After a recent tasting of wines from my cellar from Rives-Blanques I was delighted that proprietors Jan and Caryl Panman sent some bottles of more recent vintages of a number of their cuvées for me to taste. I have to admit that these bottles, largely from the 2010 and 2011 vintages, with a little 2009 here and there, tended to show much better than those from my own cellar, which tended to be from the 2006 and 2008 vintages.
The best in that bunch was the Trilogie, the top-end cuvée, a blend of all three eligible Limoux varieties. Here though, the focus was on the single-variety cuvées, Odyssée (Chardonnay), Dédicace (Chenin Blanc) and Occitania (Mauzac). Perhaps I should look to drink these cuvées within a few years of the vintage, and just save the Trilogie (which certainly looked very youthful on my previous tasting) for the cellar?
There was pretty good quality across the board here. I was also taken by the quality of the entry-level 2010 Limoux and the IGP Chardonnay Chenin Blanc blend, both under screwcap, and also the sparkling rosé, which has a soft, fruit-rich, easy-going character. They would all be very popular when poured for non-wine-geeks over Christmas, and I expect they will all offer excellent value-for-money.
Château Rives-Blanques Crémant de Limoux Vintage Rose Brut 2009: Quite a strong and confident colour here, with a dark salmon-pink hue, with peachy-golden tinges at the rim. The nose is open and rich, with plump red fruits with a an obvious biscuity edge. It has the feel of a wine that is ready to please. And there is a fine and widespread bead, the surface of the wine a little sea of bubbles. In keeping with the character on the nose the palate is broad, open and fruit rich, with lots of appealing flavour and a fleshy texture underneath it all. A full mousse, and good acidity. Overall a real delight, accessible and easy to enjoy, with just an attractive note of bitterness in the end to offset that fleshy approachability. Good. 15.5/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Chardonnay Chenin Blanc (IGP Haute Vallée de l’Aude) 2011: Bottled under screwcap. An attractive nose, slightly raw and obvious at first but it soon develops into a more appealing, punchy-fruit character, full of grapefruit and other more subtle citrus fruits, as well as some crunchy, stony, just-ripe pear elements. The palate has all the chutzpah that the nose suggests, with good substance, plenty of confident fruit, a powerful citrus and stone fruit character, showing the bite of pear skin and peach stone at the edge. Nice acidity. Overall, considering the likely price point, a very appealing wine, full of character and life. 14.5/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Limoux 2010: Bottled under screwcap. A very attractive and well defined nose, with bright and expressive fruit, melons and peaches, with minerally, stony, smoky nuances rather than too sweet a character. The palate is full, expressive, and like the nose defined and bright. The texture feels supple, nicely balanced with an underpinning of pithy substance and an appealing, mouth-watering acidity, leading into a firm and grippy finish. A very attractive wine indeed. 15.5/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Limoux Occitania 2011: This is 100% Mauzac. A vibrant, pale straw gold here. Fresh orchard fruits on the nose, lightly polished with the grey sheen of oak. Very stylish, feeling rather harmonious. A full, supple, fleshy and yet also bright and defined character on the palate. There is a good texture to it, with a good weight of fruits, partly from the orchard, partly citrus, but certainly fresh and defined. Plenty of good depth and substance here; a rich and characterful rather than delicate wine. This feeling is reinforced by a pithy bite to it in the end which I like, a bright and crunchy grip, and a long finish. 16.5/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Limoux Odyssée 2011: This is 100% Chardonnay. A pale straw gold. Nose of sweet fruit, intense melons and peaches, a riper warm climate style. Nevertheless, given time in the glass, it shifts from being a vehicle merely for the pure, sweet fruit to a more pithy, challenging and certainly more appealing character. The palate has some fleshy fruit, with a glossy finish to the wine’s tangible, bitter, very appealing grip, There are more orchard fruits here, with a citrus freshness, and a dry pithy character to it, with texture and weight. Good bite to it in the finish. Give it time in the decanter and it works now, but there is surely potential for the cellar here, for a year or two perhaps? 16/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Limoux Odyssée 2010: This is 100% Chardonnay. There is a rich blend of fruit on the nose, prominent orchard fruit aromas, and some tang-sherbetty citrus tones. Very confident, firmly expressed, but bright too. The palate has a confident flesh, with plenty of supple substance. There is plenty of zippy, tangy acidity to it as suggested on the nose, with some good grip as well. There is a little frame of oak here, giving some grip, but other wise it is very subtle. Lots of crunchy, sherbetty acidity on the finish. A very appealing wine, very long too. 16.5/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Limoux Dédicace 2011: This is 100% Chenin Blanc. Pale straw hue. The nose is fruit-rich, expressive, with some tropical tinges to it, especially melon, but also with some citrus tinges, providing a bright and cool frame. There is also a little edge of chalky pith, and a lick of cashew nut, from the oak perhaps? The palate is full, cool, with plenty of style, supple and yet with good weight and character, but it still shows a bright and defined midpalate. There is some grip in he finish here. There is oak here, but it shows through structure more than flavour. Good. 15.5/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Limoux Dédicace 2010: This is 100% Chenin Blanc. A pale lemon gold hue. The nose is very reminiscent of youthful Aussie Semillon at first, with a very firm, defined, slightly honeyed and creamy-curdy lemon fruit character on the nose. It is certainly fresh and bright, but also very firm. On the palate it is full and robust, with lemon and stone, and plenty of grip and substance behind it. An impressively solid and confident mouthful. Vigorous and full of sour and fully expressed fruit. A good effort here. 16/20 (December 2012)
Château Rives-Blanques Limoux Dédicace 2009: This is 100% Chenin Blanc. A pale golden hue here. The aromatics call to mind some classic varietal elements, with notes of straw and light, crystalline, golden fruits, and there is also a nice edge of minerally crunch to it as well. It certainly seems fresh and defined which is welcome in this vintage. This first impression is backed up on the palate, which although showing a lightly creamed, lemon curd element through the middle also has good acidity, this providing some backbone along with some appealing grip as well. It feels really quite energetic and citrus-spritzy in the midpalate, before softening a little towards the end. Overall, a good wine. 16.5/20 (December 2012)