Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chateau Thénac Côtes de Bergerac 2005

I was at a trade tasting once, a big one. Supermarket buyers were out in force, every major retailer, wholesaler, wine-writer and hanger-on was milling about, swilling and spitting, small-talking and flattering while shippers, wine-makers, middlemen and me were all trying to impress, make a sale or even just get some interest. It wasn't the most fun in the world, but it was ok. I ate a lot of free water biscuits and drank a lot of free water. I tasted, for the first time, a wine I'd made. In fact, I'd foot-trodden the bloody thing.

Standing next to me at the time was a wine-maker from Bergerac. Well, kind of. He was English. But he'd made wine in Bergerac for quite awhile. And, having done so, he had no fucking time for any of the rubbish surrounding him. There was no fake smile, there was no recycling of nonsense yields or percentages, no quaint hook to drag people in; he looked with disillusioned disdain at those around him and shot grins and winks at the women walking by; he poured because he had to, and he was almost daring you not to like his wines.

I didn't like all his wines. I liked some, disliked others. But I liked the attitude. I enjoyed the chat. I learned a bit. I poured, and smiled and tried not to screw up.

That was my introduction to the wines of Bergerac. I remember more about the maker than the cuvées. So I'm revisiting the region, on a whim, with a wee sample a friend passed my way. I'd never heard of it, but I trust the shipper.

The label brags about using Bordeaux techniques. To be fair, Bordeaux is awfully close. It's a bit harsh to criticise for piggy-backing, but it's also kind of a cop-out on their part. Surely building their regional identity will only do better for them in the long run?

Deep and brooding with just a hint of purple on the horizon. The rest seems black.

Dark forest fruit compote on the nose with just the barest hint of cedar and mint - some more fresh herbs begin on the finish as it were. Fairly simple but very pleasant.

The palate boasts a compelling dustiness that I want to say is its quintessential Bregerac-iness. But I've only tasted a couple of them, and so I can't. But I really like it. Dusty fruit compote with a wee touch of black olive and fresh rosemary. I like the tannin structure and the roundness of it. It claims Bordeaux technique and it tastes a bit of it. Blind, I would have said Bordeaux because I wouldn't have known much better. To be honest, the black olive notes would've flummoxed me a tad too - that always sends me Northern Rhône. But it's not a claret. It is different. It should celebrate that, as opposed to grabbing at the glories of another region.


Tasted at Shorehead 21/7/09

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