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Tasting notes from the Languedoc

In Andrew Barr’s provocative book, Wine Snobbery, (a book that really needs a whole post) published many years ago he refers to the narcissism of wine writers who publish their tasting notes. For Mr Barr they should be used only as an aide memoire. He does have a point. Most tasting notes are either dull, maddeningly vague or inappropriately poetic. But some writers seem to have a way of turning smells and tastes into words that make you long to try the wines they are describing. This chap who writes mainly about German wine is particularly good. It’s not a skill that I possess.

Occasionally though I have moments of inspiration. It’s normally when i’ve had a little too much to drink but am not yet drunk. Having someone to bounce ideas off helps. I attended the Wine Society Languedoc tasting on Monday with my dear old Dad and the writer Toby Clements – best known for writing a spoof of the Da Vinci code called the Asti Spumante Code. In the spirit of unbridled narcissism, here are some of my tasting notes:

Corbieres-Boutenac ‘Atal sia’ Chateau Ollieux-Romanis £14.50

I thought it tasted of olive tapenade rather like a Greek Xinomavro. My father said liquid biltong. Either way it was dark, uncompromising and not altogether enjoyable.

Montpeyroux, La Jasse, Dom. la Jasse Castel 2008 £14.50

This wine smelt strongly of turpentine though not in an unpleasant way. Toby went further and thought it smelt like his Dad’s shed with notes of paint, Woodbines and illicit pornography.

Montpeyroux, La Pimpanela 2008 from the same Domaine £9.75

The smell was gamey. This is normally a bit of a catch all term for strong smells but this actually smelt of on-the-turn game. On the palate this continued. My notes say ‘rotting flesh, over the hill green pheasant.’

Finally one that I could not come up with anything esoteric to say, as it was just plain delicious.

Montepeyroux, Divem, from the same Domaine £22

My notes are the usual vagaries: strawberries, savoury, sweet fruit at finish. Not very helpful to anyone. Then i’ve drawn a little heart and written ‘classy.’

By Henry

I worked in the wine trade and publishing before becoming a freelance writer and broadcaster. My work has appeared in the Spectator, the Guardian, the Oldie and Food & Wine magazine. I now works as features editor on the Master of Malt blog. Ihave been on BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 and Monocle Radio, and a judge for the BBC Radio 4’s Food & Farming Awards and for the Fortnum & Mason food and drink awards 2018. My book Empire of Booze: British History through the Bottom of a Glass won Fortnum & Mason debut drink book 2017. My second, The Home Bar, was published in October 2018.

8 replies on “Tasting notes from the Languedoc”

Another one I’d’ve bought, and I remember this only because I gave it two ticks, was the Cotes de Rousillion Blanc, Coume Marie, Preceptorie de Centernach, 2009. It was about a tenner a bottle, but I think that’s okay for white wine, which I drink less of. It was restrained but also quite refreshing, I remember, and came in a bottle that aped good Burgundy.

Yes that was one of my favourites too though I couldn’t think of anything funny or clever to say about it so didn’t put it in the article.

No, nor me, but that didn’t stop me. Perhaps I didn’t read the rules closely enough.

Yes it tasted a bit like when you first try Marmite as a child and go eurggghhhhh but a little part of your brain says ‘maybe I’ll try it again in a few year.’

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