Have you ever had this frustrating experience? The discovery of a rare jewel, a wonderful wine that gets the saliva flowing and the tastebuds quivering, and you uncharacteristically bought only one bottle. With the last drop drained, thoughts of re-ordering awaken, only to find . . . sold out!
So it seems is the fate with this very fine Minervois cuvee, from advertising mogul Sir John Hegarty’s estate in the Languedoc.
First impressions were really quite pongy – I’m actually quite partial to a bit of “bottle stink”, being the slightly sulphurous, sometimes rather farmyard-like aroma that a bottle gives off just after opening. It generally seems to hail a wine of intent and maturity, which is more than OK by me. But the real prize with this wine was what happened to the nose after about an hour – a spellbindingly sweet and delicate mix of cinnamon and clove, in amongst the smokey, dark fruit.
It’s really nice to find a “premium cuvee” like the 2005 Hegarty Chamans No. 1, where both the alcohol level (13.5%) and oak have been held in check. This is a beautifully balanced effort, with freshness and structure, but no rough edges – 6 years in bottle and it’s still hefty, but drinking perfectly. I loved the leathery, cooked prune flavours, and the considerable length.
Since Naked Wines (from whom I came by this sole bottle) are long since sold out, I am now seriously considering going and banging on the door of “Domaine de Chamans” to see if they have a private stash of the 2005 they’d be willing to part with. Or of course, I could take a chance on the 2004 (still apparently available from Adnams). Stay tuned . . .