Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan – a note on character

A friend once described me as the Jeremy Clarkson of the wine world; I'm not entirely sure what he meant but controversial, brash, rude, punchy, paunchy or even successful may have been what caused him to link the two of us. More of that later. Belles Eaux - beautiful waters. Like people, wines have characters. Some attractive, others less so and what this wine doesn't lack is character. From the moment the jammy scented cork was removed, its presence was well and truly announced and this was clearly going to be no shrinking violet. The Carignan grape, originally from Spain, is known for its fruitiness and dark berries abound in the bouquet of this vintage. Note that with an 'e' on the end, it becomes an American grape - why do they insist on doing everything differently there? Is that the essence of their colonial character? Looking at the wine, it's a deep, deep red; a very belle eau indeed. Taste is blackcurrant, blackberries, plums and dark rum balanced by acidity and tannins in just the right proportions. Michael Broadbent describes the Carignan grape as being rather neutral, and hugely respecting as I am of his views, the implication of a character void is not a position I support in this particular instance. This wine has the character of a Rococo drawing room, warmed by a glowing fire and with close friends dotted around on plush seats. Character, a quality decidedly absent in neither Mas Belles Eaux Carignan nor Jeremy Clarkson, is of course no guarantee of agreeability. Happily, in the case of the wine, I am pleased to say that I found it hugely agreeable. Clarkson, like me, is a subject for your own discernment and that, dear reader, is possibly all that we have in common.

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