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Sunday, 29 April 2012

How to serve red wine - a local carignan, and also a new local rosé

For my birthday Mary gave me a subscription to La Revue du Vin de France which has turned out to be  a Very Good Thing.  This month, there was a comparative tasting of some top reds (Bordeaux, Bourgogne, northern and southern Rhône and Languedoc vdp carignan) comparing 3 bottles in each case - one opened immediately before drinking, the second decanted 2 hours in advance, and the third opened 2 days beforehand but left in the bottle, not decanted until it arrived in the glass.  In all 5 cases the one opened but left in bottle for 2 days came out top!

Yesterday we welcomed our friends Jacqui and Luc (author of wine guides) and decided to try the 3-bottle comparison.  A few days earlier I had visited the Domaine de Bellevue for the first time - a real pleasure situated just next to the Lunel junction on the A9 and with splendid views over Lunel - you can see right to the coast and the ziggurats of La Grande Motte in fact.  I was with my friend Nigel, and we tried several wines, rosé, muscat (de Lunel)and red, including a 7 year old carignan which Nigel - generally a fan of carignan - found difficult.  So I decided to use this for our lunch with Luc and Jacqui.
Luc was already clear before we began that, since oxygen is the enemy of wine, the bottle opened in advance but not disturbed by decanting ought to be the best.  In fact, all three turned out to be good but the decanted one was the least successful and, at the outset, the bottle opened 2 days beforehand was by far the richest and best balanced.  So I'll certainly tell Nigel that  it's worth persisting with that particular Carignan, but I'll also remember to open good bottle of red a day or two before we drink them.  I devised a protector with a rubber band and a small piece of kitchen paper to avoid adding stray flies to the wine!

We also sampled the new rosé released the previous evening by the Domaine Guinand at St Christol. A couple of eyars ago there was a flurry of controversy when the European Union seemed ready to permit mixing red and white grape varieties to make rosé wine.  This already happens in Champagne but this is the first time I've found it in the south of France (although some white viognieer is famously added to syrah in the northern Rhône to make the red Côte Rôtie).  But this Plaisir du Sud rosé is a fragrant pleasure, scented on the nose with strawberry and exotic fruits following, and we all 4 found it  a really pleasant apéritif.

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