jamie goode's wine blog: Another 'hot' wine

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Another 'hot' wine

A hot wine for the wrong reasons. This should have been better: Calvet Thunevin Cuvee Constance 2004 Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes has the backing of the famous Jean-Luc Thunevin of Valandraud, and it's a blend of Grenache and Carignan from the wonderful terroir of . But it's just not quite right. There's some smooth, liqueur-like, almost over-ripe red fruit character, stewing away in alcohol, which makes its presence felt both on the nose and the palate. I don't want to put my dear readers off this blog by a string of Meldrew-like negative notes (I just call things as I see them and include the negative alongside the positives); nor do I want you to think I'm on a bit of a crusade against high alcohol. It's just that this wine seems to have too much of it, and would probably be much better with less. If I haven't put you off completely, then you can buy it from Waitrose for 8.99. Says 15% alcohol on the label.

I was surprised to see this as one of Jancis' wines of the week here. Surprised, because she tends to dislike hot wines. Readers may be interested to know that Thunevin has his own blog (here in English).



At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps as well as providing competition specific brews: http://www.decanter.com/news/102791.html wine producers also have a special mix for Jancis ?

At 12:10 AM, Blogger g58 said...

Jancis likes hot wines as long as they are balanced, or at least that's how she replied to me when I inquired about her picking Casa Lapostolle as wine of the week last year -- a 14.5% alcohol Sauvignon. Like vodka at lunch. Wow that's hot!

At 12:35 AM, Anonymous Doug said...

I think the word "hot" is a pejorative term in wine tasting. It implies, by definition, a wine whereby the alcohol is unbalanced in relation to the structure of the wine. Grenache is one of the few grapes that can carry alcohol(Priorato, Chateauneuf), although I find the best examples are those aged in old-fashioned foudres. The problem with modern winemaking techniques is a combination of too much extraction and too much new oak lacquering without true phenolic ripeness. The wonderful Marjorie Gallet (Domaine Le Roc des Anges) observes that in the Roussillon it is very easy for grapes achieve incendiary levels of potential alcohol without corresponding ripeness.

In the past three days I've tried three wines at 12% or under! An intensely mineal Refosco from Friuli, a juicy Marcillac and an unsulphured Gamay d'Auvergne - all delicious wines that you could drink bucketloads of. A reminder that wine can be a joyously refreshing drink and not just a big fat blob of supeconcentrated flavour.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Cameron said...

Hi Jamie, Just a note to say that, in a way, I'm delighted to read negative reviews of wines. I don't think you're really the Meldrew type, and what criticisms you have are usually pretty well justified. Any reviewing that is wholly positive is, to my mind, pretty pointless, and something of a disservice. So, y'know, maintain the rage as it were...

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's right! I have tasted these wines with Thunevin himself. They do taste kind of "hot". It seems that the alcohol is not completely integrated into the wine.
They should visit estates in Montsant, wines like Brunus are showing great fruit intensity, and although alcohol content is high, a 14,5%, it doesn't burn the mouth!!

As well, I have tasted sancerre la grande Cote 2003 from Cotat - also a Sauvignon at 15%!!! and amazingly balanced.

You should try, domaine du Rouge-gorge a new domaine that produces some very elegant carignan wine in the same area.


At 10:19 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Cameron, thanks for the feedback

g58, an interesting piece, thank you

Doug, agree about Grenache - also the three wines you mention sound fantastic

Anon, nice to know someone shares my perceptions: agree that wines can be quite alcoholic and balanced.

At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Jim Boyce said...

Sorry to come into this post late!

I was googling Jean-Luc Thunevin because I interviewed him last week. I enjoyed his "bad boy" wine and, even more, learning that he tried to make wine in China four years ago. Unfortunately, things didn't work out so we still tend to have producers giving us thin, dry, red boring reds. Anyway, if anyone is interested in his tales of making wine in China, here is the link:


Cheers, Boyce


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