South West France
If Bordeaux is the aristocracy of wines and Languedoc the minor royalty, these South West wines are landed gentry - complex and sophisticated, what they lack in refinement they more than make up for in terms of personality.
Ch Bellevue La Foret, Fronton, 2009 (£15.70 Grapevine Wine Services) 45% Négrette, 40% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark purple; dark fruit, truffley-vegetal damp undergrowth, roasted spices and a touch of sulphurous struck match. Sweet, ripe, cooked dark fruit, sweet spices, toasty oak, vanilla and bitter dark green garrigue herbs. Old-vine concentration.
Fresh acidity that just about manages to hold it all in check and assertive, firm, tannins. Benefits from aeration (better on the second day than on the first) and will age.
Expressive, enjoyable and makes a statement. Good.
Match with rustic, gamey foods, such as venison papardelle.
Domaine d'en Ségur, Cotes du Tarn, 2010 (HBV, £25) 80% Merlot 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark purple, bramble fruit, coffee grounds and sweet spices. Sweet vanilla, pepperiness, sweet ripe, slightly cooked plummy fruit and cassis. Good freshness and minerality.
Long, concentrated and focused; a blue-collar Pomerol. Soft, smooth texture, slightly grippy tannins on the finish.
Rather classier and more restrained than the Foret. Good.
Match with rare red meat, such as lamb chops or Chateaubriand.
Folie de Roi, Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, 2011 (£13.99, Le Bon Vin) 60% Petit Manseng, 30% Gros Manseng, 10% Petit Courbu
Good entry level sticky - ripe citrus, orange blossom and a touch of beeswax. Intense sweetness of overripe, cooked peaches, tropical citrus sweet spice and beeswax savouriness.
Lacks the deftness and complexity of a really assured sticky, but is priced accordingly.
Enjoyable, quaffable sweetie. Match with lemon torte or blue cheese.
All wines provided for review.
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