Produced deep within the Languedoc Roussillon region of southern France, this wine demonstrates just how difficult blind-tasting wines can be. I tasted this blind with a few friends, all of whom know a fair bit about wine – they’ve got qualifications and everything – and we all agreed that this was from the New World. Depending on who you asked, it had the softened edges and huge fruit of an Australian blend, or maybe showed the winery methods of the larger South African producers, or even the power of a Californian blockbuster.
(Side-note: they say that blind people’s other senses are enhanced. Do blind people make better wine-tasters? Seems that even a blind wine-taster doesn’t know.)
Fair to say, we were stumped. Despite some suggestions of it possibly being a southern Rhone, the one thing we were all agreed on is that it wasn’t from ‘regional’ southern France.
There are three possible reasons for us being totally wrong: one, we’re all morons. That’s probably the case in general, but actually our hit-rate is usually pretty reasonable when blind tasting; we’d expect to at least get vaguely the right continent. Two, the ‘Parkerisation‘ of wine has now reached the level that we can’t actually tell the difference between historically different wine regions any more. I think there is an element of this, no matter how much Parker objects. It’s not surprising that he rated this highly (93 points) – it’s pretty much his style in a nutshell, all huge black fruit and clean tannin.
Three, the average standard of Languedoc Roussillon is so far below this wine that we didn’t even consider it as an option. With a few notable exceptions, Languedoc Roussillon makes vast quantities of cheap wines for bargain-bin bottom-shelf supermarket purchases.
Henceforth, this is one of those exceptions. Belying its £9 price-tag, this is a superb wine. It has a clean, youthful nose full of blackberries, cassis and a slight red apple tinge to it. Once you take a sip, the fruit hits you – blackberry dominates until the peppery notes come through leaving your mouth almost tingling by the finish through soft tannin and surprisingly low acidity. And the finish is long – far longer than you’d reasonably expect from any wine under ten pounds a bottle.
This is a blend of Syrah and Grenache, and it brings out the best of both grapes. You get the soft, round palate of the Grenache and the power and spiciness of the Syrah. I still maintain that it doesn’t feel particularly French, but honestly, who cares? I’m guessing this will have run out of stock by now, as it was only made in relatively small quantities, but should you ever see it I recommend you snap it up immediately.
Score – 17/20