Another Tasty World of Anne Gros

Few nights ago (on 9th Apr 2014), I was very blessed and proud to host an intimate tasting with few really lovely wine enthusiasts.  Why am I proud?  Cause pride is a funny thing, some people will brag about their new limited edition of 100 pieces $50k watch, while others proudly show off their 5k vintage watch bargain from a auction house. Tasting a crazy expensive and rare bottle can be such a wonderful experience while it is surely a thrill to me, to found something truly amazing at 20Euro a bottle (especially when it feels like a 40euro one!) and share these treasures with friends and family.

Generally these finds are from lesser-known regions that don’t have the cachet of Burgundy or Bordeaux. The Languedoc-Rousillon region in southern France is one of my treaure hunting ground. What we opened and tasted this time? The whole range of Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot Minevois, from the silky yet structured La 50/50 which Anne Gros likes to call a “true” table wine to the 100+ year old Carignan, Les Carretals.

the whole range of Anne's Minervois wine
the whole range of Anne’s Minervois wine
At Anne's domaine in Minervois
Vine at Anne’s domaine in Minervois

Apart having a lot of fun at the secluded Hip Cellar, our tasting definitely reconfirmed Anne Gros’ talent in her wine making in her southern range.   Winemaker Anne Gros of Vosne-Romanee having the reputation as one of the finest producers in Burgundy making wine that is silky, clean and always expertly express where they come from, it seems very clear that she as well inducing these characteristic in her Minevois range which we found very interesting.

Minervois 2-73
the 50/50 – Anne Gros (left) & Jean-Paul Tollot (right)

What we’ve experienced here (her first vintage is 2008 (to answer to our wine expert friend Sebestian Chevalier)) is plenty of southern Languedoc soul wrapped with the silky touch and suppleness found uniquely in Burgundy.   Gros and Tollot are taking Minervois more seriously than it has ever been taken — these wines take the Languedoc to a whole new level of quality and complexity.

Finesse and precision are the two main characteristics of this new collection from Minervois, words more often used for Gros’ Burgundian crus.

Here is my tasting note for Anne’s Minervois range 

photo-6
What we tasted : Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot Minevois, from the silky yet structured La 50/50 which Anne Gros likes to call a “true” table wine to the 100+ year old Carignan, Les Carretals

 L’O de la vie 2011– fresh with nice acidity, balanced and very tasty. Definitely a great table wine. 100% Syrah from 4 years old vine.  89/100. (16 euro/bottle)

La 50/50 2011– a blend of 35-year-old Cargignans, 50-year-old Cinsaults and a 22-year-old Grenaches. I was thinking “Wow this is probably the most balanced, unusual Languedoc wine I have ever tasted” Real hand-crafted one with great fruits, intensity and depth. Anne Gros likes to call this silky yet structured, concentrated red a “true” table wine—a bottle that encourages one glass to follow another during the course of a leisurely homemade meal.  91/100.  (18 euro/bottle) 

Les Fontanilles 2009 – sits on a complex terroir mostly sandstones, oriented northwest, made up of small patches of vineyards surrounded by scrublands of pine trees, wild thyme and rosemary, on which grow the 4 varietals of the domaine with age from 22 to 50 years old. Les Fontanilles is a cuvee that combines maturity and freshness and offers a bouquet of red and black fruits, and peppery spices. Tobacco, savory with great intensity. A wine may need a bit more time to perform at its best. 90/100. (18 euro/bottle) 

La Ciaue 2009 – on a terroir consisting of limestone and clay soils, south facing, A blend of 12 year old Grenaches,25 year old Syrahs, 50 year old Carignans and 108 year old Carignans with 60% oak. Deeply purpled, I smells violets, cocoa, dark fruits and hint of vanilla . intense and well-balanced. good acidity and poignant minerals, a wine full of great energy. 91/100. (22 euro/bottle) 

Les Carretals 2010 – this is a 1.07 Ha of Carignans and Grenaches from 1909. 100% oaken with 1/3 new. A wine with awesome minerals, complexity and energy testifying to the efficacy of these 100+ years old Carignan. It is intense but same time subtle with dark cherries, black fruits and spices. beautifully defined.  definitely good value at around 300hkd / bottle (30euro)  92/100.  (30 euro/bottle)

the beautiful south of France making quite a lot of hidden gems
the beautiful south of France making quite a lot of hidden gems
Wine Facts of the Languedoc-Rousillon region
The history of Languedoc wines can be traced to the first vineyards planted along the coast nearNarbonne by the early Greeks in the fifth century BC. Along with parts of Provence, these are the oldest planted vineyards in France.  In fact, during both World Wars the Languedoc was responsible for providing the daily wine rations given to French soldiers.  Among the reds, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvedre are major grapes of the Corbières,Faugères, Fitou, and Minervois AOCs.
Producing more wine than any other region in the world, the Languedoc has long been known for its “good but not the best” quality of wine. The area has around 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) under vines.  (As recently as 2001, the region produced more wine than the entire United States). 

Despite the general reputation as a mass producer, parts of the Languedoc wine industry are experiencing commercial success due to outside investment and an increased focus on quality.  Regardless of the financial influx and the wonderful terroir of the different appellations, the increase in quality is also allied to some extraordinarily gifted winemakers. 

Minervois is one of the standouts in this new wave of quality over quantity,  Minervois presents itself as a great value wine for summer red wine drinkers.  It is usually paired well with smokey sausage, grilled meat and spiced dishes.  

Other Languedoc suggestions: 

Domaine des Terres Falmet, Cinsault, 2008 ( 8 euro/bottle) Self-taught winemaker making some full bodied crunchy perfumed Cinsault. Very reasonably priced wine.

Hecht & Bannier, Minervois, 2009 (15 euro/bottle) Mostly Syrah and Grenache, with some drops of Mourvedre and Carignan. Scents of smooth ripe blackberry and black olive ooze out of the glass, and are followed on the palate by big black fruit, currants, and light smoke.

Chateau Tour Boisée, “Marielle et Fréderique,” Minervois, 2010 (15 euro/bottle) Mostly Grenache, with judicious blending of Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre, a classic Minervois: deep black cherry greets you, followed by a meaty texture with a subtle smokiness

Jean-Luc Terrier and Christian Collvray (10 euro/bottle) They are better known for their exemplary White Burgundies fromDomaine Des Deux Roches. In recent years, however, this quality-conscious duo have been producing an outstanding range of wines from 30-year-old vines on slopes 500 metres above sea level south of Limoux in the Languedoc region.

Jean-Louis Denois Grande Cuvée Limoux (13 euro/bottle) Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, it’s packed with plum and blackberry fruit, with shavings of bittersweet chocolate and coffee qualities that complement the fruit. Easy to drink and easy on the wallet. What more could you ask for?

See you sooner than later in another fun tasting or dinner!
For getting hold of Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot Minevois, you can contact: carol.thehedonist@gmail.com  or +852 93093266 

Hip Cellar
Hong Kong, 5/F, Block C, Sea View Estate2-8 Watson Road, North Point +852 2979 0108
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