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A & B Vintners Tasting: part 3, the South of France

A & B Vintners are a mail-order/internet merchant who specialize in (and concentrate almost exclusively on) wines from the Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon and Burgundy. The good news for customers is that smaller merchants such as this can cherry pick the smaller production wines that simply aren't made in big enough quantities to satisfy the larger retailers. And A & B (otherwise known as John Arnold and Ken Brook) have done a pretty good job in putting together a focused, well chosen list of wines at reasonable prices. It's worth getting on their mailing list because a lot of the more sought-after wines tend to sell out en primeur and never make the regular list, although the wines shown at this tasting are mostly still available.

I'm dividing my write-up into three parts: first the Burgundies, the Rhône wines and the South of France. It was a well-run tasting, with decent Riedel glasses, plenty of room, and self-pouring (this tends to be rare in consumer tastings, but it makes the whole process a lot quicker and more convenient). 

See also: part 1, Burgundy; part 2, the Rhône

Tempier Bandol Rosé 1999, Provence
I find it hard to get really excited by Rosé, but this is a good one, from Bandol's most famous name. A pale orange/pink colour with attractive, herby strawberry fruit on the nose. Rich, full-flavoured palate with a nice herby, spicy character. Would be stunning in situ, no doubt. Very good (£11.16)

Domaine Perdiguier Cuvée d'en Auger 1999, Vin de Pays des Coteaux d'Ensérune
A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, made by Jérome Ferracci from his vineyards just north of Beziers. Super nose: complex liquorice and spice notes with some southern herbal character and toasty edge. Palate is rich with a spicy edge and good balance. Savoury in style, with good density. Very good/excellent (£9.69)

Domaine de Lavabre Les Desmoiselles de Lavabre 1998, Pic St Loup, AOC Coteaux du Languedoc
Olivier Bridel makes three different cuvées; this is his middle one. This is a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Carignan and 10% Cinsault. It has an attractive juicy nose with meaty, plummy fruit. Elegant, full flavoured meaty/earthy palate with good acidity and balance. Impressive. Very good+ (£8.22)

Mas Champart Saint Chinian 'Tradition' 1998, Languedoc
Deep coloured wine with a slightly muted, spicy, herby nose. Palate is dense with tight structure and a spicy, tannic finish. A dense wine; currently a bit firm but very good value. Very good (£7.25)

Domaine de la Prose Cuvée Prestige 1999, AOC Coteaux du Languedoc
Bertrand de Mortillet is a young vigneron who is fanatical about wine, and grew up in the area (apparently he also has wealthy parents). He's passionate: pruning short he goes for low yields and attains good physiological ripeness. This wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, has a nice nose with a herby cherry fruit and an attractive meatiness. The palate is rich, savoury and quite delicious, with spicy tannins and good acidity on the finish. A really nice wine. Very good/excellent (£7.25)

Château le Thou 1999 AOC Coteaux du Languedoc
Very unusual nose of herbs and caramel with a plasticene-like edge. The rich palate is quite ripe and full. Unusual stuff; I'm not sure about this one, but I can see it's appeal. Good value. Very good (£6.76)

Tempier Bandol Rouge 'Classique' 1999, Provence
Quite a full, heby nose with a lovely Provencale character. Mid-weight expressive palate is quite complex and shows plenty of character and good balance. Fascinating stuff. Very good+ (£13.61)

Domaine D'Auphilac Montpeyroux 1998, AOC Coteaux du Langudeoc
Sylvain Fadat's wines have established a huge reputation from this promising Languedoc commune. Deep coloured, this wine has a rich, slightly herbal edge to the nose. The palate is attractively meaty and spicy. It's currently quite firm, but showing plenty of potential. A very solid wine with the potential to be serious in a few years' time. Very good+ (£10.70)

Contact details:
A&B Vintners
John Arnold/Ken Brook
Little Tawsden
Spout Lane
Kent TN12 7AS
Tel: 01892 724977  Fax: 01892 722673
E-mail: info@abvintners.co.uk

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