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mid May 2011

Engine room Southern Rhône entries recently, with the emphasis on some new and exciting domaines. There is much to like about the approach of young growers who are often highly motivated, and I would signal some of these to readers. At Roaix, the most promising Domaine Pique-Basse deserves speacial attention for its Villages wines. At Cairanne, the Clos des Mourres likewise, while under Côtes-du-Rhône, have a look at Domaine Nicolas Croze - not a start-up, but good nonetheless. Under Brézème, see Domaine Helfenbein Charles, a singular journey for this young man who is working the most southerly Northern Côtes-du-Rhône vineyards at Brézème, but also vineyards from the Ardèche across the river.

At Cairanne, prime domaines Oratoire Saint Martin and Domaine Alary have been visited - also see Denis Alary`s interesting comments about his whites under the latter. From Rasteau, Elodie Balme`s wines of finesse have been tasted, which now include a Roaix. At Vinsobres, the 2009s have been tasted from a range of domaines, led by Domaine de Deurre (STGT qualities), Jaume and Chaume-Arnaud. For the full range, use the Search engine under 2009 Vinsobres.

At Signargues, the quite recent Rhône Village in the west bank Gard département, the accomplished maker of fine wines, the Château Haut-Musiel has been entered, while nearby at Saint-Gervais, the regular leader of the pack, Domaine Saint-Anne, has been visited. Under Côtes-du-Rhône, I would also point out the regular quality of the Château La Borie, a wine popular in Britain.

From the Northern Rhône, Yves Cuilleron`s range has been updated, from Condrieu on to the reds and the Vins de Pays as well.

My next assignment is a glamorous voyage to the Maldive Islands in the company of Marcel and Bernadette Guigal, a hommage to Marcel`s Decanter Man of the Year title, with events being organised in his honour. I am carrying the great man`s towels and lobbing in the odd comment, notably on his Mouline, Landonne and Turque wines from 1998 to 2007. After that, Pierre Perrin of Château de Beaucastel is presenting his wines on another island, and that, too, is a very high profile event.