Abbotts and Delaunay

Published by Sally on November 24, 2012

Vincent Charleux (l) and Laurent Delaunay

Vincent Charleux (l) and Laurent Delaunay

It’s refreshing to admit a vinous volte face, which is just what happened when I visited recently at Abbotts and Delaunay in the Languedoc-Roussillon.

I’d always shied away from the spicily and heavily new-oaky styles, even at their most fashionable height, of the previous guise of this producer. However, the business was taken over by Laurent Delauney in 2005. His name was appended to the original to create the current branding.

Together with winemaker Vincent Charleux, Delaunay has been quietly been evolving the wines into more elegant, fruitful forms without overt, chewy new oak being the strongest flavour and memory.  What had once been wines aged in 100% oak, with the top wines in 100% new oak, with “high alcohol and a new world style” said Delaunay, were adapted “since 2007 with more fruit, more finesse, more elegance, and not all aged in oak” let alone new oak. New barrels are now bought on a four year rotation.

The constant in this evolution of style has been the winds and clouds, both on the labels and in the southern French landscape. I’d happily argue that the land speaks more strongly in the revitalised expressions of these wines.

Tasting notes, and comments, in situ, October 2012

Abbotts and Delaunay, Zephyr Limoux 2011 £16.99 Averys
Bottled in June 2012, not on the market ‘til May 2013. Rules state is must be pressed direct to barrels for 6 months, fermented and aged. Barrels can be big, little, old or new, the regulations just stipulate ‘barrels’. Unspecified barrels.
The barrels for this wine are one third new, second and third fill, for about eight months
LD: “we adapt our Burgundy know-how, for example we don’t to battonage any more, because we have enough richness and roundness from the sunny, southern location.”
Whilst some mauzac and chenin blanc are also allowed, this one is only chardonnay.
Aromatic white nuts and white flowers, elegant, with quite a rounded, full body and rich, toasted nuts on the palate among pithy citrus and Mediterranean fruits. Good on the length.

Abbotts and Delaunay, Zephyr Limoux 2010, £16.99 Averys
Quite a full body, rounded and smooth with moderate acid perception and appealing satiny texture. Fruits are tropical and ripe, with hints of accompanying fresh white butter and vanilla, making an attractively easy-to-drink wine.

Abbotts and Delaunay, Cotes du Roussillon Réserve 2010, £11.99 Averys
Syrah, carignan, grenache, from vineyards at 250 to 400m asl.  About 30% new oak.
Bright red cherry and strawberry fruit nose with hints of gorse and vanilla. Supple fruit on the palate, with quite a sparky acidity of freshness. Delightfully floral and aromatically-spicy mid-palate, in this refreshing, medium-bodied wine.

Abbotts and Delaunay, Corbières Réserve 2010, £11.99 Averys
Syrah, grenache, mourvedre. About 30% new oak.
Corbière’s a big region; fruit is sourced from three vineyards: 65% from near Narbonne at the Mediterranean sea, 20% close to Fitou, 15% from Boutenac. VC explained “spicy mourvèdre from near the sea, grenache of a hot climate for a lot of body and syrah from Boutenac for complexity”
Perfumed, of raspberries and liquorice confectionery, with a bit herbal garrigue on the nose too. Smooth texture with relatively sumptuous body and ripe, chewy tannins on the back palate. Very good.

Abbotts and Delaunay, Minervois Réserve 2010, £11.99 Averys
Syrah, carignan, grenache. About 30% new oak
Biltong nose, meaty with dark, dry-baked fruits. Smooth texture, nicely integrating oak notes. Fine-grainy tannins still need time. Quite full bodied, and yet retains its freshness, with some attractive elegance. Pretty serious stuff here. Good.

Abbotts and Delaunay, Boreas Faugères 2010, £16.99 Averys
Grenache, mourvèdre and syrah. Fruit is from south and west facing plots at 350m, and from north-facing plots at 150m asl. About 30% new oak.
Cherry and perfumed nose. Refreshing chalky tannin texture on the attack, which is medium bodied and fresh, bright and well balanced. The 14.5% alcohol is there, I feel it a little, in a positive way, it’s absorbed nicely amid lots of other nice winey things going on: a fresh, medium-weighted palate with red-floral aromatics, fine, fine-textured tannins. Good balance, good length. Vg

Abbotts and Delaunay, Alto Stratus Carignan, 2010, Vin de France £16.99 Averys
60% barrels, half new, quarter second fill, quarter third fill; 40% tank. About 30% new oak.
Dark, very dark chocolate, nose, dark cherry notes. Smooth texture, sweet fruit with some attractive, well-proportioned structure, falling somewhere between elegant and powerful, but not body-built either. So, nicely proportioned, sort of stealthily muscley in a velvet glove.  Fresh and sweet red berry fruit, moreish, with an ever-so-slightly intellectual demand. Long finish, Vg.

Abbotts and Delaunay, Cumulo Nimbus Minervois 2010, £16.99 Averys
Syrah, carignan.
Spices on the nose, with some dry-baked red and black berried fruits, as though slightly raisined/shrivelled, adding concentration and liquorice root. This has broad shoulders, muscle and structure. Big wine with warm spices and desiccated red fruits.

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