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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
30 Sep 2004

The Berrys of Grand Cru Wines sent this report on their fascinating-sounding recent tasting:

Held on 29 sep, our blind tasting of four of France's most highly esteemed wines, against comparative wines from the Languedoc Roussillon region, was very instructive and enjoyable. In all 35 people tasted the wines, including several top journalists. We had chosen two Bordeaux, and two Rhones, to illustrate four flights of wines, each representing a classic grape variety, and we asked tasters to mark each wine out of 20 on its individual merits, and to indicate which wine they thought was which. Evidently, many of the tasters were less well acquainted with the southern wines than with the classics, some of which many tasted for the first time. The tasting results were computed, taking the average points for each wine.

We kicked off the evening with the Merlot based flight; Chateau Pétrus, Pomerol, (at a market price of around £400 a bottle), tasted blind alongside 1999 Merle aux Alouettes, Vin de Pays d'Oc from Alain Chabanon in Montpeyroux, (£20.95 retail), and 1999 Domaine de Ravanès Les Graviers du Taurou, Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Murviel. (£16.95 retail).

Our second flight was of wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon: 2000 Chateau Léoville Barton, St Jullien, at a market price of around £70.00, alongside 2000 Domaine les Creisses Les Brunes, Vin de Pays d'Oc(retail £18.50), and 2000 Domaine de la Grange des Peres, Vin de Pays de l'Hérault, (retail £35.00).

We moved to the Rhone varietals for the third and fourth flight, the third Syrah-based flight comparing the 2001 Hermitage from Domaine Jean Louis Chave, at a market price of around £80.00 with 2001 Clos de la Belle, Vin de Pays du Gard (£22.95 retail), and 2002 Clot de l'Oum Numéro Uno Cotes du Roussillon Villages Caramany (£16.95 retail.)

The final flight was based on Grenache, with a comparison of 2000 Chateau Rayas, Chateauneuf du Pâpe (Market price around £80.00), teamed with 2000 Les Boissières, Domaine Font Caude, Coteaux du Languedoc from Alain Chabanon (£17.95 retail) and 2001 Terre Inconnue "Les Abuelos" Vin de Table from Robert Creus (£23.50 retail).

Flight 1, Merlot based
As a trio, all three wines performed well, with all three wines neck and neck in terms of overall marks. Many tasters were surprised that the Pétrus didn't stand out more.

1999 Merle aux Alouettes, Alain Chabanon 16.08 points
1999 Domaine de Ravanès Les Graviers du Taurou 16.05 points
1999 Château Pétrus, Pomerol 15.92 points

Flight 2, Cabernet based
No great surprises here, with both the Léoville Barton and the Grange des Peres very highly rated but quite different in style.

2000 Château Léoville Barton, St Julien 16.91 points
2000 Domaine de la Grange des Pères 16.88 points
2000 Domaine les Creisses Les Brunes 14.48 points

Flight 3, Syrah based
Tasters liked the elegance of the Clos de la Belle and the mineral style of the Clot de l'Oum, and the Chave showed very well also. This was maybe the most exciting group of all, with three very fine wines.

2002 Clot de l'Oum Numero Uno 17.09 points
2001 Hermitage, Chave 16.17 points
2001 Clos de la Belle 16.11 points

Flight 4, Grenache based
Many tasters were surprised by the light colour of the Rayas [noted before on this site - JR], and opinions were divided, although many obviously liked the wine very much. Some found the Los Abuelos almost too concentrated and 'late harvest' in style.

2000 Les Boissières, Domaine Font Caude 16.69 points
2000 Château Rayas, Chateauneuf du Pape 16.05 points
2001 Terre Inconnue Los Abuelos 15.09 points

The overall wine votes were very even across the board, with only about 2.5 votes separating the top wine from the bottom wine, giving the following result:

Wine name is followed by the proportion of tasters who identified the wine correctly (in brackets), the highest/lowest score and finally the average score out of 20
1. 2002 Clot de l'Oum Numéro Uno (46%), 19.5/12, 17.09
2. 2000 Château Léoville Barton (77%), 19/11, 16.91
3. 2000 Domaine de la Grange des Pères (58%), 19/13, 16.88
4. 2000 Les Boissières, Alain Chabanon (36%), 19/11, 16.69
5. 2001 Hermitage, JL Chave (50%), 20/13, 16.17
6. 2001 Clos de la Belle (38%), 18.5/8, 16.11
7. 1999 Merle aux Alouettes, Chabanon (41%), 19/12, 16.08
8=. 1999 Domaine de Ravanès Graviers du Taurou (45%), 19/10, 16.05
8=. 2000 Château Rayas, Châteauneuf du Pape (46%), 20/12, 16.05
10. 1999 Château Pétrus, Pomerol (45%), 20/10, 15.92
11. 2001 Terre Inconnue Los Abuelos (32%), 18/11, 15.08
12. 2000 Domaine les Creisses Les Brunes (65%), 20/10, 14.48

All the bottles were opened four hours before the tasting, and decanted.
More details about our producers can be found on our website, on www.grandcruwinesltd.net .
If you would like to purchase any of these Languedoc Roussillon wines, we have small stocks of most of them available. (The 1999 Merle aux Alouettes and the 2000 Grange des Pères are extremely limited in quantity.)

Grand Cru Wines Ltd.
1100-5 Avenue des Alpilles
13310 Saint Martin de Crau, France
email: gcw@wanadoo.fr
fax: +33 490 47 1321
tel: +33 490 47 2906
www.grandcruwinesltd.net