We tasted: Domaine de Lavail, Old Vines Carignan, M&S, £10
Emma says: “Mission unaccomplished. After promising we would taste a Chilean Carignan in our notes I popped into my local store to find we were out of stock. Pretty embarrassing considering it is a wine I buy for that supermarket. Oops.
Maybe it was fate, because the birthplace of Carignan is France and very quickly I found a full shelf of that very style staring at me. But I’m still sad because Chile has this brilliant new movement called “Vigno” which is a collective of new winemakers specially dedicated to growing interest in their old vine Carignan. Seek out one of these if you do like this style of wine, just look out for the word “Vigno” on the label of a Chilean red. They are vibrant, blue fruited with a heady perfume and densely packed with flavour. A memorable experience.
However our French Carignan is also an old vine expression which is good news. Carignan is a vigorous vine which means it can over produce and deliver a style that is rustic without much concentration in flavour. The old vine versions are far better because the vines produce less fruit with more powerful flavour, creating just the balance required for a delicious wine.
The wine tried was very typical. It had a raisin rum fruit aroma which gave it that southern French expression from the warm climate. The palate has pleasing warm spices of liquorice and cinnamon overlaying baked plums and blueberry fruit. The structure had the rich tannin typical of smaller berries from old vines, but not aggressive given tannins in Carignan are low. The acidity was nicely in balance despite alcohol giving you that gentle mulled wine heat, another typical feature of this grape. It was more on the European flavour spectrum having quite an earth savoury finish. So I think I still prefer the versions I’ve tried in Chile and even Israel. But a nice reminder of a traditional red that is hearty and soothing.”
Andy says: “This will be a fairly short review as I was fairly unimpressed with this wine.
On the nose, all I could get was what I think are referred to as ‘high tones’ – a bit nail polish remover-y or alcohol-y. A good old sniff really did open up the sinuses. Taste wise, I didn’t get any particular flavour or fruit, but I identified that the tannins were fine grained with just the smallest bit of grip. Quite a bit of acid too, I think, and a good old burn on the swallow. Maybe this needs a day to be open, who knows, I’ll find out tonight.”
Carignan comes from the south of France in the Rhone or Languedoc. It is typically used in blending but you can find some in their pure form. So we’ll be looking for an Old Vine Carignan from the south of France. Typically these are labelled with that name on the front label.