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The wines of Château Puech-Haut, Coteaux du Languedoc
2250 Route de Teyran, 34160 Saint-Drézéry, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 67 86 93 70 Fax: +33 (0)4 67 86 94 07

This recently renovated 50 ha estate is located near to the village of Saint-Drézéry, a short distance northeast of Montpellier. It's a smart modern operation, and you get the impression that money hasn't been a particular problem in setting up the estate. Red wines come from Grenache and Syrah; whites from Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier. I was bowled over by the Tête Cuvée Blanc 1999, which is an opulent, exotic white wine in a modern style. The two red cuvées were also impressive, the 1997s currently showing very well, although the 1998s -- presently very youthful -- may well be even better in a few years' time. In style these wines tread a nice balance between old and new world character.

Tête Cuvée Blanc 1999
A stunning effort. A blend of Roussane, Marsanne and Viognier, barrel fermented and aged in new oak. Remarkable and lovely aromatic nose, with honey, peach, apricot and grapey notes, together with some attractive spiciness. It has a lovely rich texture on the palate, with great balance. Smoky and rich. Excellent

Tête Cuvée Rouge 1997
Two-thirds Syrah, one-third old vine Carignan. This is a concentrated red/purple colour with a smoky, earthy nose that displays sweet fruit and oak. Concentrated, balanced palate with more sweet fruit and earth/smoky notes. Good balance. Very good/excellent

Tête Cuvée Rouge 1998
A concentrated red/purple colour, this is a youthful wine with a nose of ripe fruit. Concentrated and ripe on the palate with firm tannins. This dense, tannic wine has great potential for further development. Very good+

Cuvée Prestige Rouge 1997
Two-thirds Syrah, one third Grenache. Lovely smoky/herby nose displaying bright fruit. Smoky, balanced palate with a nice earthy edge and sweet fruit. Medium bodied. Very good+

Cuvée Prestige Rouge 1998
Red/black colour. Ripe fruit on the nose is followed by a dense, rich, full palate of ripe fruit and tannins. Needs time to show its best. Very good+
(Note added later: tasted again in March 2001, the Prestige 1998 is still showing the dense fruit, but the new oak has currently come to the for and is a bit dominant. I'd hold opening this for a year or two to try to let things resolve a bit.)

Wines tasted November 2000
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