Mas Sibert, Soleno, Vin de France (Fos, Herault, Occitanie), France, 2014
This wine: lot No. none, one of 300 bottles without added sulfites, out of a single bottling run of 1200; unregistered biodynamic, a blend of merlot and petit verdot; aged for 10 months in re-toasted oak barrique, coated natural cork closure, 13.5% abv, ex-producer, €18 (02/19)
Consumer tasting note: a Vin de France, so given free rein in choice of varieties – in this case merlot and petit verdot. This bottling is with no added sulfites, which does not mean zero sulfites or a sulfite free wine, as sulfites are a by-product of the fermentation process of both red and white wine. Deeply ruby hued, with strong aromas of black cherry and black berries, morphing into red plum jam and red cherry, then a little waxy and meaty, before subsiding to rich warm black liquorice; medium bodied, with ripe moderate tannins and a certain freshness, suiting the rich palate of black berry and cherry, red plum, and a savoury edge. A long length.
Drink now – RTD and will improve over 2-4 years – Wait. No need to decant.
Comparing this unsulfited bottle with a sulfited example (minimum volcanic sulfites added) from the same bottling run: the latter showed a much lesser intensity on the nose, just a touch less on the palate, with a nose dominated by red fruits and berries. The mid-palate was less rich and less complex, a bit thin, very gradually developing, from an initial red fruit profile, a black fruit dimension with creamy black cherry and liquorice, though still a long length. Overall the quality of the sulfited seemed less than the unsulfited example, with repercussions for perceived ageing potential.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity ruby, showing tears and small bubbles [a tiny quantity of soft sediment].
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of a low-key whiff of the farmyard, fragrant stewed red plum, a spicy edge, a touch of blackcurrant with a more delicate edge of blackberry, then richer black cherry, a waxy hint tinged with cedar, dried herbs, dark red plum jam, the merest suggestion of toast, stewed red cherry with a lactic edge, a meaty whiff, and after some time a developing note of warm black liquorice.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, ripe medium tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture with a sense of sweetness in mid-palate, with flavours of black currant boiled sweets, black cherry, cooked red plum, hint of cedar, a touch savoury, a hint of bretty farmyard, black liquorice. A long length, with a clean finish of black berries and a lightly savoury edge on the end.
Quality: very good, perfectly balanced fresh(ish) acidity and ripe moderate tannins with alcohol, perfectly harmonious with the strong intensity and similar concentration; the small bubbles are symptomatic of a low sulfite producer retaining residual fermentation CO2 to protect against oxidation; showing a better than moderate, but not high complexity, of primary fruit, well-integrated exposure to oak (cedar, spice, toast), some time in bottle (savoury, waxy) and a touch of brett; finishes soundly long.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: can drink now, but has potential for further ageing, over say 2-4 years – a sound acid-tannin structure and balance, well-integrated oak, starting to develop a tertiary dimension, with plenty of primary fruit to work with.