CORNAS alert. Our cheval Mascot Cornas ran 4th in a good race at Sandown Park last week. His trainer, Nick Williams, is also a chartered accountant, like his wife. They train about 15 horses with great amounts of care and attention, no doubt the same way as they look at The Books. Cornas is now due to run at Ascot on Friday 21 November, in the 3.50 pm 2 mile Handicap Hurdle, and has a chance. I will be en route for Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but will be urging him on or flapping my wings in support. Nick Brookes of Vine Trail will be on the spot, and will relay post-race reports. ALLEZ CORNAS!
Note that new Gigondas domaines have been inserted, and 2007 Gigondas tasting notes for those domaines. Also, at Crozes-Hermitage, the new Domaine Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet, and an update on the 2007s from Vincent Paris at Cornas and Yves Gangloff at Condrieu. Please see the Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006 whites, and keep in touch with the STGT and w.o.w. categories - the latter invariably points to good value wines.
the harvest is in, the die is cast for 2008. It is certain that yields are markedly down on the abundant 2007, and I suspect that the better names will rise to the top in a year that will need precise selection. Areas that escaped the abundant September rains, and hail, will fare best. I am told that Languedoc endured less rain than much of the Southern Rhône this year, and that Alsace shows promise on its Rieslings.
I set off to the Rhône 3 times in the next 6 weeks, starting with a close look at Gigondas in the first week. I will cover 2006s, 2007s and some raw cuvées of 2008 Grenache to get an idea of matters. Please note that there are now more Gigondas domaines entered, and that some of those who also produce Beaumes-de-Venise, notably Domaine de Cassan and Château Redortier, are also now logged up.
The end of October also brought the very sad news that Monsieur Henri Brunier, the most amusing and charming proprietor of the Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, died at the end of the month. See Goings-On for a closer appreciation of him. There was also the passing of Henri Estevenin, one of the colourful characters of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a restaurateur, and booming bon viveur whose sons run the Verger des Papes restaurant near the Château.
Gradually the net is spreading to cheaper wine appellations such as Costières de Nîmes, where I have added the good value Château La Tour de Béraud, under the same ownership as the accomplished Château Mourgues du Grès.