Monday, October 15, 2012
Smells Like Cat! Chateau Massiac “Sentinelle de Massiac” AOC Minervois 2011
From Paul Strang (Languedoc-Roussillon: The Wines and Winemakers): “The Minervois vineyard may be imagined as an amphitheatre on a vast scale: the Canal [du Midi] as the stage, Carcassonne and Narbonne the wings, while the auditorium rises in terraces to the north....Here, conversation does not start with the question 'Lovely weather, is't it?' but rather: 'Which way is the wind blowing?' Le Marin is humid and usually brings rain; from the northwest Le Cers is cooler and drier.”
Chateau Massiac is located in the village of Azille, just south of the Minervois La Livinière appellation (considered the premier sub-appellation in the district) at the southernmost end of the Massif Centrale, where the soil (limestone and clay with silex and marble) provide the excellent drainage that encourages concentration of aromas and flavors. The property's climate is also influenced by the two winds mentioned in Strang's description. The Boudouresques family recently revived the domaine (the Chateau was long ago demolished) and it is now certified organic. They have 53 acres of vineyards, of which 21 are planted mostly to syrah and carignan. Last year, they produced a little more than 4,500 cases. Sentinelle de Massiac is a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Carignan. For now, at least the Minervois appellation allows a maximum of 40% Carignan in the blend. As growers like the Boudouresques and others (Sylvain Fadat comes to mind) elevate the quality of Carignan, it will be interesting to see whether this restriction will be revisited and perhaps relaxed.
Chateau Massiac “Sentinelle de Massiac” AOC Minervois 2011: We have an old gray cat named Miles (because he's Kind Of Blue). One of life's small pleasures is to bury your nose in the loose fur on the back of his neck. I think he smells great: sort of musky, with just a bit of lanolin. Holding a glass of Sentinelle de Massiac up to my nose for the first time, all I could think of was Miles.
There's more, to be sure: Notes of blackberry and blackcurrant, eucalyptus, and the barest hint of bittersweet chocolate. In the mouth, there is sweet red fruit, anise, and just a touch of tannin at the finish. The mouthfeel is soft and relatively light. Served with grilled chopped pork, radicchio, and carrots and new potatoes sauteed in oil with ginger over a piece of home-made naan, it was very pleasant indeed. At 14%, the alcohol level has some heft to it, but there is nothing remotely “hot” about the wine. Imported by Neal Rosenthal. Available at TableWine Asheville, $11.99.
Miles, aka La Torpille Grise d'Amour (The Gray Torpedo of Love):