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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Domaine des Cassagnoles, 2009, Côtes de Gascogne IGP - Laithwaite's

I've had two bottles of this southern French white from Laithwaite's under their 100% satisfaction guarantee; drinking the second, I remember now why I didn't bother to write up the first.

Colombard is something of a workhorse grape and is generally distilled into Armagnac; its main claim to fame is that it retains some freshness even in the sweltering heat of a Gascon summer - noble, then, it is not.

So full marks for pluck to anyone who tries to make a decent table wine out of Colombard; sadly, however, the end result in this case is something of a curate's egg.

On the nose, it is herbaceous, pungent and mineral and rather similar to a New World Sauvignon. Initially, the palate is also quite full and honeyed yet crisp.

Unfortunately, it is on the mid-palate and finish where it all ends in disaster - tart, thin, mean and chalky, it is almost quite unpleasant, especially after the reasonably promising build-up.

Winemaker Gilles Baumann, originally from Alsace, writes on the back label that his aspiration for the wine is for it to be crisp, aromatic and a benchmark for the region.

He clearly has not quite succeeded yet; whilst the Alsace influence is clear here - it is indeed aromatic with typical Alsatian fullness and structure - he just needs to sort out the finish and he may then have something worth talking about. Sadly, however, the rest of this particular bottle is going in the cooking.

Interestingly, Wikipedia suggests the grape may be related to Chenin Blanc - that would certainly explain the mouth-stripping acidity; with a bit more time, the acidity fades, but then so do the aromatics.

Inexplicably, it has a medal from the Concours General Agricole de Paris 2010, whilst the Laithwaite's website describes the wine as their bestselling white for 15 years.

£7.49 (plus delivery) from Laithwaite's.


Laithwaite's - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/

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