Domaine Thierry Navarre, Tonneaux, AOC/AOP Saint-Chinian, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 1999
Saint-Chinian is sandwiched between Minervois to the west and Faugeres to the east, lying 20-40kms from the Mediterranean coast to the south-east, with a main city of Beziers. Soils are schist or clay-limestone. Permitted varieties are GSM, carignan and cinsault, and whites of grenache, marsanne, rousasanne and rolle (aka vermentino) and subsidiary varieties.
This wine: a blend of grenache, carignan, cinsault and syrah, grown on schistous soils, natural cork closure, 14% abv, Gauntleys bin end, £7 (was £19) (2015)
Consumer tasting note: a rich well-developed nose of toasty black fruits, with dried berries and herbs and sweet tobacco. Medium-full bodied, tannins though ripe are a little drying – but perfect with a rich beef or venison casserole, showing more toasty, dried and baked black fruits with warm liquorice and blackcurrant on the medium-long length. Benefits from a couple of hours decanting.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity garnet, showing tears.
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of warm toast, lifted black cherry and black berry, dried currants, dried herbs, a little damp earth, touch of spicy stewed red plum, sweet tobacco, liquorice.
Palate: dry, medium acidity, medium (+) slightly drying ripe tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture and sense of sweet ripe black cherry in mid-palate, with flavours of baked red cherry and black cherry, dried herbs, dried currants and raisins, warm toast, warm liquorice, a little ripe blackcurrant lift on the end. A medium (+) length with toasty black fruited moderately grippy finish.
Quality: a very good quality wine, balanced acidity and tannins with flavour intensity, alcohol is harmonious. Well developed from bottle age showing baked and dried fruits and damp earthy notes, along with toasty and spicy nuances from time in oak; some complexity and decent but nothing too special concentration. Tannins are a little drying but are currently in sympathy with the whole. A decent length.
Readiness for drinking/ageing potential: can drink now, will not improve with further time in cellar, but will keep for a year or two – has some age now and the tannins may well become more insistently drying and overwhelm the currently pleasing palate.