tasting note 15
Grande Cassagne Civette Rouge 2005 CostiŤres de NÓmes, France
Iíve said it before: the world needs good cheap wine.
This is an inexpensive red from the South of France, but it has really
connected with me this evening. Why? Because it combines joy with
seriousness. Let me try to explain.
This is actually not a wine that youíd want to spend
too long contemplating. Fruit is the key. Vibrant, slightly sweet,
raspberryish, mineral-tinged fruit. But should you choose to dwell a
little longer over it, your attention is rewarded. As well as the
primary fruit, thereís a mineral, earth and rain-on-pavements sort
of aroma, together with a bit of baked fruit/summer pudding. The
palate combines this forward sweet fruitiness with a nice grippy
tannic savouriness and a hint of pepper. Itís flirting with
overextraction, but in the context of a wine with such vibrant sweet
fruit, a little too much tannin can be a good thing because it
balances the wine out nicely, keeping it savoury and food friendly.
But the real connection this evening has come from that
elusive quality we wine geeks tend to bang on about, without ever
defining properly: sense of place. As I drink this wine I am
transported to the south of France. Itís a warm, balmy evening. The
sun set two hours ago, but itís still warm enough to be sitting
outside in a T-shirt and shorts. A gentle breeze stirs the air; there
are more stars than you could think possible Ė quite startling for a
city dweller Ė but the dominant sensory impression is an aural one:
the startlingly loud chirp of the cicadas. Itís a brash, rasping
sort of noise, but it fits in this context, and by some means the ear
seems to filter it out Ė just like the loudness of the dawn chorus,
it is unconsciously ignored. In the background, at some distance,
thereís music playing, the muffled sound of relaxed chatter, and the
percussive thud-then-clink of petanque balls. This wine speaks.
suddenly itís a hot summerís day, and Iím walking through the
garrigue. The air feels heavy with heat and the aroma of the south;
itís not oppressive like the tropics, but itís a strange sort of
presence that has to do with the confluence of heat, stillness, the
vapours given off by garrigue and the stony ruggedness of the southern
landscapes. In a weird sort of way, that Iím quite prepared to
concede has more to do with my imagination than reality, this wine
communicates this sense of place to me.
I canít think of an occasion where I wouldnít enjoy
this wine. Itís fun and fruity enough to be drunk in quantity
without too much thought Ė you wouldnít feel bad serving this as a
party wine. But should you want to bring it out to play at a more
serious occasion, then it would acquit itself well: itís not a tart
of a wine that has divulged itself of any seriousness whatsoever. This
is still proper wine, and it would work well at the table. The slight
jamminess to the fruit and the hint of rusticity to the tannins are
entirely forgiveable in this context.
Availability: Grand Cru Wines (www.grandcruwinesltd.net),
priced around £7.
Roc des Anges; Gaillard;
Foundry and Columella; Meruge;
Foillard Morgon; Clonakilla;
Latour 1934; Thevenet
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