A quick whizz around the southern Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon courtesy of Tierhoek’s Roger Burton, who brought back some interesting wines from those regions after visiting a while back. Grenache features strongly in that part of the world while Tierhoek is one of the few local properties to bottle a single variety example of the variety and hence Burton’s interest.
Wines tasted included everything from a 2003 and 2004 from Domaine La Millière in Châteauneuf-du-Pape through to a 2006 from Domaine de La Rectorie in Collioure (I didn’t note the particular cuvée) right on the border of France and Spain. Generally, wines with plenty of rough edges but all the more charming as a result.
Interspersed with these were various South African wines made from varieties traditionally associated with the Rhône and southern France. The wines made by Meerlust winemaker Chris Williams under his own label called The Foundry showed very well, in particular a textured and fresh Roussanne 2010 as well as an outstanding Syrah 2007 – great fruit purity and a riveting line of acidity.
Burton showed as his 2009 Grenache-Syrah 2009 (55:45) as well as the 2007 and yet-to-be released 2009 vintages of his Grenache.
The blend was well conceived with concentrated red and black fruit, fresh acidity and relatively soft tannins; the two single variety examples of Grenache meanwhile were both rich and broad structured with sweet strawberry fruit, moderate acidity and again soft tannins. Very appealing but lacking real complexity. Burton, who’s stint at at Tierhoek dates back only to 2006, is under no illusions about this, and suggests that it takes a winemaker at least a decade at a particular property before the wines really start to shine. “In any event, I like wines with character. If 90% of my wines achieve this and the other 10% fail spectacularly, then I’ll be happy.”