Domaine Thierry Navarre, Tonneaux, AOC Saint-Chinian, Hérault, Occitanie, 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: lot No. none found, at least no L prefix, though there is Monroe 31189, so assume a single bottling run (lot numbering on the bottle became mandatory in 1992), a blend of grenache, carignan, cinsault and syrah, grown on schistous soils, coated natural cork closure, 14% abv, Gauntleys bin end, £7 (was £19) (2015)
Last tasted 10/09/16
Consumer tasting note: garnet hued with a dominant profile of bottle age – dried herbs, leaf humus and old polished wood, balanced by notes of rich dark berries and black cherry, black liquorice, black olive and cedar; medium-full bodied with soft ripe tannins and supporting fresh(ish) acidity. Finishes soundly long.
Drink now – RTD, but will keep – Wait. Double decant off the sediment, then it is ready to drink, drink up now or within a year or two.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity garnet, showing tears [1/4 teaspoon of soft sediment].
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, fully developed, with aromas as they come, of red berry jam edged with a clear hint of cut cucumber (a first), warm cedar, black liquorice, smoke, slightly high-toned stewed rich black cherry, beeswax, warm leaf humus, black olive in brine, a delicate hint of black berry, slightly lifted red plum jam, old polished wood. [on day 2, minty-chocolate-coconut turns up]
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, ripe medium tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture, with flavours of black berry, richer black cherry, cedar, dried herbs, black liquorice, touch of blackcurrant jam. A very long length (>30s) with a clean stewed black berry and black liquorice edged with blackcurrant finish.
Quality: very good, perfectly balanced fresh(ish) acidity and smooth ripe unobtrusive tannins with well-integrated alcohol; a sound but not remarkable intensity throughout, with similar concentration, showing moderate-high complexity from time in perfectly integrated wood (cedar, smoke) and long slumbering in bottle (beeswax, black olive, dried herbs, cedar, leaf humus, old polished wood), follows into a very long length.
Readiness for drinking/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing, but will keep for 1-3 years – a sound structure and balance, clearly garnet hued, indicating advanced age (but no mushroom note, as yet) with a fully developed character dominated by tertiary development. Drinking well, but drink up now, whilst there is a pleasant balance of residual fruit, secondary, and tertiary notes.