Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wine

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wine

Article excerpt

Byline: By Helen Savage

The village of Saint Mont lies in a sleepy corner of the far southwest of France. So sleepy is it that we were the only guests and only diners at its delightful village inn one day in the steaming summer of 2003.

That night it wasn't a question of formal menus ( the chef-cum-owner simply asked, "what do you fancy?" And then pottered off into the kitchen to see what he could find.

Just down the road is the huge, but hugely successful wine co-op of Les Producteurs de Plaimont.

Every lunchtime the inn is crowded with hungry workers and visiting growers. Although the whole appellation of Saint Mont only covers around a thousand hectares, there are very nearly that number of vignerons who sell their grapes to the co-op.

Their wines are not only good (and good value), but they make the most of the distinctive flavours of the local grapes. In the unlikely-sounding El Santo rosA, for example, the blend is dominated by the excellent Tannat, beefed up with a bit of Fer (or Pinenc as the locals call it) and a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2004 is a gorgeously pretty pink and has a deliciously fresh strawberry and vanilla taste and smell. It's dry, but almost crunchily fruity and costs a mere pounds 4.99 at Oddbins.

In response to the growing demand for pink wine, Oddbins has responded with about 20 new lines this season. At the top, decidedly sophisticated end of which you'll find Remy Vincent's Sancerre RosA, 2004 (pounds 10.99) ( like all pink Sancerre made from 100pc Pinot Noir.

From a superb estate that's been in the same family since the 16th Century, this has a lovely scent of almost herb-scented spicy raspberry fruit and is followed by a good mouth-filling flavour of ripe, lingering raspberry fruit, balanced by clean, crisp acidity.

It's not cheap, of course, but a white wine of such elegance and at such a price wouldn't have to justify itself by any special pleading. …

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