Leon Stolarski Fine Wines
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Languedoc Red Wine (AOC/AOP)
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Online Wine Shop  >  Languedoc Red Wine (IGP/VdP/VdT)

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Vins de Pays
IGP/Vins de Pays
There was a time when any French wine with aspirations to quality needed to conform to the strict wine laws of the "Appellation d'Origine Contrôllée" (AOC) - recently reformed and renamed Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP). The most important - not to mention restrictive - factor has always been the pernitted grape varieties. No matter how good a wine is, if it is to qualify as AOC/AOP, it can only be made from certain permitted grape varieties. The "Vins de Pays" (literally translated as "country wines") denomination was created in the early 1970's, to enable wines made from "other" grape varieties to be made, free from the restrictions of the AOC's, but with a level of quality way above mere "table wine" status. The Vin de Pays denomination was itself recently superseded by the "Indication Géographique Protégée" (IGP). Frankly, little has changed, except fior the name! Pays d'Oc is the best known of the VDP/IGP's (and covers virtually the whole of Languedoc/Roussillon).  Others may use the départment name (Hérault, Aude, Gard, etc) whilst many better and more innovative (though less well-known) wines are sold under the local VDP/IGP, which normally takes the name of a small river, town, other local feature or sub-region. Many of these wines (whether from a single variety or a blend of two or more) can be delicious, complex and, in some cases, truly world-class. Indeed, some of southern France's most famous and iconic wines are "humble" Vins de Pays - Trévallon and Daumas Gassac being prime examples.

Domaine Turner Pageot 48H 2016 Vin de France
Turner Pageot 48H 2016
Vintage
2016

Region Gabian, north of Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry, deeply-coloured rosé or "clairet" 
Grapes 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Cold cuts, light meat dishes, grilled sardines, curries
Next day
Still fine
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Clairet is a term the Bordelais use for a light red wine, or a dark(er) rosé. The method is basically saignée - free-run juice from the red wine-making process - but taken only after an extended 48 hour maceration (hence the name 48H). The colour is more of a light ruby red than rosé - and indeed it is closer in style to a red wine, offering masses of juicy cherry, raspberry, orange, tobacco and garrigue herb aromas. In the mouth, it has genuine body and depth, with ripe raspberry and blood orange flavours, a gently creamy texture, a touch of spice, plenty of cherry-skin acidity, a modicum of tannin and a surprisingly long, spicy finish. All of which makes it a perfect match for a multitude of dishes. A delicious wine! Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £12.25 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine Turner Pageot B815 2014 Vin de France
Turner Pageot B815 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Gabian, north of Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red, full-bodied, aged 1 year in oak barrels
Grapes 95% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Lamb, beef, duck, liver
Next day
Even better
Drink 2018-2030
From a single, north-facing vineyard, on limestone soil, winemaker Emmanuel Pageot calls this his 'grand cru'. It actually takes a day in the decanter for all of its subtleties to reveal themselves. Reading through my tasting note for the 2012 vintage, I am struck by how very similar this 2014 is. Once again, we have myriad aromas of red berry and cherry, garrigue herbs, flowers, damp earth and subtle leather and spice notes. The palate is crammed full of fresh and crystallised bramble and raspberry flavours, with a hint of orange, subtle herb and spice nuances and an equally subtle streak of saline minerality. With fine, ripe, tea-like tannins and mouth-watering acidity, this is another very fine wine, which can either be enjoyed young (though preferably decanted 24 hours in advance) or aged for a good few years. Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £22.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Turner Pageot G230 2015 Vin de France
Turner Pageot G230 2015
Vintage
2015

Region Gabian, north of Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red, medium/full-bodied, aged 1 year in oak barrels
Grapes 100% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Beef, game, duck, liver
Next day
Even better
Drink 2018-2030
It's Grenache, Jim, but not as we know it. Unlike B815 (above), which is grown on limestone soil, this is grown on schiste - the same terroir as nearby Faugères. And the difference between the two cuvées is remarkable - this is lighter in colour, even more elegant and really rather Burgundian in both structure and (dare I say it?) flavour profile. Red cherry, redcurrant and wild strawberry aromas and flavours are augmented by notes of soft spices, tobacco, polished old wood and a hint of orange peel. With subtle gamey, earthy and high notes, it really is very complex and elegant - medium/full rather than big-bodied, with fine, lapsang tea-like tannins, plenty of mouth-watering orange/lime/cherry acidity and a very long, spicy/minty finish. All-in-all, this is an utterly lovely wine, which serves to underline winemaker Emmanuel Pageot's assertion that Grenache is - or is at least capable of being - the "Pinot of the Languedoc". An utterly gorgeous wine. Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £22.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Les Vignes de l'Arque Terroir de l'Arque 2017 IGP Pays d'Oc
Vignes de l'Arque Terroir de l'Arque 2017
Vintage
2017

Region Pays d'Oc, west of Uzès, in the Gard
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied. Aged in vat
Grapes Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Roasted meats, charcuterie, spaghetti bolognaise, cheese
Next day
As good
Drink Now to 2021

100% Grenache, made in a way that brings out the fresh, youthful fruit. Fairly light in colour - bright ruby red - it reeks of fresh raspberries, blackberries and black cherries, with notes of damp earth and fine eau de vie. The flavours are beautifully ripe, but not overly rich, with ripe, gently rustic tannins and good acidity, making for a balanced wine, which carries its 14.5% abv well, and is actually rather refreshing, especially when lightly chilled.

 

Price:  £10.25 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Les Vignes de l'Arque Cuvée des Boissières 2016 IGP Pays d'Oc
Vintage
2016
 
Region Pays d'Oc, west of Uzès, in the Gard
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied. Aged in oak barrels for 9 months
Grapes 100% Merlot
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Entrecote steak, game, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Now or to 2024 and beyond

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Bordeaux grape varieties (this is 100% Merlot) really do make for lovely wines, when grown in Languedoc, because ripeness is never a problem. To be fair, this 2016 is less Bordeaux in character and perhaps more Italian (in a blind tasting, I might be in Super-Tuscan country) insofar as it has bags of vivacious cherry and plum fruit, with subtle oaky aromas and flavours, with notes of black pepper, herbs and curry spices, not to mention a truly mouth-watering core of cherry skin acidity. It really is a remarkably refreshing red wine, but with a genuine depth and complexity. A cracking wine!

 

Price:  £11.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Giroflet Cinsault 2014 IGP Pays de l'Hérault
Giroflet Cinsault 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, aged 6 months in vat
Grapes 100% Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
12.5%
Food Red and white meats, pizza, cold cuts, cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
From a tiny (0.07 of a hectare) which produces just 500 bottles. Who says Cinsault is only good for making rosé? Not us - we already import red Cinsault wines from a couple of other growers, and this is a worthy addition indeed. The nose is floral, heady, spicy, smoky and gently tarry, with a hint of new leather and absolutely crammed full of summer pudding and fresh bread aromas. The palate offers myriad raspberry, strawberry and red cherry flavours, with a sprinkle of white pepper, allspice and a touch of fine eau de vie. It is delightfully fresh and fruity, in the manner of a young cru Beaujolais, but slightly richer and full of Languedoc warmth and charm. Whilst dangerously drinkable on its own, it is also the perfect accompaniment to an entrecote steak, sautéed potatoes and a mixed salad. Yum!
 

Price:  £10.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Giroflet Le Petit Giroflet 2014 IGP Pays de l'Hérault
Petit Giroflet 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, aged 6 months in vat
Grapes 100% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red and white meats, pizza, cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Made from a plot of young Grenache vines, covering just 0.3 of a hectare, with less than 2,000 bottles produced. A rather intoxicating mix of ripe black and red fruits, garrigue herbs, damp earth, freshly-baked bread and fine eau de vie. The flavours are robust and full of cherry and raspberry fruit flavours and youthful vigour, with gently rustic tannins and excellent acidity. It is already good to drink, but will certainly repay a year or two in the cellar, and should eventually show genuine elegance.
 

Price:  £10.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Cébène Ex Arena 2016 IGP Pays d'Oc
Cebene Ex Arena 2016
Vintage
2016
Region Béziers, Pays d'Oc
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full-bodied
Grapes Grenache and Mourvedre - aged in steel vats
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Roasted red meats, game, cheeses.
Next day
Improves for 2 or 3 days
Drink 2018-2026
Grenache grown on Villafranchien soil (a mix of red clay and smooth pebbles), plus a little Mourvedre, grown on a 40-metre-deep bed of sea sediment and alluvial deposits in Corneilhan, just north of Béziers. Yields are very low, with just 20 hl/ha for the Grenache and a miniscule 10 hl/ha for the Mourvedre. Red currant and berry fruits, soft citrus and a hint of white tree fruits combine with all manner of seconday aromas - woodsmoke, leather, molasses, mint, garrigue herbs and burning incense, to name but a few. A more complex and alluring nose is hard to imagine! Medium bodied in texture, it is full of piquant red and black fruit flavours, with fine tannins, hints of herbs and exotic spices, saline minerality and ample juicy acidity. It really is beautifully rounded and elegant, with a long finish that keeps you coming back for more. A very fine wine, which easily bears comparison with Brigitte Chevalier's trio of Faugères cuvées.
 

Price:  £14.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Sibert Armélot 2015 Vin de France
Mas Sibert Armelot 2015
Vintage
2015

Region Fos, in the hills near Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, aged 10 months in vat
Grapes 40% Merlot, 40% Syrah and 20% Petit Verdot
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red and white meat dishes, pizza, risotto, soft cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Aromas of bramble and raspberry, with hints of red cherry, garrigue herbs, spice and a gentle savoury meatiness. The flavours are super-fresh and juicy, packed with red and black fruit flavours and again a gently savoury quality. The tannins are beautifully ripe and there is plenty of mineral/stone/cherry kernel acidity, with a long, gently warming, spicy finish. Another vibrant, juicy, tangy wine, and a worthy successor to the 2014 vintage.
 

Price:  £13.25 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Sibert Fosénot 2014 Vin de France
Mas Sibert Fosenot 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Fos, in the hills near Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, aged 10 months in vat
Grapes 70% Syrah, 10% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Roasted/grilled meats, spicy dishes, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
As with the 2013 vintage, this is a wonderfully aromatic wine, with masses of juicy raspberry and black cherry fruit on the palate, married to intensely juicy cherry kernel/citrus acidity and tea-like tannins, though this time with the savouriness more on the meaty than herby side. Once again a really mouth-watering and beautifully balanced wine. The flavours are rich and ripe and, with time in the glass, developing more in the way of dark, fruit pastille flavours, with a hint of black olive savouriness, leading to a long, tangy finish. Another really lovely wine.
 

Price:  £14.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Sibert Soléno 2013 Vin de France
Mas Sibert Soleno 2013
Vintage
2013

Region Fos, in the hills near Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 10 months in used oak barrels
Grapes 40% Syrah, 30% Merlot, 30% Petit Verdot
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Cassoulet, other rich meat stews, game, mature cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 10 years
The estate's top red wine. Winemaker Simon Bertschinger uses re-toasted oak barrels, which he prefers over brand new barrels, so the oak influence is more subtle. This is quite a deep colour with aromas of cassis and bramble and background notes of pepper and spice. The palate is ripe and fleshy, with tea-like tannins balanced by nice acidity and again a hint of peppery spice. It is undoubtedly youthful, but already showing real elegance, and certainly opens out after a couple of hours in the decanter. And it certainly went very nicely with a dish of Toulouse sausages, fatty pork and sautéed potatoes. Drinking now, but with a lot of development ahead of it.
 

Price:  £17.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Mas Sibert Soléno 2014 Vin de France
Mas Sibert Soleno 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Fos, in the hills near Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 10 months in used oak barrels
Grapes A blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Cassoulet, other rich meat stews, game, mature cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
The estate's top red wine, this year with a somewhat different blend (i.e. no Syrah), again using re-toasted oak barrels, for just a subtle oak influence. Another difference for this vintage is that Simon bottled some of the wine with added SO2 and some without - "sans sulphites". And, having tasted the 2 different bottlings side-by-side, I actually opted for the un-sulphured version, which came across as fresher, slightly lighter, fruitier and more elegant. Once again, it is quite a deep colour with dense aromas of bramble and garrigue herbs, with background notes of pepper and spice and even less oak influence than the 2013. The palate is beautifully ripe and fleshy, with quite soft tannins balanced by nice acidity and again a hint of peppery spice. And whilst the 2013 is certainly softening and getting into its stride, this one is already there - soft, ripe and truly delicious!
 

Price:  £17.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Mas Coutelou 5SO Cinsault Simple 2016 Vin de France
Mas Coutelou 5SO 2016
Vintage
2016

Region Puimisson - midway between Béziers and Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium bodied
Grapes 100% Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
11.5%
Food White meats, cold cuts, crudités, pizza
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 2 to 3 years
Pure Cinsault (hence "cinq-so") and the fact that it is essentially a natural wine - so zero added sulphur means no more than 5 g/l of (naturally occurring) S02. This may offend the more vociferous/dogmatic opponents of natural wines, for it is in some ways reminiscent of freshly-fermented grape juice, with a perceptible spritz on the palate to begin with, though it quickly settles, with air. But that gentle spritz is a definite plus, for it only serves to enhance what is a wonderfully vigourous and youthful red wine, so full of life. The nose is a riot of prickly, red berry, tree fruit, herb and forest floor aromas, all of which carry through on the palate, which is wonderfully light, airy, expressive and full of raspberry and redcurrant fruit. What little tannin has been extracted is meltingly ripe and soft, but it has more than enough bright, juicy, tangy cherry skin and soft citrus acidity to ensure plenty of grip and focus. It really is a delight - and dangerously easy to drink! And at just 11.5% abv, there's no harm done. What a lovely wine .
 

Price:  £11.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Mas Coutelou 7 Rue de La Pompe 2016 Vin de France
Vintage
2016

Region Puimisson - midway between Béziers and Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-full bodied
Grapes 40% Syrah, 40% Merlot, 20% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red and white meats, pasta, pizza
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 2 to 3 years
There is often a little CO2 pétillance with Jeff Coutelou's wines, and (at the time of tasting - October 2017) this one requires a mighty shake in the decanter, before it settles down. It is still a delight to drink, though, and is even better if you can resist drinking it all in one session. Indeed, after 24 hours, it settles into its stride, in a big way, offering plenty of dark, almost bitter-sweet fruit aromas and flavours - and still plenty of gently rustic/tannic grip - but what emerges is something softer and more approachable. There's an immense core of ripe, lush, juicy, black cherry, redcurrant and bramble fruit, with hints of spiced oranges, garrigue herbs, black pepper and wonderfully tangy cherry-kernel acidity - not to mention lots of cedary, earthy nuances lurking in the background. Ultimately, this is a wine which (literally) froths with life - you just need to get past the froth, before the genuine article emerges(!) Super stuff!
 

Price:  £11.75 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Coutelou Flower Power 2015 Vin de France
Mas Coutelou Flower Power 2015
Vintage
2015

Region Puimisson - midway between Béziers and Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-full bodied
Grapes A blend of varieties - see below
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food White meats, cold cuts, pizza, pasta
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 2 to 3 years
A single vineyard field blend of numerous grape varieties (10 in all), grafted onto existing rootstock in 2012. The varieties include Cinsault, Aramon Noir, Aramon Gris, Oeillade Noire, Muscaté, Clairette(s) Blanche, Grise and Musquée and at least one other (completely unknown) variety. Some might cry foul at the first hint of apple and citrus aromas and flavours in what is essentially a red wine, but remember that it is actually a blend of red, gris and white grapes, so such aromatic quirkiness and complexity is to be expected. And the sheer weight of luscious, ripe, vivacious red and black berry and cherry fruits will surely win anyone over. It smells like summer in a basket, and tastes like it too, with a sprinkling of herbs and spices, fine, ripe tannins and simply bucket-loads of tangy, orange and cherry-tinged acidity. This really is an almost impossibly delicious young wine, which is *perfect* to drink now, though there's no great rush.
 

Price:  £17.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Mas Coutelou Flambadou 2016 Vin de France
Vintage
2016

Region Puimisson - midway between Béziers and Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-full bodied
Grapes 100% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red and white meats, game, risotto
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
This Carignan, with its deep, dark, virtually opaque blood/purple colour would ordinarily suggest a young, tannic brute of a wine. But not a bit of it - for this may be the fruitiest, juiciest, most approachable example or its kind I have ever tasted. Aromas of bramble, blackcurrant and desiccated orange peel leap from the glass, with subtle notes of garrigue herbs, leather and polished old wood. And whilst there is a healthy dose of rich, ripe, mouth-coating tannin, the fruit is so dense and luscious on the palate that you hardly notice. And with oodles of mouth-watering, orange and red cherry-tinged acidity to hold it all together, and a long, sweet-sour, tangy finish, it really does feel like the complete package. Jeff Coutelou's wines can certainly age nicely for several years, and there is no reason to suggest that this will be any different, for it definitely has the structure. But then again, why wait, when it is this good?! And for anyone who wonders why I am always banging-on about proper, old vine Languedoc Carignan, this is it. It's the real deal. Trust me!
 

Price:  £17.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Coutelou Mourvedre 2016 Vin de France
Mas Coutelou Mourvedre 2016
Vintage
2016

Region Puimisson - midway between Béziers and Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-full bodied
Grapes 100% Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food All manner of red and white meats, risotto, hard cheeses
Next day
As good
Drink 2018-2023
Semi-opaque, deep purple colour, with a narrow rim. The nose displays myriad fresh and dried red and black fruit aromas, with notes of leather, curry spices and roasted red meat, with a generous sng of garrigue herbs. It really is immensely complex and perfumed - there's even a hint of florality too. Lively on entry, with a faint CO2 prickle, which disperses quickly to reveal an immense core of juicy, sweet autumn black and red fruits and even a hint of white tree fruit (apricot, perhaps?) with refreshing cherry-skin acidity, countering the ripe, tea-like tannins. It really is a wonderfully voluptuous, sweet-sour wine, with more charm and elegance than you can shake a stick at. An utterly brilliant wine, which is perfect to drink now, or to age and evolve for a few years.
 

Price:  £19.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Mas Coutelou L'Oublié NV (2016 Edition) Vin de France
Mas Coutelou l'Oublié NV
Vintage
NV - a blend of several vintages from 2001 to 2015

Region Puimisson - midway between Béziers and Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged several years in old demi-muids
Grapes Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red meats, duck, casseroles, risotto
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
A quirky "solera" blend of Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault from the 2001, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages. On opening, it smells so fresh and full of fruit, yet a day or even 2 days in the decanter renders it even fresher, more perfumed and more alluring. Complex notes of old leather, curry spices, forest floor and fine eau de vie are married to fresh bramble and cherry aromas and flavours, and perhaps a touch of licorice. The tannins are nicely chewy and robust and the acidity is - surprise, surprise - mouth-watering and tangy. The overall effect is a full-bodied, concentrated, yet really elegant wine, which will age nicely for a good few years, although again, there is no need whatsoever to wait. A brilliantly quirky and really delicious wine.
 

Price:  £21.79 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Foulaquier Violetta 2015 IGP Saint Guilhem-le-Désert
Mas Foulaquier Violetta 2015
Vintage
2015

Region Pic Saint-Loup, north-east of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied, aged in vat.
Grapes Mainly Grenache, with a little Syrah, Carignan and Merlot 
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red and white meats seasoned with herbs, pasta dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Merlot, grown on north-facing slopes in the north-east corner of Pic Saint-Loup. The nose exhibits notes of spiced red and black fruits, enveloped within a complex array of garam masala, woodsmoke, leather, damp earth and incense aromas - like opening an old wardrobe! The altitude and orientation of the vineyards means a longer ripening period, and although there is plenty of fruit concentration, it feels relatively light-bodied and elegant, and more towards the red fruit end of the spectrum. The palate offers an abundance of sour cherry and redcurrant flavours, plenty of tannic grip, a twist of pepper and a sprinkling of garrigue herbs, with bags of acidity and an impressively long finish. In a sort of Beaujolais-meets-Piedmont style, this really is a juicy, fruity, cool-climate Languedoc delight! Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £15.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Mas Foulaquier Les Tonillières 2015 IGP Saint Guilhem-le-Désert
Mas Foulaquier Les Tonillieres 2015
Vintage
2015

Region Pic Saint-Loup, north-east of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied, aged in vat.
Grapes 60 year-old Carignan and Grenache, plus a little Syrah 
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Red and white meats seasoned with herbs, pasta dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
Semi-transluscent carmine red, fading to a narrow rim. The grapes are given a full 3 month maceration at a cool temperature, which ensures good extract whilst retaining a good deal of elegance. This is followed by another 15 months or so ageing in large wooden vats before bottling, with only a minimal dose of SO2. At the time of tasting (August 2017) it ideally needs a few months to settle and fully integrate, but it is already showing wonderful aromas of pickled brambles and raspberries, with an amazing array of secondary nuances - notably, leather, cigar box, beetroot, damp earth and fine eau de vie. The palate is delightfully fresh and full of vitality, chock full of sweet and sour raspberry and black fruit flavours, with subtle spicy and meaty notes and a long, minty, sweet-sour finish. With air, it becomes even deeper, more expressive, more elegant, whilst retaining all of its freshness and complexity. This really is a lovely wine, which any lover of fine Languedoc wine should try. It will age nicely, but why wait, when it is so wonderful now? Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £17.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine Combe Blanche Misunderstood Cinsault 2015 IGP Pays de l'Hérault
Domaine Combe Blanche Misunderstood 2015
Vintage
2015

Region Minervois
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-full bodied.
Grapes 100% Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Barbecued meats, rich stews and casseroles, pizza
Next day
As good
Drink Perfect now, or over the next 2 to 3 years
Aromas of garrigue herb-infused red cherries, damsons and raspberries simply leap from the glass, with a touch of polished leather, spice and eau de vie. Succulent red and dark fruit flavours abound, in a wine that is rich in flavour, but surprisingly balanced and fleet of foot, with a seamless mix of warm spice, silky tannins and ample acidity, with a generous, long, tangy/spicy finish. A real treat for a mid-winter's evening. Although it is a delight to drink now, I have no doubt that it will keep nicely for a good year or three. Bargain!
 

Price:  £9.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine Combe Blanche Calamiac Terroir Tempranillo 2015 IGP Pays de l'Hérault
Domaine Combe Blanche Tempranillo 2015
Vintage
2015
Region Minervois
Colour/Style Dry red - full-bodied.
Grapes 100% Tempranillo
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Grilled peppered steak or lamb, duck, game, pasta
Next day
As good
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Tempranillo is a genuine rarity in Languedoc, though I'm not sure why, for it makes lovely wines. This one is medium-deep red in colour with aromas of raspberry and loganberry, polished wood and damp earth - lovely and fresh, with a hint of citrus and very subtle savoury notes. The palate shows plenty of tannic grip, but plenty of fruit and acidity to match, with lashings of strawberry/raspberry compote flavours and a hint of creamy vanilla. There is no oak influence whatsoever, because it doesn't need dressing up, for this is a wine packed full of juicy, pepper and spice-laden fruit. As with the same grower's Pinot, this isn't trying to be anything else (and certainly not Rioja), for whilst it shows lots of Tempranillo character, it is proudly Languedocien in origin. Full-bodied, rounded and lovely - and ready to drink now.
 

Price:  £10.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Combe Blanche l'Enfer Pinot Noir 2012 IGP Côtes du Brian
La Combe Blanche l'Enfer Pinot Noir 2012
Vintage
2012
Region Côtes du Brian, in the Minervois
Colour/Style Dry red - full-bodied. Aged in old oak barrels for 18 months
Grapes 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol (a.b.v)
15.0%
Food Rich game dishes, lamb, fillet of beef
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 10 to 15 years
This deep, dark purple coloured wine certainly smells and tastes like Pinot Noir, but don't expect a light, airy Burgundy look-alike! The aromas, flavours and texture of this wine are very definitely rooted in the warm south, with rich, ripe red and black fruits and a hint of classy oak, perhaps even similar in style to a Californian Pinot. The flavours are similarly rich and ripe, but far from heavy, with velvety tannins, a touch of red cherry sourness and a decent lick of acidity making for something really quite balanced and more-ish. It is approachable now and whilst certainly no shrinking violet, I have enough experience of Guy Vanlancker's Pinots (going back to the mid-1990's) to know that this could turn into something rather special and ethereal in 10 to 15 years. Either way, a lovely wine!
 

Price:  £14.30 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Combe Blanche Les Dessous de l'Enfer Tempranillo 2010 IGP Côtes du Brian
Domaine La Combe Blanche Les Dessous de l'Enfer 2010
Vintage
2010

Region La Liviniere, north-east of Carcassonne
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, aged 18 months in old oak 
Grapes 100% Tempranillo
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Duck, game, char-grilled red meats, wild mushrooms
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 10 years
Guy Vanlancker planted his Tempranillo in the early 1990's, high up in the hills above La Livinière, where the winters can be fiercely cold and the summers fiercely hot, hence the name Les Dessous de l'Enfer - roughly translated as "under hell"(!) The last time he made this cuvée was way back in 2001 (and a bottle we tasted recently was still yet to reach its peak). For this vintage, he used mostly old barrels. After 18 months, the wine was transferred to vats for a further year, before being bottled in the Spring of 2013. It is vibrant and full of life, with an expressive nose, redolent of black cherry, raspberry and bramble, with subtle hints of oak vanillin, mocha and dark chocolate. After a while, it develops further notes of roasted red capsicum and turkish delight. All of which adds up to a pretty complex and alluring wine. The palate is full-bodied, with a richly tannic structure and a gentle oakiness, but at the same time immensely fruity, with real mineral depth, subtle hints of spices and garrigue herbs. All of which, combined with ample acidity, makes for a wonderfully sweet and sour and considerably complex wine. It is already excellent to drink (especially after 24 hours in the decanter) but will no doubt age gracefully for a further 10 years or more.
 

Price:  £15.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Combe Blanche Les Dessous de l'Enfer Tempranillo 2014 IGP Côtes du Brian
Domaine Combe Blanche Dessous de l'Enfer 2014
Vintage
2014

Region La Liviniere, north-east of Carcassonne
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, aged 18 months in old oak 
Grapes 100% Tempranillo
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Duck, game, char-grilled red meats, wild mushrooms
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 10 years
Tempranillo has always been (indeed, still is) rather rare in Languedoc, which is surprising, as it can make lovely wines there. Guy Vanlancker planted his in the early 1990's, high up in the hills above La Livinière, where the winters can be fiercely cold and the summers fiercely hot, hence the name Les Dessous de l'Enfer - roughly translated as "under hell"(!) This wine is made only in certain vintages (in other years, a "standard" Tempranillo is made) and this is the first since 2010. It has an expressive nose of black cherry, raspberry and bramble, with subtle hints of oak vanillin, mocha and dark chocolate, with subtle notes of charred red capsicum, damp earth, tobacco and spice. All of which adds up to a pretty complex and alluring wine. The palate is full-bodied, quite rich and powerful and crammed full of tangy black cherry and bramble fruit flavours, a firm tannic structure and the merest hint of oak, with hints of spice and garrigue herbs, with ample acidity, making for a delightfully sweet-sour and considerably complex wine. It is good to drink now (preferably with food) but will also age and evolve for a further 10 years or more.
 

Price:  £15.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Ravanès Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 IGP Coteaux de Murviel
Domaine de Ravanes Merlot Cabernet 2012
Vintage
2012
Region Thézan-les-Béziers, 10km north of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied. Aged 18 months in vat (no oak)
Grapes 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food All manner of meat, cheese or vegetable dishes, pizza
Next day
Even better on day 2
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
Semi-opaque purple/red in colour, this is deep, dark and inviting, with heady aromas of cassis and bramble fruit, tobacco, citrus and spice, with little hints of meat and new leather. The palate is bright and intensely fruity, lightly spicy and herby, with bags of red and black berry fruit flavours, leather and spice. The texture is medium-rich and mouth-filling, with ample acidity and beautifully grippy tannins, making for a wine that is lovely to drink now, but with the structure to age and improve for another 5 years or more. This is a brilliant example of a Languedoc "Bordeaux blend" and frankly it knocks spots off just about any right-bank Claret under £15.
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Price:  £9.85 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Ravanès Alicante Bouschet 2014 IGP Coteaux de Murviel
Domaine de Ravanes Alicante Bouschet 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Thézan-les-Béziers, 10km north of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied. Aged in vat (no oak)
Grapes 100% Alicante Bouschet
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food All manner of meat, cheese or vegetable dishes, pizza
Next day
Even better on day 2
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Winemaker Marc Benin experimented with making a red table wine from Alicante Bouschet for 3 years before hitting on the perfect recipe. It is macerated on the skins for just 4 days, before running the juice off, in order to tame the inherently fierce tannins and retain the fruit. The result is a relatively light-coloured red wine, full of red and black fruit flavours, a lick of spice and a sprinkling of garrigue herbs, with good concentration, just the right amount of tannin and ample acidity. All in all, a cracking good wine!
 

Price:  £10.85 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Ravanès Petit Verdot 2013 IGP Coteaux de Murviel
Domaine de Ravanes Petit Verdot 2013
Vintage
2013

Region Thézan-les-Béziers, 10km north of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 16 months in vat (no oak)
Grapes 100% Petit Verdot
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Red meats, cheese, vegetable or mushroom dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
Aged for 18 months in vat, so no oak to get in the way of all the lush, ripe bramble and blackcurrant fruit. One might expect this wine to be quite tough and angular for the moment, but not a bit of it - for it really is lovely to drink already. A mélange of black fruits, leather, spice, herb and eau de vie aromas greet the nose, whilst the palate is ripe and full-bodied, with bags of acidity and a healthy dose of tea-like tannins. I make no secret of my relative antipathy towards Bordeaux wines, but when its blends or (in this case) constituent grape varieties are grown in the Languedoc, by a top grower such as Marc Bénin, they can fill me with joy. And this is just such a wine - utterly delicious and more-ish.
 

Price:  £11.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Ravanès Cuvée Diogène 2008 Vin de Pays de Coteaux de Murviel
Domaine de Ravanes Cuvee Diogene 2008
Vintage
2008

Region Thézan-les-Béziers, 10km north of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 18 months in oak barrels
Grapes 60% Petit Verdot, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Beef, lamb, rich casseroles, hard cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 7 to 10 years
Now we are really entering into Languedoc territory of ripe, almost opulent fruit, aided by 18 months' ageing in 1, 2 and 3 year-old oak barrels. Aromas of cassis and bramble, black cherry and cedar, with an intriguing note of violet. Beautifully fresh in the mouth, with bright, intense fruit flavours, just the merest hint of savouriness, ripe, almost velvety tannins and bags of fresh acidity. It is so wonderfully balanced that it is eminently drinkable now, but also has enough stuffing and structure to age for at least another 10 years. A fabulous combination of ripe fruit, florality and restrained power - a really elegant wine.
 

Price:  £13.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Ravanès Les Gravières du Taurou 2010 Vin de Pays de Coteaux de Murviel
Vintage
2010

Region Thézan-les-Béziers, 10km north of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 4 years in oak barrels
Grapes 38% Merlot, 32% Petit Verdot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Beef, lamb, game, duck, wild mushroom risotto
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 10 to 15 years
The estate's top red, from 35 year-old vines, it shows a youthful dark purple/carmine with a tiny rim. It positively reeks of brambles, cassis, black cherry, polished leather, cedar and damp earth, with subtle hints of violets and iodine. If it sounds like an A to Z of all of the best wine descriptors, that's because it is - indeed, a really quite remarkably complex and intoxicating nose. As a Bordeaux blend, it smells like a top classed growth from a great year, but with a little bit of Languedoc spice and garrigue herb thrown in for good measure - and no greenness! On the palate, the fruit is beautifully ripe and rounded, almost sweet and luscious, but with plenty of tannic grip and fabulous acidity. And even after 4 years in barrel, you hardly notice the oak, which is (in my book) the sign of a masterful winemaker, at the top of his game. Even at just 5 years of age, this has a warmth and a generosity that makes it hard to resist drinking now, whilst clearly also having the structure to age for another 10 years at least - and perhaps 20 or more. An utterly wonderful wine!
 

Price:  £21.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de La Garance A Clara Rouge 2017 Vin de France
La Garance A Clara Rouge 2017
Vintage
2017
Region Caux, a few km from Pézenas and Bédarieux
Colour/Style Dry red - medium bodied
Grapes 50% Grenache and 50% Pinot Noir
Alcohol (a.b.v)
12.5%
Food White meats, risotto, pizza, cheeses.
Next day
Even better on day 2
Drink 2018-2021
A blend of Pinot Noir (grown 600m above sea level, in the hills above Bédarieux) and Grenache Noir (grown on the Garance estate in Caux). The aromas simply leap out of the glass - damp earth and wet stone, red and black cherry, raspberry, dried orange, new leather, fine eau de vie, a dash of white pepper and herbs of the garrigue - they're all in there, and so much more. It may not be designed to be complex, but it really does tick most (if not all) of my boxes. The promise of the nose is more than matched by the earthy, ripe, sweet-edged red and black fruit flavours on the palate, laced with garrigue herbs and just a hint of peppery spice, countered by melting tannins and crunchy, cherry kernel and soft-citrus acidity. All of which makes for a deliciously sweet-sour wine of real finesse, with a cool, minty finish. And by the way, no fungicides, pesticides or SO2 were used in the growing/making of this wine (not to mention, no oak). A realy delicious wine, which would bear comparison with many a decent cru Beaujolais.
 

Price:  £13.75 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de La Garance Les Armieres 2004 Vin de Pays de l'Hérault
Domaine de La Garance Les Armieres 2004
Vintage
2004
Region Caux, a few km north-west of Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, partly aged in barrel
Grapes 90% Carignan and 10% Syrah (65 year old vines)
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Roasted red meats, game, cheeses.
Next day
Still fresh, though at its best on day one
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 10 years
Old vine Carignan and Syrah, with yields of just 18 hectolitres per hectare. A long maceration (3 months) is followed by 27 months ageing (90% in concrete vats and 10% in oak barrels). What strikes me is how wonderfully "Languedoc" this smells and tastes. Of course, the fact that it is mostly (very old) Carignan helps. The colour is a deep-ish blood red, leading to a slightly bricking rim. The nose offers a complex array of red and black berry and cherry fruits, dried orange peel and polished old leather, with background notes of cedar, curry spices, garrigue herbs and tea. All of which suggest that the 2 years' oak-ageing was done with a sympathetic hand, for a more harmonious and intoxicating bouquet is hard to imagine. Although this is no shrinking violet, there is plenty of charm to the palate, with bags of spiced black cherry, redcurrant and bramble fruit flavours. The tannins are dense and grippy, with notes of dark chocolate and licorice, which - together with the ample fruit and racy acidity - will ensure it ages and evolves further for another 5 to 10 years. A fabulously old-school Languedoc wine, which is yet to reach its peak.
 

Price:  £23.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de La Garance Les Armieres 2007 Vin de Pays de l'Hérault
Domaine de La Garance Les Armieres 2007
Vintage
2007
Region Caux, a few km north-west of Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, partly aged in barrel
Grapes 90% Carignan and 10% Syrah (65 year old vines)
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Roasted red meats, game, cheeses.
Next day
Still fresh, though at its best on day one
Drink Now, or over the next 10+ years
Old vine Carignan and Syrah, with yields of just 18 hectolitres per hectare. A long maceration (3 months) is followed by 27 months ageing (90% in concrete vats and 10% in oak barrels). This is almost on a par with the amazing 2006 - perhaps even its equal. Once again, mostly Carignan, with a little Syrah, deep blood red in colour, almost opaque, with a tiny rim. As with the 2006, the nose is a riot of red and black fruits, smoke, white pepper, exotic spices, leather and herbs, with hints of sandalwood and forest floor. The palate has all of those things going for it, and more - concentrated but not overly rich, a complex array of red and black fruits, with healthy tannins and a core of juicy, citrus and cranberry-tinged acidity. The finish is satisfyingly dry and tangy, with lingering flavours of forest fruits, cedar and peppery spice. Although it may be a few years short of its absolute peak, it is nevertheless rather delicious already. Another wonderful, world-class Carignan.
 

Price:  £23.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Monplezy Canon Huppé 2014 IGP Cotes de Thongue
Domaine Monplezy Canon Huppé 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Cotes de Thongue, Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red, medium bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 100% Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Grilled pork chops, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza
Next day
Almost as good
Drink Over the next 3 years
A bright, limpid cherry red colour, with aromas and flavours which are equally bright, with fresh red currant and berry fruits, candied orange peel and a gentle earthiness, with soft tannins, stony minerality and juicy acidity. Cinsault is - unfairly in my opinion - generally consigned to being a constituent of blended rosé wines in the Languedoc, but this is a brilliant example of what can be done with it when left to take on some skin colour, tannin and more of that lovely red fruit. The result is a completely delicious and more-ish wine.
 

Price:  £9.85 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine de Foltodon Sancti Cosmae 2014 IGP Pays d'Oc
Domaine de Foltodon Sancti Cosmae 2014
Vintage
2014

Region Saint-Come de Marujols, Vin de Pays d'Oc
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied
Grapes 90% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Roasted red meats, hearty stews, cheeses.
Next day
Still very good, perhaps even more so
Drink Now or over the next 5 years
A bright but deep, semi-translucent carmine/cherry red colour. The 10% Mourvedre in the blend really does make all the difference, adding a subtle meaty-herby savouriness to the fresh, ripe, red cherry, blackcurrant and raspberry aromas and flavours of the Syrah. On the palate, it is beautifully poised - crammed full of gloriously fresh, juicy, garrigue herb-tinged red and black fruit flavours, ripe tannins and a refreshing lick of cherry kernel acidity, with a welcome bite of peppery spice and cool mint on the finish. From vineyards wedged between the southern Rhône and eastern Languedoc (south-west of Nimes), it certainly sings of the latter rather than the former, with a coolness and genuine elegance that one rarely, if ever, finds in the Rhône. Aged in vat, with no oak influence at all, it really is a delightful wine. Organic.
 

Price:  £11.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine de La Marfée Les Vignes Qu'On Abat 2013 IGP Pays de l'Hérault
Domaine de La Marfee Les Vignes qu'on Abat 2013
Vintage
2013

Region Saint Georges d'Orques, west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged for 2 years in oak barels
Grapes 100% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Beef, lamb, duck, perhaps even a spicy tagine
Next day
Still going strong
Drink Now, or over the next 8 to 10 years
A deep-ish but clear, bright, cherry-blood red, with classic Carignan (and especially Marfée terroir) aromas of blackcurrant leaf, bramble, orange and red cherry, along with hints of polished leather, curry spices and forest floor. As the colour suggests, this is made by the delicate hand of a brilliant winemaker - medium-bodied at most, gently-extracted and full of finesse, allowing all of those wonderfully subtle fruit and herb/spice aromas and flavours to express themselves, with little savoury/meaty notes - on the nose more than the palate - adding yet more complexity. Gently grippy, lapsang tea-like tannins and simply wonderful, mouth-watering acidity complete the package, with a long, lingering, tangy-fruity-herby finish. This is a Languedoc Carignan of the very highest order - and one that lovers of fine Burgundy (as opposed to Bordeaux) would do well to taste. It really is elegance personified, and an utterly lovely wine. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £28.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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L'Argentier Vieilles Vignes de Cinsault 2011 IGP Pays d'Hérault
l'Argentier Cinsault 2011
Vintage
2011

Region Sommières, in western Languedoc
Colour/Style Dry red, medium bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 100% Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Grilled meats, roasted vegetables, cold cuts
Next day
Still good, but not quite as fresh as on day 1
Drink Over the next 3 to 5 years
This is pure Cinsault from a vineyard planted in 1969 (so 45 years old). As can be expected with Cinsault, it is the lightest of this grower's reds - both in colour and body - but nevertheless delicious. It offers aromas of red berry fruits laced with spices and herbs, with subtle hints of sous bois and freshly baked brioche. It is beautifully soft and approachable, full of raspberry and redcurrant fruits, with soft tannins and a gently creamy texture and flavour. In fact it is really rather light and ethereal, in an almost Burgundian sort of way, but with a softer feel. There's plenty of acidity though, and just the right amount of tannic grip. Cinsault is (along with Carignan) traditionally one of the "black sheep" grapes of the Languedoc family, but I have enough evidence to suggest that, from old vines and a sympathetic hand in the winery, it can make fabulous wine - and this is one of them. Lovely stuff!
 

Price:  £12.79 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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É & F Jourdan Cinsault Vieilles Vignes 2016 Vin de France
Argentier Cinsault 2016
Vintage
2016

Region Sommières, in eastern Languedoc
Colour/Style Dry red, medium bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 100% Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Grilled meats, roasted vegetables, cold cuts
Next day
Still good
Drink Over the next 3 to 5 years
This is pure Cinsault from a vineyard planted in 1969 (so 45 years old). As can be expected with Cinsault, it is the lightest of this grower's red wines - both in colour and body - but nevertheless delicious. Bright, limpid cherry red in colour, it offers aromas of red cherry and summer berry fruits, laced with subtle spice, garrigue herb, sous bois and orange notes. Although initially spiky and high-toned, it becomes softer and more approachable with air, full of raspberry and redcurrant fruit flavours. The grippy, gently rustic tannins are countered by a lightly creamy texture, but with bags of acidity and a long-ish sweet-sour finish. As I have said on many occasions, Cinsault is traditionally one of the "black sheep" grapes of the Languedoc family, but this is another very more-ish wine, and a testament to what it is capable of, when made by a sympatheic hand. Another lovely Cinsault!
 

Price:  £12.79 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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L'Argentier Vieilles Vignes de Carignan 2011 IGP Pays d'Hérault
L'Argentier Carignan 2011
Vintage
2011

Region Sommières, in western Languedoc
Colour/Style Dry red, full bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 100% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Roasted red meats, hearty stews, herby sausages
Next day
Even better - opens out nicely after a night in the decanter
Drink Over the next 5 to 8 years
Pure Carignan from a vineyard planted in 1935 (80 years old). A reassuringly bright colour, with rich fruitcake aromas and flavours, a touch of spice and a whiff of eau de vie. An initial slight tarriness on the nose dissipates to reveal a rather elegant wine, with a silky-smooth palate, soft, ripe tannins and a spicy warmth. It really begins to show its true colours after 24 hours in the decanter - still with a gentle warmth, beautifully balanced, gently spicy and with a tremendous core of crystallised red fruit flavours, flowers, herbs and soft spices, tea-like tannins and a rasp of juicy, orange infused acidity. This is a wine that (with the benefit of a day's air) could hardly fail to appeal to the most jaded palate. A truly delicious and elegant expression of my very favourite grape variety. An absolute cracker!
 

Price:  £14.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Maruejols Rosemary 2011 Vin de France
Rosemary 2011
Vintage
2011

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 18 months in old oak barrels
Grapes 70% Merlot and 30% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Game, red meats, cassoulet, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Now or over the next 10-plus years
"I ain't drinking' no f**kin' Merlot!", is one of the best-known lines from the film Sideways. Well, this is (predominantly) Merlot, and damn fine it is too! Actually, it is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Grenache, from two tiny plots of 60 year-old vines grown in the rolling hills around the village of St-Comes et Maruéjols, midway between Nimes and Montpellier. The viticulture is largely biodynamic and the wine is fermented in concrete vats and then aged for 18 months in 3 year-old demi-muids (500 litre oak barrels), with no sulphites used during the winemaking or bottling stages. The colour is a deep, youthful blood red, with a narrow rim. The nose offers quite the most intoxicating combination of black fruits, incense, leather, fine eau de vie, mint and garrigue herbs, all of which come through on the palate, with a perfect balance between ripe (but not over-ripe) fruit, a touch of savouriness, gently rustic tannins and mouth-watering cherry-skin acidity. All of which adds up to a wonderfully tangy, grippy, sweet-sour wine, which just keeps you coming back for more. It isn't Burgundy or Beaujolais (even for the latter, it has far too much body) but it *does* possess the balance, vivacity and fleetness of foot that would appeal to lovers of that type of wine. And despite the large percentage of Merlot in the blend, don't expect anything remotely Claret-like..... it's much better than that! This really is an utterly delicious wine, from owner/winemaker Mark Ratcliffe (yes - he's a Brit!), in collaboration with Robert Creus of Terre Inconnue - a sure recipe for success! Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £22.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Adèléandre Léandre 2013 Vin de France
Domaine Adeleandre Leandre 2013
Vintage
2013

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 80% Cinsault, 20% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Game, red meats, risotto, soft cheeses
Next day
Even better
Drink Now (after a long decant) or over the next 10 or so years
A bright, semi-translucent cherry/blood red. The nose offers a fabulously complex array of fresh and crystallised red and black fruit aromas, with notes of blackcurrant leaf, leather, garrigue herbs and hints of autumn forest floor and vanilla ice cream. On day 1, the palate has a slightly prickly feel (courtesy, I presume, of a dash of CO2 at the bottling stage) which diminishes following a good shake and a little time in the glass. It is both refreshing and earthy, with bright cherry and raspberry fruit, married to leafy, earthy, gently herbaceous secondary flavours and cracking acidity. On day 1, the tannins are a little spiky. Not that this is a bar to its sheer drinkability, straight out of the blocks, but it is a wine that currently benefits from plenty of air. Fast-forward 24 hours and those tannins have melded together with the fruit and the acidity, making for a wine with such wonderful poise and balance. The transformation really is quite remarkable - much more than the sum of its parts (Cinsault, especially, is not regarded as a great variety for red wines), it attains a rather "Burgundian" elegance and charm - perhaps with slightly more body and overt fruit, but wonderfully balanced and supremely elegant, fresh and clean - and gloriously drinkable now, but with the capacity to age and evolve for a good few years. This is one of the most delicious red wine to pass my lips so far this year (tasting note written March 2016). Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £17.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Adèléandre Adèle 2011 Vin de France
Domaine Adeleandre Adele 2011
Vintage
2011

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 16 months in old oak barrels
Grapes 100% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Game, red meats, cassoulet, cheese
Next day
Even better, especially on day 3(!)
Drink Now or over the next 10-plus years
From around 1/3 of a hectare of gnarly old Grenache vines, with yields typically between 15 and 18 hl/ha, only around 600 bottles of this wine are made in each vintage. A semi-translucent cherry red colour with a bricking rim. The nose is gently savoury - though more herby than meaty - with black cherry and bramble aromas and a complex array of background aromas, including leather, damp undergrowth, truffle and freshly-baked bread. The palate is beautifully soft, with very fine tannins, a mix of fresh and crystallised fruit flavours, a hint of spiced orange and just the right amount of refreshing acidity - sweet-sour, spicy, grippy, but soft all at the same time. Something I would liken to a Chateauneuf-du-Pape for Burgundy lovers, and a wine with a great future - though it is lovely to drink already. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £22.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue "Sans Nom" 2005 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Sans Nom 2005
Vintage
2005

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 100% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Rack of lamb, rib of beef or rich, hearty stews
Next day
Still good, but best on day 1
Drink Now, or over the next 5 years
This is described by the grower as a "cuvée oxidative". And on first opening, there is perhaps a slightly oxidative quality to it, but it opens-up in double quick time to reveal an impressive array of aromas and nuances - a mix of crystallised and baked red and black fruits, freshly-baked bread, polished leather, meat, sun-dried tomato, incense, curry spices and damp earth. Indeed, over the course of a couple of hours, it grows yet more complex, as does the palate, which is crammed full of  fruit, spices and herbs, rich and warming, with fine, soft tannins and plenty of acidity, making for a powerful but supremely balanced wine. A perfectly mature wine, and a brilliant introduction to the Terre Inconnue style - and because we were able to get some for not much money, so can you! Biodynamic.
Limited stock - maximum 3 bottles per order.

 

Price:  £13.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Les Bruyeres 2013 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Les Bruyeres 2013
Vintage
2013

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 50% Carignan, 50% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Rack of lamb, rib of beef or rich, hearty stews
Next day
Even better
Drink Over the next 10-15 years
Winemaker Robert Creus advised me to taste and assess this wine over 3 to 4 days, and I can sort of see why it will take a good few years to show it's true colours. But I have to say I personally love it just as it is. Granted, the tannins are pretty robust and the acidity is high, but it is absolutely chock full of fresh and pickled bramble and sour cherry fruit, damp earth aromas and flavours that it is hard to resist! Add to that some subtle hints of polished wood and spicy, herby notes, plus of course that utterly wonderful streak of volatile acidity that I love in Robert's wines, and it really is a wonderfully fresh, vibrant, expressive wine. After time in the glass, it also begins to develop some nice floral/violet aromas, which lend a touch of real elegance to the fruit, which is increasingly turns more red (rather than black) by the sip. But just to reiterate, this is not a wine for the faint-hearted (yet). It will take some time (perhaps 2020 or beyond) for that acidity to fully integrate, and probably beyond 2023 for the wine to begin to reach its peak. One of the great myths about red wine is that it requires plenty of tannin to age well - it helps, of course, but equally important for ageing (if not more so) is acidity. We enjoyed a few bottles of the 1999 Les Bruyeres a few years back, which I am reliably informed by the winemaker was very similar to the 2013 in its youth. And they were massively complex and utterly compelling. And  if you have the required patience to age it for long enough, I promise you will be similarly rewarded. For the money, this is an absolute bargain, whether you (dare) drink it now, or cellar it for 10 to 15 years. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £14.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Guilhem 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Guilhem 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes A blend of Grenache, Merlot, Carignan and Tempranillo
Alcohol (a.b.v)
15.0%
Food Roasted or grilled red meats, wild mushroom risotto
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 10+ years
An eclectic blend of old-vine Grenache, Merlot, Carignan and Tempranillo, and a big, brooding wine, with tremendous depth and complexity. The nose offers notes of black fruits steeped in eau de vie, leather, tapenade, roasted meat and coffee, not to mention huge wafts of garrigue herbs and burning incense. The palate offers all of this and more, with a combination of fresh and baked fruits and tertiary elements, backed up by robust tannins and a layer of fabulously juicy acidity that builds towards a long finish. Granted it is still very youthful, with a long (10 year - plus) future ahead of it, but it is already offering much pleasure. Brilliant wine! Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £18.79 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Leonie 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Leonie 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 100% old-vine Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Roasted or grilled red meats, game, mushroom risotto
Next day
Even better, for 2 or 3 days
Drink Over the next 10-15 years
Initially, the nose is rather subtle, but once it has been exposed to air, it reveals myriad aromas of fresh red fruits, spice, incense and forest floor, with subtle hints of pain au raisin and pot-pourri - complex and expressive, with just a gentle whiff of fine old oak. The palate is equally complex, with spiced red and black fruit flavours mingled with licorice, all-spice and bitter chocolate, plenty of tannic grip and a backbone of juicy, soft citrus acidity, all of which carries through to an exceptionally long, dry finish. This is an utterly brilliant, classic, old-school Languedoc Carignan - indeed ,up there with the very best. Of course, it needs food at the moment (but then what great red wine doesn't?) but it has the structure to age and evolve for at least another 10 years, and probably more. You can keep your over-priced, under-ripe, tannic, charmless Clarets and your soupy Chateauneufs - if I want a spicy, herby, rich, sweet-sour red wine, with robust tannins, juicy acidity, ripe, tangy fruit and complexity by the bucket-load, then this is the sort of wine I want! Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £22.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Los Abuelos 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Los Abuelos 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 100% Grenache (100 year-old vines)
Alcohol (a.b.v)
15.0% (I don't believe it!)
Food Game, red meats, seared tuna, tomato-ey pasta dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Over the next 10+ years
Once again, it's Grenache Jim (from 100 year-old vines), but not as we know it! And once again, it is crammed full of plum and raspberry fruit, but with perhaps even more elegance and fleetness of foot than its predecessor. This 2012 offers a gloriously complex and intoxicating mix of red and black fruit aromas, with notes of old, polished leather, exotic spices, damp earth and fine eau de vie.  The reason I question the advertised 15% abv is that there is no suggestion of heat or alcohol (other than the wonderful eau de vie note) on the nose - and even less so on the palate. There's a rush of tangy, white pepper-infused sweet-sour red cherry and bramble fruit, but the feel is light and almost ethereal. Yes, there's a healthy lick of gently rustic, tea-like tannin, but there is also a wonderfully mouth-watering and refreshing core of acidity - something that may shock lovers of the slightly soupy, rich southern Rhône style of Grenache, but should appeal greatly to lovers of Burgundy or (dare I say it) Claret. For now, it demands food, and - as luck would have it - we paired it with a Spaghetti Bolognese, and it was the perfect foil for the rich beef and herb flavours and the tangy tomato. That said, it is extremely verstile and would pair equally well with feathered game, red meats, or even a piece of rare-fried tuna. A delicious - and completely different - expression of Grenache, from one of Languedoc's greatest winemakers. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £31.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Sylvie 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Sylvie 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 50% Syrah and 50% Sérine
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Roasted or grilled red meats, game, hard cheeses
Next day
Still really good
Drink Over the next 10-15 years
Sérine is (depending on where you look or who you read) either a particular clone of Syrah or - more likely - the original Syrah, from which other clones were developed. Either way, it seems that many of the Northern Rhône's greatest red wines are based on the Sérine variety and, having become almost extinct in the second half of the 20th century, it's cuttings are now highly-prized by the best growers. And whilst it may still be a relatively rarity in the Rhône, it is even more so in Languedoc, especially old vines like those of Terre Inconnue. Yields for this wine are miniscule, at an average of just 10 hl/ha, and it shows. The colour is a semi-opaque black cherry clour. The nose, whilst initially quite muted, opens-out quickly, to reveal complex aromas of blueberry and bramble, freshly-baked bread, meat/leather and fine eau de vie. It's wonderfully spicy and herby, too, with notes of allspice, fennel and cardamom. The palate is tightly-knit, with a cloak of firm but fine tannins wrapped around a core of ripe bramble, blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with a touch of pepper and spice and a bite of cherry kernel acidity. The finish is long, spicy and tangy, with a cool mintiness at the very end. Don't expect a Northern Rhône-alike with this wine - it is very much a warm climate Syrah/Sérine, with a medium-rich texture, black fruits rather than red, big tannins and a distinctly herby (rather than mineral) quality. At the time of writing (May 2016) it has only just been bottled, so is very much in its primary phase of evolution - a real "velvet fist in an iron glove", if you see what I mean! But there is no doubting that this is a wine of immense structure, which will soften over the next year or two and evolve slowly towards it peak in around 10 years. One for the connoisseur. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £35.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Minimum order value, delivery charges, times and restrictions
We deliver only to UK and Northern Ireland addresses. The minimum order value is £75 (plus the delivery charge). You may of course choose a mix of any wines in our range. Orders between £75 and £200: delivery charge is £7.50. Orders over £200: delivery is free! (If your order is over £200, please remember to change the delivery charge in checkout to £0.00). Please note: Delivery to non-mainland addresses (Scottish Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, etc.) is usually possible, but may not be on a next-working-day basis. It is also more expensive than delivery to mainland addresses, so will be charged at cost (for orders under £200) but with a small discount for orders over £200 - please call us for a quote.

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It is an offence to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol if you are under the age of 18. (Section 149 Licensing Act 2003).We reserve the right to seek proof of age. Leon Stolarski says "drink less, but drink better!" Please consume alcohol in moderation.