Les Vignobles Foncalieu (a co-operative), Atelier Prestige de Foncalieu, L’Apogee, AOP Saint-Chinian, Hérault, Occitanie, France, 2013
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: grown on sandstone (‘grès à reptiles’) and clayey-limestone at 180m altitude, bottle No. 0865 (3600 bts), a blend of 85% syrah and 15% grenache noir, yields ~15hl/ha; coated natural cork closure, 14.5% abv, Les Caveaux d’Ensérune, Capestang, €20 (05/18)
Consumer tasting note: deep ruby hued, with aromas of stewed black cherry, black currant, vanilla and cumin, black olive, cedary hints, and old leather; full-bodied, with firm yet ripe tannins, and a profile of black currant boiled sweets, black cherry, spicy red plum jam, stewed strawberry and savoury. Finishes long. Decant for 30 minutes.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity ruby, showing tears [a tiny quantity of fine sediment].
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of a touch of gunpowder (like old style spent shotgun cartridges), spicy stewed black cherry edged with black currant, cumin, hint of vanilla, beeswax, black olive, black plum jam, savoury, hints of cedar, leaf humus, old leather.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, ripe medium (+) tannins, medium (+) alcohol, full body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture, with flavours of black currant boiled sweets first then black cherry, spicy red plum jam, stewed strawberry, a savoury edge, a hint of coconut right on the end. A long length, with a clean moderately grippy finish of stewed black currant tinged with black cherry boiled sweets, and a savoury edge.
Quality: very good, a sound structure of not quite high acidity and ripe yet firm tannins, balancing the medium-high alcohol, the tannins should round out a touch more to bring a more perfect balance after 1-2 years; sound intensity throughout, with similar concentration, showing a sound moderate complexity, with evidence of deft use of oak, with some lovely spicy notes interlacing the ripe-stewed black fruit profile, along with an emerging tertiary dimension of beeswax, leaf humus and old leather. Follows into a just long length
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: can drink now, but has potential for further ageing over say 1-2 years – already on the tertiary path, a couple of years will give time for the tannins to round out a little more, improving the overall experience; a sound structure, plenty of intensity and concentration, with indicative length.