on Saturday I opened the other bottle and I did say it might produce a lot of foam so I opened it over the sink. In fact all but about 5cm of the bottle flew out of the bottle and went everywhere. The power of fermentation! Thank you to Linda and Iain for helping to clean up. I can say that the wine which survived was very good!!

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On a cleaner note. I don’t often buy wine from the high street these days. However, I read a report about a Georgian white vinified in amphorae or qvevri as they are called in Georgia. As orange wines have been one of my highlights of 2017 I decided to buy a bottle. Well, it was really good. Made from the Rkatsiteli grape it had a lovely long flavour of pear and apple with nice tannins and real character. Hats off to Marks & Spencer, I went back and bought some more bottles.

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