Super southern French red
I feel bad. I've been neglecting the Languedoc a bit. I first really discovered it through Mike and Liz Berry's wonderful shop La Vigneronne, on Old Brompton Road in South Kensington (it's now Handford Wines). But for a few years I've not been following this dynamic region as closely as I should have been.
As I write, I'm drinking a really impressive Minervois. It encapsulates what is great about the best Languedoc reds: it's ripe without being jammy or soupy; it has freshness; there's non-fruit complexity; it's affordable.
Domaine Tour Trencavel Minervois 'Lo Cagarol' 2004 Languedoc, France
This is a tight, youthful, brooding effort that needs time to develop. After half-and-hour it's beginning to show its real personality: dark spicy, slightly earthy notes underpinning focused plum and blackberry fruit on the nose, leading to a savoury, mineralic palate with superb balance between the fruit and the slightly earthy structure. There's a real elegance here, and while it's a heady 14.5% alcohol, there's no impression of over-ripeness. The Carignan makes its presence felt here to good effect. 91/100 (£10.99 http://www.therealwineco.co.uk/; see also http://www.domaine-tour-trencavel.com/)