I should start by saying I’m very fond of this little property in Limoux, and have drunk the wines frequently over the past year. Caryl Panman, who makes the wines with her husband Jan, came to show us the range last November – and I was, if not blown away, then really charmed and impressed.
This evening I’ve got a bottle of Cuvee Occitania on the go. It’s 100% mauzac, and really good. This is the juice that gives structure and acidity to the famous Blanquette de Limoux. You can taste that here: fresh appley tang and salty minerality on the finish. The nose is interesting, reminding me of cooked bramley and quince. And then there is a savoury note, something like celery salt and cucumber or the greenest of melons. It’s barrel-fermented which gives lovely, but subtle, creamy nutty notes to the nose, and a good texture to the palate. The oak influence is so subtle as to be almost distant. This is about clean fruit, minerality, inherent savoury fruit qualities. The complexity of texture and flavour that come from oak are lovely and distinctive – these wines have to be barrel fermented to take the Limoux AOC. But there’s a lightness of touch and it all tastes quite right.
Oddly, I find it has a slight nail-varnish quality as it warms up, but this ought to be served cold, and I don’t want to do it down, because it’s good. A couple of weeks back, I brought home a bottle of Cuvee Odyssee Chardonnay, which originally I had thought subtle and brilliant, a Burgundy of the South!
On this tasting I found it rather banana-flavouring and again nail varnish. I felt, perhaps, that this was due to it showing badly. I was drinking the 2009, rather than the current 2010. Perhaps this is a chard to drink fresh, or perhaps it was going through a wonky stage. I don’t know.
In any case, these wines are worth trying and worth drinking. The mauzac for me is where the quality lies; it feels correct. Go for Cuvee Occitania, the Blanquette and do try the vintage rose. I haven’t tasted the chenin or the top cuvee “Trilogie” for a while. The unoaked VdP Chenin-Chard blend Domaine Rives-Blanques is also good, for something racy, full and minerally with a bit of punch.
Chateau Rives-Blanques Occitania Mauzac | 13.5% abv | £13 | attractive, 16.5