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A hearty meal was called for tonight; something warming, unfancy and wholesome; a Shepard’s pie seemed ideal. Fine mince lamb, chopped onion, a few herbs and Worcester sauce simmered under a topping of locally produced potato, mashed with double cream and butter and spiked with grated nutmeg.

The urge for a Rhone red remained unfulfilled; at the price I wanted to pay there was nothing available. A compromise with a Languedoc red seemed ideal.

Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Clavel Les Catalognes, 2003, Coteaux du Languedoc, France.
Available from Oddbins for £6.49.
A blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah – which is just about Rhoney enough. The nose is a little bretty, mushrooms, undergrowth and shit mixed in with squishy black-fruits and some oriental spices. The palate is distinctive. Rough tannins coupled with fruit that has melded into a spicy, coffee-laced whole over the years. There is a touch of port-like richness initially, before the flavours evolve into an inky, blackberry finish. It needs food; with the pie it was fine mixing deliciously with the creamy potatoes and lamb base. Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating – 88/100

Domaine Clavel is in Pic St Loup, just a stones throw from the Rhone area. They maintain a website. Sadly the English translation part of the site doesn’t load, but translating part of it, it would seem that the wine offers “Great moment of table” and “assured laughter”. While the site lists Grenache, Carignan and Syrah as the constituent grapes the Oddbins page adds Mourvedre, Muscat Petit Grians and Pinot Gris to the mix. I think they must have that wrong.

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