Faugères is one of the Languedoc’s great secrets, a small appellation that deserves to be much better known. Julien Seydoux makes this superb organic red from a blend of Syrah with 35% Grenache, 15% Carignan and 5% Mourvèdre, ageing the result in large wooden foudres and stainless steel tanks. Named after a local stream, it’s appeallingly subtle, floral and refined, with notes of pine and lavender, sweet bramble and red berry fruit, sinewy tannins and a long, mineral-edged finish. Perfect winter drinking.
A four-way Corsican blend of Grenache and Syrah with local Nielluccio and Sciacarello, this is savoury-sweet and complex with a hint of the unshaven rusticity that’s often a feature of the local wines. An unusual French wine that speaks with an Italian accent.
A wine that needs a cold day, snow on the ground and frost on the windowpanes, to show at its best, preferably with a stew bubbling on the stove. It’s a rich, compact, full-throated southern Rhône red with masses of savoury, peppery sweetness, warming alcohol and dense, sun-soaked flavours, with tapenade, clove and blackberry to the fore. Great now, but will age too.
Alain Graillot and his son, Maxime, make some of the best value wines in the northern Rhône Valley, often on a par with more expensive fare from nearby Hermitage. This blend of mostly Marsanne with 20% Roussanne is a stunner: aromatic, mealy and very complex, with notes of brown toast, fresh flowers, oatmeal, peach and citrus fruit. The oak is very subtle, while the finish is long and staisfying. It will age nicely too under screwcap.
The bottle is ludicrously heavy, but the wine inside is very good indeed. Mid garnet/red in colour, complex, perfumed nose of red fruits, some Asian spices and a beautifully balanced, elegant palate with the stuffing to age. The wine is everything that the ponderous bottle isn’t. Impressive stuff from a lesser known name.