Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CHATEAU de FLAUGERGUES ... Innovation, Style

 Château de Flaugergues Cuvée Sommelière Rouge 2012
Château de Flaugergues 
Cuvée Sommelière Rouge 2012
La Méjanelle
Languedoc France

65% Grenache Noir. 30% Syrah. 5% Mourvèdre.

Deep garnet/black in color with overtones of magenta, an immediate presence. Rich plum, cassis and spice on the nose with earthy fruits, bark and dark cocoa on the palate. Silky mouth feel the moment the juice touches the tongue, no doubt from the syrah. Blackberry and herbaceous spice follow. Given a little more time, hints of mossy forest floor along with plenty of acidity for a certain buoyancy.  An elegant package bursting with vivacious, lush, saucy fruits and a spicy finish balanced beautifully with concentration and length. Terrific! 3-4 years resting in the bottle should bring it to full maturity.

I recently picked up a bottle of the 2012 in a moment of spontaneity, as I had much enjoyed previous vintages. I absolutely loved this one. Little did I know that mere weeks later I would be in a car with Pierre & Marie Colbert, owners of this historic Languedoc Estate, making our way up to Belfast for the Easterly Wine Show! They were special guests that day, on hand and available to speak with buyers of the trade, mostly from the mid-coast region of Maine.

Marie & Pierre Colbert w/tasters at Easterly show, Belfast, ME
Built in the countryside near the city of Montpellior in Mejanelle' (one of the twelve terroirs found in the Côteaux du Languedoc)Château de Flaugergues has been in the Colbert family since 1696. A stunning piece of historic architecture surrounded by gorgeous gardens and home to the Estate grown vineyards, as well as their restaurant, Folia. Grapevines and Olive trees were cultivated here over 2000 years ago by the Romans, and according to Pierre, the Languedoc is the first French area where wine was produced. Terroir consists of galets roulés, or 'les Grés', round pebbles or rocks with alluvial traces from deposits in the Rhone delta. These retain heat from the plentiful Mediterranean sun and release it at night. Vineyards also receive a distinctive Maritime influence, with cooling breezes. 

In addition to grenache noir, syrah, mourvèdre, carignan, cinsault, merlot, cab sauvignon, grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne, rolle and viognier, Pierre spoke of some new varietals they are working on with L'INRA - all vinifera crosses ... MarselanArinarnoa and Egiodola (Pays Basque) ... these will be small production wines. Stay tuned!

Jack Scully (Easterly Wine) w/Marie & Pierre Colbert (Flaugergues)
Languedoc is near and dear to Pierre's heart. He states that while the Languedoc region has the largest area of vineyards, 250,000 - 300,000 hectares to Bordeaux's 100,000 and Champagne's 10,000 for example, it has a way to go to achieve the notoriety of these regions. It is I believe safe to say, that he would love his region to attain such value and worth. On the other hand, he is not bound by laws that hamper the creation of his wines. In Languedoc, Pierre envisions a new world style, more progressive, less locked in to tradition and not reactive to the market. As he states "Bordeaux is in a straight jacket in terms of winemaking". In his words "tradition is dead".  Instead he sees Change and Innovation as his challenging yet creative tools. I found his wines to have an exciting freshness of the new, with the old world pulsating at the heart. What better combination?

Also tasted at the Easterly show was Château de Flaugergues Languedoc Rose', 2014. Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Syrah. Light salmon chiffon in color with hints of wild strawberry blossoms on the nose. Round, lush, rich and clean on the palate, with purity of fruit. Just enough acidity for freshness. Creamy on the tongue. Delicious wild sweet berries. Acidity in back supporting all that luscious creaminess. Bracingly clean finish. 2-3 months on the lees and late bottled ... but not too late!

Château de Flaugergues Rose' 2014
If you're lucky enough to still find this, (hopefully more will be coming our way in June), try: 

Rayr Wine, Rockport; Francine, Camden; Sawyer's Specialties, SW Harbor; Market Basket, Rockport; 
Treats, Wiscasset; Meridians, Fairfield
Blue Hill Wine Shop, Blue Hill

The Cuvée Sommelière Rouge 2012 can 
be found in Portland at RSVP. Around $16/btl. 

Other venues around the state include: Belfast Co-op, Belfast; BookStacks, Bucksport; Rooster Brother, Global Beverages & John Edwards Market, Ellsworth; French & Brawn, Camden; Now You're Cooking, Bath; Rising Tide Community Market, Damariscotta; Solo Bistro, Bath; Five Islands Farm, Georgetown; Black Sheep Wine & Beer Shop, Harpswell; Wine Cellar & Rockland Food Service, Rockland; Southport General Store, Southport; French Cellar, Machias; Bootleggers, Topsham; Foundation Wine Cellar, Freedom; Meridians, Fairfield; The CLOWN, York

These wines are distributed in Maine by Easterly Wine in Belfast and imported by Ideal Wine & Spirits Co., Medford, MA

Tammy Scully (Easterly Wine, Belfast)

Easterly Wine is a smaller distributor located in mid-coast Maine. You can trust theirs to be a selective, discerning palate, choosing uniques wines of excellent character. Founder Jack Scully is a true vanguard, bringing wine knowledge and great wines to Maine since 2001. His wife Tammy, with her excellent organizational savvy handles the business end. Their team is also extremely knowledgeable. They work with family owned/operated vineyards/wineries and truly know where the wines come from. For more information: 30 Washington St, Belfast, ME 04915. (207) 338-9917. In Maine, look for their label on the back of the bottle!

Friday, May 8, 2015


Field Blend 2012 
Skin fermented
Waipara Gorge, New Zealand

Have you had Orange wine?! When my friend Brendon called spontaneously and asked me if I'd like to try some wine later, I said sure! I'll put together some food ... come on over. He made me close my eyes and taste ... ahhh ... Elixir?? What is that?! This Orange wine or wine grown on Limestone in Waipara Gorge, New Zealand was a complete enigma, utterly delightful! Ripe with personality, complexity, balance and approachability, this is a unique blend of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Semillon, savoury to the tongue and lilting to the Spirit! Notes of orchard fruits, juicy ripe peach and pink grapefruit first come to mind. Later white pepper, orange blossom, nectarine and even essence of watermelon. Beautifully integrated!  

Brendon Pringle with The HERMIT RAM from his native New Zealand

Winemaker is Theo ColesSome time after study and travels, he connected with Gareth Renowden, owner of Limestone Hills Vineyard in the Waipara Gorge and they agreed to make some wine together. The farm where vineyard is located also grows truffles and olive oil. Some thoughts ring true ... Small scale winemaking project. Naturally farmed. Hand-made, bottled & labeled. Labour of Love. Skin fermented orange field blend. Wines on Limestone. The juice spends two months on skins, with time in a concrete barrel after fermentation. Artwork for the label came from an etching he purchased while traveling. Expressive of a unique straightforwardness and individuality in wild and natural terrain. THE HERMIT RAM. Completely fitting!

Brendon Pringle & Ned Swain (DEVENISH Wines) tasting the Hermit Ram & Georgetown Pinot

Single Vineyard Pinot Noir from Georgetown Vineyard
Georgetown Vineyard
Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
Central Otago, New Zealand

As Brendon continued his search for unique wines from his native New Zealand to bring back to the states, he called upon Ian Dee, Owner of Georgetown Vineyard. He recalls he was a warm, humble man who welcomed him in to his small mud tasting room hut. For this reason, and based on how good the newer vintages were that he had tasted, he was moved to purchase this particular pinot noir, vintage 2009 and had not tasted it until this moment!

A gorgeous, elegant expression of Pinot Noir, deep garnet in color. Voluminous with cherry aromas, smoky cedar and gamey nuances ... soft on the tongue, slightly spicy and ripe balanced fruit. Warm, harmonious, bright yet earthy. Full round luxuriating finish ... 
Fermented with indigenous yeast, only 283 cases made. And this the last bottle in existence for this vintage. Special! 

Georgetown Vineyard is located in the South Island region of New Zealand, near the entrance to Kawarau Gorge next to the Kawarau River in Cromwell, Central Otago. Climate is Continental vs. Maritime, with hot summers and cold winters. This hand crafted, single vineyard wine is a true expression of its terroir, according to viticulturist Ian Dee. Grapes are planted in the tradition of Burgundy, with narrow rows, short trunks and very low yielding vines. 

This particular vintage was made with renown winemaker Duncan Forsyth, from Mount Edward Wines, who uses no chemicals with as little intervention as possible in his wines. He uses organic and biodynamic practices to ensure health of the vineyards. As Central Otago soils consist mostly of schist, loess and alluvial gravels, with little organic matter and low rainfall, the beneficial nutrients and minerals needed to nourish the vines are way down deep in the subsoil. Without the use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides his vines are much healthier, with roots able to forage deep down for all the nutrients they need ... and I daresay for all that expression of terroir!

As if guided by the Wine Angels that day, I chose some fresh sockeye salmon with salad of mixed arugula greens, herbs, shaved carrot, etc. This paired miraculously with both of the wines.

These are some of the most soulful and stunning wines I've tasted from New Zealand. They are not yet available here. If I were you I would start pestering your local retailers, distributors and importers ... Bring it!