Re-Inventing The Wheel

Corbières L’Entêté – Jeff Carrel – 2011 – Averys of Bristol- £12.99

The Languedoc in the south of France is an area which constantly challenges and surprises, whether it’s the varied landscape, the people, the history, the food or in fact the wines. There is always something interesting to do, see or to taste.

Jeff Carrel is one of the characters of the Languedoc, originally from Paris, but now firmly at home in the south, he has broken the mould – reinventing some of the old Classics and pioneering a new style of southern wine… Did I mention he was a Parisian?

Jeff has gained the reputation of being somewhat eclectic, whilst true in the sense of the word I would go so far as to suggest that he is reflective of the new generation of winemaker to be found in Languedoc. Now responsible for a large range of wines including forgotten gems like Fitou and Cotes du Roussillon, even managing to put his unique spin on the un-fashionable Chardonnay, Carrell wines are like no other and can on occasion surprise and polarize.

Corbières is the largest of the AOC appellations in the South west, consisting of 11 separate Terroirs. Lezignan-Corbières produces this particular cuvee, and whilst there are 19 permitted grape varieties which can be used under the appellation, there are lead grape varieties expected in both red and white wines produced here. For red wines, a minimum of two grape varieties must be grown. Grenache, Lledoner Pelut, Mourvèdre and Syrah (the main grape varieties with the exception of Carignan) must together make up at least 50 per cent of the vineyard plantings. In this case there are low yielding Syrah vines and old vine Carignan, all handpicked and blended skilfully to produce this wine.

L’Entêté translates as Stubborn, which in fact is quite an interesting description of this wine. To the eye this wine is deep red in colour, on the nose there is dark fruits and spice, you can really smell the arid warmth of the terroir. This wine generates a real sense of place, unmistakably complex. On the palate it’s big, uncompromising and dare I say it stubborn. There is an unmistakable core of dark fruit and cherry, overlaid with spice and garrigue notes. The finish is long and rich, with a wonderful lick of cassis, yet the level of acidity is enough to give an almost refreshing finish. Pairing with big flavours this wine is a match for red meats, strong cheese and sings with Toulouse Sausage.

Certainly, this wine will divide, yet it will also provide tangible proof of the ability of the winemaker to reinvent a forgotten style, I for one have nothing but praise for Jeff Carrell’s wines, and like the area they come from, I am constantly surprised by what can be achieved with a stubborn belief in re-interpretation of what was past forgotten, wine should have a sense of place and Terroir, there is no doubt this wine delivers that…Bon Weekend!

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