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

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.


Submitted by Sarah Chappell Monday, 20/09/2010

Have you given up on the Northern Rhone yet? For a shot of dirt to the vein I really love Rene Rostaing's wines. His Cote Rotie is dangerously good... I agree about Languedoc/Roussillon. Unfortunately, in general, quite dull.

Submitted by Julian Monday, 20/09/2010

In reply to by Sarah Chappell

To be brutally honest, I don't know the first thing about the Northern Rhone. Not that, as a self-respecting wine snob, complete lack of expertise alone would ever keep me from passing judgement, of course. Having said that, shot of dirt sounds like just the thing. A late addition to our new year's resolutions, perhaps? The time to get through those is starting to get short, although we've done well on some fronts...

Submitted by torsten Wednesday, 22/09/2010

In reply to by Julian

I think we have done reasonably well on the new year's resolutions front. I have German Chardonnay and even Merlot lined up for more international varietals and also a Swabian wine sitting in my wine rack, so that will all come together soon, and we have been quite successful on other fronts, I feel. Wine from Saxony and good Burgundy clearly needs to be tackled though. I suspect Burgundy will be more delightful, whereas Saxony would be cheaper... Let's see what we can still achieve over the final quarter of the year!