Update - an even better price from Roberson (£8.95 and £9.95 respectvely) and huge enthusiasm for the wines on the forum...
I write in Four tastings at odds with each other published today about a particularly inspiring tasting at the London wine retailer Roberson last Wednesday. Not that many of the wines were under £10 a bottle but this 'natural wine' is absolutely stunning value and, I thought, an appropriate choice since Britain's first Natural Wine Fair starts this Sunday at Borough Market, London. It's also delicious proof that great Languedoc wines are not necessarily limited to those Languedoc Grands Crus.
Mas Coutelou, 7 Rue de la Pompe 2010 Vin de Table is a Languedoc Syrah that just soars out of the glass with its freshness and purity. It's bone dry and tastes super-healthy, finishing bone dry after a great mouthful of fruit - quite a contrast to more souped-up, industrial products. It is just 12.5% alcohol and has had no added sulphur but tasted quite stable to me in the admittedly cool cellars below Roberson's store on Kensington High Street. It costs just £8.95 either there or on the Roberson website.
I also liked the dramatic label shown here and could even live with the red wax seal (which I find succumb to foil cutters just like a thinner foil or capsule would). I would drink it as a beloved house wine, with or even without food, this year and next. What a shame I have already stashed away Gérard Charvet's 2009 Moulin-à-Vent as our house wine for the summer... Maybe the Beaujolais will see us through into 2012?
Jean-François Coutelou is based in Puimisson between Béziers and Pézenas and has 14 hectares of Ecocert-certified (since way back in 1987!) organic, now biodynamic, vineyards on which average yields are apparently 20-35 hl/ha. He varies the wines he makes each year according to the character of the vintage. His father was more famous for old, sweet Grenache. Roberson's energetic buyer, wine enthusiast and first-year Master of Wine student Mark Andrew first came across his wines in a natural wine bar in Grenoble, the way you do. As he explained to me, 'I was really impressed by the wine but had never heard of Coutelou. First of all I checked to see whether Caves de Pyrène [the UK's biggest importer of natural wine] imported it and when I saw they didn't I went to visit them.' Roberson are now offering four wines from Coutelou, including two quite incredibly good value 2001s at £14.95, still on the market for some reason.
My favourite of the two was the bordeaux blend Mas Coutelou, Ouest 2001 Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Murviel which has amazing intensity and subtlety, and only 12.5% alcohol, but the richer, prunier Mediterranean blend Mas Coutelou, Sud 2001 Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Murviel (clever names) is also stunning value at £14.95. Truly, a good address!
See its exact location here - and no, it's not at 7 rue de la Pompe.
* Purple pager Dave Stenton has spotted, as reported here on Members' forum, that the 2001s are currently selling for just £9.95 on the Robersons website rather than the £14.95 cited on their tasting sheet. What a totally ridiculous price.