Offcuts: miscellaneous French wines

On Thursday evening, I tasted a range of French wines imported by Black Pearl Epicure. Most haven’t been seen in Australia before. Interestingly, the tasting was arranged for Brisbane’s wine bloggers and tweeters. So, as you might imagine, there was some furious mobile phone action as we tasted.

While I feel the wines showed unevenly, they are consistently well-priced and interesting in provenance. These were my favourites on the night.

Domaine Vincent Paris Saint Joseph 2008 ($40)

A huge black pepper nose with underlying red fruit and meat. Just so typical and vibrant, and perhaps difficult to unpack for those with a firm preference towards warmer climate expressions of Shiraz. This, though, is right up my alley. The palate is quite tannic for now, light to medium bodied with a juicy and bright entry. Red fruits are joined by brambles and mulberries through the middle palate. I like the structure here; it’s robust without feeling forced or heavy. Just a great drinking wine with heaps of character. Good value too.

Domaine Les Aphillanthes Cuvée des Galets Côtes du Rhône 2007 ($33)

Lincoln Scott, of GrapeScott fame, was also in attendance and rightly pointed out this wine’s rather prune-ish flavour profile. Normally I would find such fruit character questionable, but in this wine I read it as a positive, cranberry-ish note that meshes well with the dried herbs and musk also on offer. Overall, a very savoury experience. The palate shows dried red fruits, heavily smoked bacon and nice tannins in a mid-weight package. A nice, characterful wine that should provide a point of difference for most local drinkers.

Domaine Grand Veneur Lirac 2007 ($35)

A bruiser of a wine in some respects, clocking in at 15% abv. But it works for me. An aroma profile that is wild in the most positive sense, with clean fruit, brambles and other complexities, all wonderfully expressive. The medium bodied palate is perhaps less outré than the nose leads one to expect, but is nonetheless clean, dark and full of tasty plum fruit. Good thrust through the finish, with nice herbal tannins.

Gevrey-Chambertin par Mark Haisma 2007 ($65)

I struggled to taste anything of this wine on the night, owing to its unfortunate position as the wine tasted just after two Champagnes. I could tell its mouthfeel was particularly supple, but that’s about it. So I took the remains of the bottle home with me to retaste.

As one might expect from a Village-level wine, this isn’t great Burgundy, but there’s a lot to enjoy here. It’s funky for starters, something I often enjoy with Pinot but which seems to appear less and less, in local wines at least. There are minerals, light red fruits and savoury complexities on the nose and, although it lacks some depth, it’s all very fun to smell.

The palate is incredibly soft and supple, emphasising the sensual side of Pinot. The wine’s density of flavour, though light, is consistent along the line, and within this rather feathery experience there’s enough complexity to keep things interesting. Perhaps the wine lacks some vitality, the sort of lively punch that doesn’t imply brutality so much as enthusiasm. Nice loose-knit tannins through the finish.

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