Domaine des Anges
On 26 September I went to the Domaine des Anges in the Ventoux for my twice-yearly visit. The new winemaker, Florent Chave is beginning to branch out and inject some of his own personal style into the wines which are now perhaps more true to local tradition than they were when Ciaran Rooney was at the helm.
We tasted eight of the latest wines the day I arrived:
Domaine des Anges white 2012.
This was Ciaran Rooney’s creation – a white wine from the Southern Rhone with proper bite and freshness. This new baby doesn’t look disappointing: there is camomile and saffron on the nose, it is fat but has proper length for all that; good, honey-rich concentration and more important still, good acidity.
Domaine des Anges Viognier 2012.
It has a hay-like aroma on the nose that is not entirely typical of the variety, and is fat and powerful. I think it was a little muted that night, as the final blend had not been made up. A small proportion is housed in oak, the rest in stainless steel.
Domaine des Anges Archange – white – 2012.
This is pure Roussanne. There is a little of that hay aroma here too, but more dried apricots. It has something of the same richness I found in the ordinary Ventoux wine but there is a great liveliness here; an endearing playfulness that carries on and on: a great success.
Domaine des Anges red 2011.
This is the estate’s real bread-and-butter and it should be the sort of everyday wine that you are happy to drink with your dinner night-in, night-out. It was certainly spot-on: the fruit slightly jammy with suggestions of plums and cherries from a predominately Grenache blend. It is a wine of the torrid south and packs quite a punch, leaving an abiding legacy of chocolate and fruitcake on the palate.
Domaine des Anges Archange 2011.
The Archange is mostly Syrah. This is an impressive wine with a smell of the Provencalgarrigue, liquorice, cherries and blackberries. It is clear that it was housed in oak, but I am convinced that this underpinning will soon be covered by the fruit. The tannins are fine and cooling. It needs at least another two years before it should be broached. It finishes with more memories of the south: wild thyme and tobacco.
Domaine des Anges Archange 2010.
There is an ever-so-slight whiff of game here, which is hardly alarming in a Syrah-based wine, as well as raspberries and redcurrants; the fruit is good, but it seems a spot lighter than the 2011. There is some tobacco and quite a lot of alcohol and wood tannins. It leaves you with the impression of power. Perhaps it is not quite the equal of the 2011, but it is still very good.
Domaine des Anges Sérafin 2011.
This is a pure Grenache cuvée. This wine was drawn from tank and only a very small amount is made. Reminiscent of fruit pastilles, it seemed to be going through a difficult stage. I am hoping the middle palate is going to fill out before it is bottled.
Domaine des Anges Cabernet Sauvignon 2011.
This is an oddity created by Malcolm Swann when he founded the estate in the seventies. It seems peculiar to have Cabernet in the Southern Rhone, but people did odd things back then. The important point about it is that is a lovely wine with an attractive cassis-like sweetness on the nose and a pronounced aroma of cigar boxes. There is a lot of that sweet blackcurrant fruit on the palate and quite a bit of alcohol too, but it closes with creaminess and more cigar box: delightful – long may it reign.
For the rest, my three days in the south were punctuated by the usual Franco-Hibernian high-jinks: curry night, Pierre’s Provencal lunch, the annual Irish stew, Bob Huddie’s wine tasting and lunch (2009 Burgundies this time) and a trip to La Calade, the local restaurant in Blauvac; and most important of all – that last glimpse of the sun before the lights go out in London for the winter.