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J. M. Alquier, Réserve "La Maison Jaune", Faugeres, 1998

When it comes to french reds - and as I've said before, you can't be a real wine snob unless you can take a sip and say "ahh, zees, my friends, is terroir..." - I've had the distinct feeling for some time now that France is being rolled up for me from south to north. First to go was the southern Rhone. Done. I can't stand this tepid heaviness any more. Then, the more generic Languedoc blends followed suit. Bo-ring. With a lukewarm Gauby experience recently, I've even become doubtful about the Roussillon. So what about Faugères, one of the more characterful Languedoc appellations? Won't say "last try" yet, but let's just say there's some pressure on Alquier, by common agreement one of the very best names in all of southern France.

Let's judge the wine by everything but the wine first: Everything about it, from its old-style label, its heavy bottle to its flawless cork projects a sense of care and quality - a good sign.
The deep cherry red in the glass doesn't contradict this, nor do the fresh red berries, the hint of tar, even the whiff of a kind of slatey minerality of its smell. The red berry and baked cherry fruit, generously spiced with dried herbs, that you get on the palate are also in perfect order. No complaints, this is indeed a very strong showing, with an intensive mouthfeel, not big and bold, but firmly structured. Seriously firmly. The tannins are effortlessly all over your mouth, but such is their quality that this good old boy of twelve years shows no sign of age whatsoever, even though I found him over eBay and so have no idea what he's been up to.
I'm afraid I will not find true happiness with the dried herbs and baked cherry aromatics of Languedoc reds, but for those who do, this is certainly a bottle to get hold of.

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