Friday, February 7, 2014

Bel Air Ouy 2011 - 3 Marie 2009

For dinner last Sunday after drinking a Valandraud Blanc 2011, the bottle of Bel Air Ouy 2011 was quite simply delicious; a confirmation that we understood this vintage: a complex nose of black cherries and vanilla, a soft and smooth mouth, nice length and balance, light and not overly powerful. Not enough for a 100 point rating but perfect to satisfy modern, Right Bank Bordeaux drinkers with their dinner.

The 3 Marie 2009 of Thunevin Calvet, rated 92-93 in June 2011 for the Wine Advocate by David Schildknecht with the following comment:

“Thunevin and Calvet’s 2011 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Les Trois Marie follows the path blazed by its 2010 predecessor, with its Grenache unaccompanied and raised in foudre. Hints of caramelized resin and coconut are evident as a result of the newness of oak, though this dovetails nicely with the sweet, seamless sense of seamless ripeness – rather reminiscent of the corresponding 2009, as is the surprising degree of lift engendered in a sappily-sustained finish. Hints of mint and white pepper add interest to a wine that may well – in contrast with its stable mates – prove marginally less-impressive than its 2010 counterpart, though it is still going to richly repay return visits through at least 2022.

Jean-Roger Calvet and off-site partner Jean-Luc Thunevin (for more about whose collaboration and its evolution consult my reports in issue 183 and 195) continue a trend toward gentle pumping-over rather than pumping-down. Maturation is increasingly in demi-muids – supplemented, as always by tanks – and a third foudre was recently added, barriques having meantime slipped to third if not fourth-place among vinificatory vessels (and with a change in tonnelier that I can only welcome, too). The result, predictably, is wines with more vivid fruit and nuance without sacrificing the least bit of richness, demonstrating that they had nothing to lose but a certain superficial tanninity and caramelization of oak resin. Another trend to which Calvet readily testifies: more emphasis on showcasing Carignan and Grenache, with Mourvedre getting its own less-expensive cuvee and Syrah appearing primarily in a supporting role, specifically in “Hugo.” (New pure Macabeu and pure Grenache Gris whites speak to an analogous trend toward showcasing individual autochthones.) A final trend toward earlier harvest in 2008-2010 has, as Calvet points out, been driven by drought conditions and heat, whereas 2011 offered greater flexibility. Still, even about 2011 he remarks apropos Carignan “better to pick it a day early than a day late.” Calvet compares 2011 to the even ripening, generous fruit and harmony achieved in 2007, except with significantly higher yields, though at 40 hectoliters per hectare on his most productive young vines, these are hardly what growers in most of the world would call “high.” Picking was early and handling including vinification especially gentle in 2012 – encompassing a significant share of whole-berry but stem-free vatting, notably for Carignan – to compensate for the effects of the hail that hit Maury especially hard. “It wasn’t a vintage for seeking a lot of extraction,” he opines, “though our Mourvedre was an exception insofar as it was less-impacted by the hail.”

Opened on the 28th January then put in the fridge with it's cork and drunk on the 2nd February was so powerful and unbelievably sharp and as has been said before, deserves, like Hervé Bozeul's La Petite Sibérie, ratings above 95/100!

Controversy: just to make a quick comparaison, the journalist (businessman) Jean Emmanuel Simond, head of the Languedoc and the Roussillon, made our wine disappear, though it was previously selected by Bettane and Desseauve, from the top wineries selected by the RVF and their guide. Fortunately, Bettane and Desseauve's wine guide of France has given us 'three glasses', just like Gauby or Bizeul, Abbé Rous, Coume del Mas, Gardiés, Tour Vieille, Roc des Anges, Rectorie, Fagayra! I can only invite you to read the comments for our 3 Marie or our Maury for yourselves.

Thursday 7th Feb 2014

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