wa3.gif (3780 bytes)

Wine Anorak index page

Tasting notes index page

Uncategorized tasting notes

Tasting notes arranged geographically

Tasting notes from organized tastings and offlines

Tasting: the wines of Domaine du Baruel, Vin de Pays de Cevennes

La Vigneronne, Thursday 25th May, with owner Rainer Pfefferkorn

A great chance to taste a remarkable line up of wines from this superb 12 Ha domaine in the picturesque Cevennes in the South of France. The wines were eventually presented by the owner, Rainer Pfefferkorn, who arrived rather late and then left a few minutes later! [Aside: he drives a vintage Bentley, and is an aviation enthusiast -- apparently, there is a landing strip between the vines at the Domaine.] His first vintage was in 1989, and his last release is the 1998, because he has now sold the property as it was proving too difficult to maintain. However, Rainer is not giving up altogether: he has purchased a new property and plans to plant 2 Ha of Syrah and 1 Ha of Rousanne to begin with.

The Baruel domaine is planted with Cabernet and Syrah; the average vine age is 20 years, and yields are very low at 20 hl/Ha. Because the wines are non-AOC, Rainer has been more or less free to do his own thing. He has produced two cuvées, the regular one (a blend of Syrah and Cabernet) and the cuvée Fontanilles, a varietal Syrah. With the exception of the first vintage, 1989, Rainer has shunned the use of new oak, instead fermenting and maturing the wines in 3000 litre barrels. Annual production is in the region of 2000 cases. All the wines have great concentration and intensity, with a characteristic earthy, dusty structure and firm dry tannins. Having said this, there is pronounced vintage variation. These wines also seem to last forever: all of these wines, with the possible exception of the 1997, are still youthful and tannic and show no signs of imminent decline. Overall, I was most impressed with the 1996 vintage, and the Fontanilles seemed to have the edge on the regular cuvée. All of these wines represent great value for money (all priced between £9 and £12).

1997 Domaine du Baruel Cuvée Fontanilles
Lovely herby, open nose: full, earthy and smoky, with a touch of bacon fat. Dusty, dense tannic fruit on palate. Chunky. Drinking well now, but still has some distance to go. Very good.

1997 Domaine du Baruel
Less evolved, with some blackcurrant notes on the nose. Smokiness and herbiness predominate, with firm tannins and dusty fruit. A very structured wine that is less approachable than the 1997 Fontanilles. Very good, but needs time.

1996 Domaine du Baruel Cuvée Fontanilles
Lovely nose of smoky, spicy Syrah fruit. Quite delicious. Noticeable riper and fuller on the palate than the 1997: there is pronounced vintage variation here. Delicious but firm on the palate: huge wine but with lovely balance. Excellent.

1996 Domaine du Baruel
Slightly more restrained nose. A tannic, dense wine with typical southern character. Tannic and spicy, this one needs time. Quite high acidity. Very good +

1995 Domaine du Baruel
Lovely, perfumed nose with an unusual medicinal edge. Again, lovely southern character. Opaque purple/ black -- the darkest of the Baruels. Massively tannic with dense fruit and firm acidity. Needs time, but will it ever resolve? Excellent.

1989 Domaine du Baruel
This is unusual in that this is the only vintage that was matured in new oak barriques, rather than the large, neutral foudres that the other wines saw. Still deep coloured, it is a huge, red/black monster. Lovely, exotic nose of spice, herbs and sweet woody notes. Softening a little on the palate, it is bone dry with herby elements and still-firm tannins. Super stuff. Very good/ excellent.

1998 Domaine du Baruel Cuvée Fontanilles
Just bottled. Youthful colour: purple rather than the red/black of the other vintages. Beautiful, evolved smoky nose with rich fruit. Lighter and fruitier than the other vintages, but still quite tannic. Attractive, but seems to be a bit lighter; maybe this will put on weight with age. Good.

1998 Domaine du Baruel
Just bottled. Subtle nose. A substantial wine with dense tannins and dry, earthy fruit. Rich stuff. Plenty of structure with real southern character. [note: we were served both the barrel samples and the freshly bottled wines of both the 1998s, and there seemed to be a noticeable difference between the respective wines. The notes here are from the bottled samples.]