Hello Cleveland!…….It’s time to get the band back together. Inspired by a visit to the fantastic Rootstock 2014 in Sydney and discussions with James Erskine & Banjo Harris-Plane on the need for a new lexicon to discuss the wonderful wines that exist around us; a gentle ribbing from Max Allen in front of a room full of people asking if I ever plan on updating my blog and leaning against a brick wall chatting with James Milton on inspiring a love of wine for the next generation….. of experiments in wine & synesthesia in young children….asking them to to take a sniff of a wine and tell us what colour they see….and of course their answer is right!….. clearly delighted they become immersed in smelling the wine and soon pick out sounds, feelings and lastly aromas. I love the idea of having a freshly stretched canvas for a mind. No layers of paint from previous experiences and their accompanying prejudices and bias obstructing ones view……… taste like a child.
To be honest I’m not sure why I haven’t posted an update for so long….. got wrapped up in other shit I guess…… but this is how I like to write….there’s no rules here; no editors telling me to dumb it down; no plans to monetise my blog despite plenty of emails from potential advertisers; no plans to give wines a score….. I like it that way. It’s not meant to be a critical look at wines. There are plenty of people out there doing that….. willing to burp up a magic number after a glass. I will only write about wines that I have enjoyed, ones that show an aberrant level of deliciousness…… wines that have resonated with me as have the individuals and concepts behind those wines…..the ones that fill me with wonder and keep me reaching back for a glass.
I love the word “Flâneur” …… a stroller or saunterer. If flânerie is the act of strolling, with all its accompanying associations then that is what you can consider this blog. A stroll through the world of wine…not moving too fast, taking as much in as possible, maybe even stopping for a while to scrape some paint off that old canvas …..let’s see how we go.
Jean-François Coutelou…..or “Jeff” as he prefers to be called….plys his vinous trade in the Languedoc village of Puimisson…..about 15kms to the North of Bèziers on the way up to Faugères. Here “Jeff” farms 14 hectares of vines on red clays and limestone – Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Blanc a Petite Grains & Viognier for the white varieties and Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre & Cinsaut for the reds. When organic viticulture become officially accredited in the 1980s, Mas Coutelou was the first in line, the grapes never having been treated with synthetic products since they were planted by Jeff’s father in 1966. Today, biodynamic practises have been added into the viticultural arsenal and today the estate is registered with Nature et Progrès.
Mas Coutelou has made a name for itself as one of France’s top producers of lo-fi wines……that’s low-fucking-intervention…..I’m putting the natural word out to pasture. Very hands off in the cellar with zero or minimal SO2….this particular wine is 100% Syrah, whole bunch ferment, 10 days maceration with pigeage. Respectful, considered winemaking.
Deep purple red in the glass it is a wine that smells achingly pure and tonic. The lovely Nick Mills from Rippon Wines in New Zealand refers to certain wines as being tonic….I like that concept so I’m Nicking it…so to speak. In herbal medicine, tonic refers to something that helps restore, tone and invigorate systems in the body and the aromas here certainly do that. In music the tonic centre was the most important of all the different tone centres which a composer used in a piece of music, with most pieces beginning and ending on the tonic….the final resolution tone….pure Syrah.
There are aromas of wild cherry, blackberry and juicy plum, underscored with hints of Asian spice, licorice, roasting meats, deep, moody spice and sinewy, bracken and undergrowth notes. Further back the aromas are cut with light calvados, crushed rock and purple flower tones filtering through the primary fruit notes like dappled sunlight through a forest canopy. It’s deeply vinous and quite broody on the nose yet in a most alluring way.
The pure, rich fruit flows onto the palate like an incoming tide….deep, resonant black berry, plum and wild cherry fruits enter with weight and plenty of presence before focussing across the mid-palate adding detail along the journey. There are notes of kirsch and macerating berry fruit, five spice, roast meats, veal jus and scattered herbs. Oak seemingly takes a back seat and the wine exits with a earthy, crushed rock and berry flourish with lighter wafts of violets and pepper. There’s tannin there…super fine, gypsum-like tannin providing a modicum of structure with just the right amount of acidity to drive the wine to its delicious conclusion. A wine that shows amazing fruit density while retaining a sense of spaciousness….wonderful drinking.
Price: $45 – Closure: Cork – Alcohol: 13.5% – Source: Dinner Guest – Importer: Andrew Guard Wine Imports