jamie goode's wine blog: Old vine Carignan

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Old vine Carignan

Carignan is an underdog grape variety. Most people don't rate it, but when it's fully ripe and from vines that yield sensibly - frequently, this means old vines - the results can be really interesting. This is a Languedoc wine from AXA's portfolio (the wine interests of AXA include Noval in the Douro, Pichon Baron in Bordeaux, and Disznoko in Tokaji), and because its 100% Carignan it's labelled as a Vin de Pays.

Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan 2006 Vin de Pays de Caux, France
Old vine Carignan (over 60 years). Forward bright spicy fruit with some pure blackberry character and a bit of sweet black cherry. Nicely dense and savoury with some spiciness. Good combination of sweet pure fruit with some of that savoury, plummy, spicy Carignan character, as well as a bit of earthiness on the finish. Quite youthful with the potential to develop in bottle. 90/100 (£14.99 Bristol Wine Co, Cotswald Vintners, Hendersons Wines, Worcester Wine Co)

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At 11:13 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Just a quick question Jamie - is there any talk about "Old Vine" designation and rules. These vines are 60 years - so old in my book. And some vines in the Domaine de la Pépière are 80 years, so very old. And around the world we hear of wines being produced from 100+ year old vines - so 60 all of a sudden looks positively youthful. I have also heard that grafted vines (nearly all European vines)have a much shorter life span of 40 or so years, but this may be just gossip. I guess the real question is - what has your travels revealed as to the vine age/wine quality question, and is it yet another marketing tool. OK - not such a quock question.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

It's a good question. Why is it that old vines are better? There are a number of answers, but probably the best is that old vines tend to have reduced vigour and are in a natural balance, where each year they tend to yield lower but better quality grapes. Is there any difference between, say 30 year old vines and 50 year old vines, and then between 50 year old and centenarian vines? It's hard to answer this because it will depend on the vineyard site.

Older vines have a bigger root system than younger ones, and depending on the site could be getting a different water supply. They also probably have larger carbohydrate supplies during dormancy. Could this be a factor? Is the hormonal signalling different in older vines?

There's also the possibility that growers farm old vine vineyards differently, with more care.


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