We bring news of two wines that proved hugely popular in last year's Decanter World Wine Awards, both Best in Show or Platinum-award winners at DWWA19.
Both were red, both were from Languedoc, both were among the very best wines we tasted from what was already a supreme and very heady list. The Best in Show was the Larmanela (rouge) 2016 from Bergerie du Capucin (BdC) in Languedoc’s Pic St Loup AOC. The Platinum was Château Grézan's Schistes Dorés Faugères 2017.
More detail and the fuller story of those wines appears here (click link).
We now have more of these wines (albeit the new vintage of the Larmanela ... and before that seems like a disappointment, do take a good look/read below).
Larmanela (rouge) - Bergerie du Capucin
I personally regard the Larmanela as the best wine I tasted at/from DWWA19 (the La Fillaboa 1898 Albarino ran it close, mind).
It was sublime.
But it came with a problem.
That problem was one of timing. And the scarcity that followed. The DWWA panel tested it only towards the end of the vintage’s run, after it had already won plenty of awards (and seen its demand rocket) elsewhere, mainly in France. By the time we/the UK knew of it, there were only a few dozen cases left at source. And we took those. It's all gone now; there is no more.
It’s now a year later. And we're looking at the same problem again. And trying to dodge it, this time.
The DWWA judging will not happen until September at the earliest, if at all. The new (2017) vintage of the Larmanela has been on release for a while and has won top awards where they have been held. Obviously, none of us can know yet what it may do at DWWA20, if, indeed DWWA20 comes to pass.
What I am quite sure of - from talking with the producer - is that it will be all gone at source by the time DWWA20 happens.
So, we’re offering the Larmanela 2017 to you now. The price is again be £24.95 a bottle.
There are only 300 bottles available to the UK (all ours).
Admittedly, we at Exel haven't tried the Larmanela 2017 yet. That'll change inside 10 days. But below is a commentary I eventually managed to extract (and translate) from the ever-busy-in-the-vineyard Guilhem (Viau) - that's him above - owner and winemaker at BdC. It’s his view on the 2017 Larmanela:
“2017 was an extremely dry vintage, with a very small harvest. The grapes were therefore very concentrated, and it was necessary to work the wines in the cellar with great delicacy and finesse, so as not to extract too much tannins with delicate maturity.
The result is up to my expectations. Our wonderful Syrah, planted over 35 years ago, on this clay-limestone hillside, facing the rising sun, still has a very low production, but is of excellent quality.
After a patient ageing of almost 2 years (this vintage was bottled in June 2019), Larmanela rouge 2017 is fully worthy of the previous vintages. Its dark colour, its nose of light tobacco, blackberry cream, violet, its unrolling in the mouth, its finesse, its fine and velvety tannins, its balanced and harmonious finish … all these make it, for me, one of my best vintages. It’s difficult to compare with 2016, but after having tasted these two vintages together again, I dare to say that 2017 is more complex, and more regular on the palate than 2016. It’s undoubtedly a great vintage to taste now or to commit to the cellar for several years … each according to his choice…”
Additionally, we’re offering:
• the white (2018) Larmanela – a 100% Chardonnay at £24.95: this is a rare and special - one might even use the adjective 'boutique' - wine, every bit as much as the red, in very small production indeed; and
• the red Dame Jeanne (2018) at £16.00 - BdC's next red 'down' - a delicious, unoaked SGM (Syrah-Grenache-Mourvedre, majority Syrah) designed for ready drinking.
Les Schistes Dorés Faugères 2017 - Château Grézan
For some people, this was their favourite of the two. It's certainly a brilliant wine that, for me, was runner-up only to a brilliant winner. It's certainly a more immediate wine that the Larmanela - it's a very 'giving' and rewarding wine.
We thought this was all gone at source. The happy news is that untaken-up allocations elsewhere on the planet mean we can get another couple-of-hundred bottles. It's the 2017, still - the award-winner (but we have a 2018 samples coming, too, allowing us to compare and contrast for the future).
The Grezan Chardonnay - now the 2019 - also proved a hit. At £11.05, it's daftly good value. We should probably be selling this at £15+... most merchants would (and the only other supplier in the UK already is!)!