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  • Natalie Shelley

The best of France

The Marlow Wine Society was privileged this month to have Martin Chapman presenting, sharing with us his extensive knowledge of wines garnered from five decades of serving in a multitude of roles in the wine business.

Martin is the owner of Watlington Fine Wines in Oxfordshire which imports selected wines, retails wine to the public and also wholesales wines across the UK via a second arm of the business - Peter Osborne Fine Wines.

Although Watlington Fine Wines stocks bottles from wine-makers around the world, the theme of this month’s tasting was French wines and Martin brought with him an excellent selection of eight from across different regions of France.

Wine 1 – Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Comté Leloup 2013 This special Muscadet, made from grapes grown on 100-year-old vines, is produced by the Cheréau-Carré winery in St Fiacre delivering a hint of gooseberries, pineapples and lemon rind with a whiff of butter on the nose and a long, mineral finish.

Wine 2 – Bourgogne Aligoté 2015 Normally blended with other grapes, this 100% Aligoté from Domaine Besancenot in Beaune, Burgundy has a fresh, clean, intense nose reminiscent of stewed apples and rhubarb, a nice fruitiness balanced with acidity and a lovely length and finish. Ideal as an aperitif combined with blackcurrant cordial to make Kir.

Wine 3 – Château Coujan Cépage Rolle Blanc 2017 2017, the first year that the Domaine de Coujan turned organic, has produced this white from the Cepage Rolle grape or Vermentino as it’s known outside France. Although showing a great difference from the previous years’ wines, this vintage delivers something crisp and dry on the palette with a hint of elderflower and sweet fruit on the nose and a light apple finish.

Wine 4 – Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée des Forgets 2016 This “mini Meursault in disguise” from Domaine Patrick Javillier is actually a classic Bourgogne Blanc in the style of Meursault. The rich, full bodied flavours are weighty with hints of apricots, lemon rind and toast – all wrapped up in a generous and well-balanced finish. This proved the most popular white of the evening.

Wine 5 – Château de Parenchère ‘Clairet’ dark rosé 2017 From the AOC Bordeaux Clairet region, this “saignées” rosé, so called as it’s produced from the musts run off just after vatting of the red wine begins, is particularly aromatic and has a very deep red fruit colour with good body and exuberant fruitiness.

Wine 6 – Savignus Carignan 2016 Domaine Castan located in the Cazouls les Beziers hills in the beautiful territory of AOC Languedoc, cultivated Carignan vines planted in the 1960s to create this medium-bodied deliciously fruity, delicate mineral wine. Pairs nicely with duck, turkey and lamb dishes.

Wine 7 – Château Haute Fontaine 2015 An intensely dense, deep red, very lightly oaked wine fermented from Syrah grapes presents a smooth, clean spice on the palette with full and complex aromas and flavours capturing the natural beauty of the vineyard.

Wine 8 – Château Roc de Cambes, 2010 By far the most expensive wine on the evening’s list was this sumptuous Bordeaux from the now unquestionably finest producer in the AOC Côtes de Bourg, Francois Mitjavile. The grapes used – 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc - are harvested as late a possible and then vinified in temperature-controlled concrete vats before maturing in oak barrels for 15 to 18 months. The result is a deep, earthy richness reminiscent of warm fruitcake on the nose. The palate echoes the aromatics with pure, concentrated, balanced tannins coated in rich dark fruit.

Not surprisingly, this wine was voted the most popular red by members at the tasting.

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