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Three Reds and a Noble Half

South from Seend ridge to the brickworks near Westbury

We batten down the hatches and wait for the snow that's been forecast for tomorrow. I'll be attending the Australia Day tasting in London: sunny inside; chilly out.

Sunday night - the eve of a day in the Brecon Beacons searching for wildlife - was cause to open a decent bottle or so, an old friend to stay quite excuse enough.

First out of the blocks was 2001 Côte-Rôtie from Jamet neatly followed by the 1997 Mas la Plana by Torres, both decanted a couple of hours in advance. A half bottle of Sauternes was banished to the fridge to cool off.

But - hold the 'phone - our guest brought along a bottle, too, and not the sort that one can slip into the wine rack for later drinking; our guest made that quite clear! So let's start with that:

2001 La Petite Sibérie, Côtes de Roussillon Villages, Domaine du Clos des Fées

Here's the question re this wine: what do they do to this stuff to give it an £80 ticket on the shelf of a wine shop??!? I mean, it's a French regional red isn't it? Well, having tasted it I could say that it's a French regional red, the same way I could say that Mozart played the piano or Noah enjoyed messing about in boats. Scales fell from the eyes; a moment of satori was experienced. Here's the SP:

Opaque and rather miffed looking in the glass; a sort of tetchy mulberry colour with a very narrow band at the rim.

The nose is more than a simple aromatic sensation, more a balaclava that sits plumply on one's head. Sweetly ripe smells of red and black fruit sprinkled with spice. Dense fruit aromas, including some glacée plums. It hints at liquorice and there's a swathe of minerals.

The palate is leathery, rather meaty, but there are floral notes as well. It might put one in mind of a well-groomed gorilla gambolling in an Alpine meadow. Soooo rich; soooo concentrated. And such mineral intensity. What fine tannin there is is eclipsed by the thick fruit. A Yorkshireman might comment "By 'eck" or similar. And he'd be right. N.B. This is almost all very old vine Grenache with a sprinkling of syrah and mourvèdre.

After a suitable period in which we composed ourselves, we poured the Côte-Rôtie. It was quite ready, complex, displaying delicious crisp raspberry fruit; medium weight. Long; cool.

The '97 Mas la Plana? Nicely pure with blackcurrant Cabernet fruit and a pleasing crispness Long, too. I wish I'd taken tasting notes of these two, as well as the half of Sauternes. When was the last time you, dear reader, tasted the wine of Château Doisy-Dubroca? I've had this wine - the 1990 - for 13 years or so and it's deepened in colour and is utterly wonderful still in a nutty, dried-fruity, orangy sort of way i.e. very proper Sauternes in full flow. Hurrah! A good night; a shabby morning thereafter.
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