Do you like rancid game? (or, I think I found a Southern Rhone that I actually like!)

I may have found a “Southern Rhone” that I still like! This is revelatory given that I have divorced myself from this region and Cambie-afication. But this wine is from Languedoc, Appellation Faugeres Controlee.

2008 Domaine Leon Barral Cuvee Valieniere.

A heady, intoxicating scent and mouthfeel of nearly-rancid, grilled game meat. Clearly mourvedre, clearly biodynamic. From farm to mouth, seems like relatively nothing in between. Exceedingly rich, but not in the modern, glossy, liquor-like way, but more essence of pure game with wet fur. Like rare lamb, rare venison, seared at 1000 degrees. Perhaps a day or two old. With sea salt and cracked black pepper. Grilled with some garrigue and rosemary. The texture and layers to this wine are fantastic, with grainy minerality and soft chalky tannins. Beautifully tart red fruits, crisp, crunchy, including some sour red cherries. Wonderful salinity to this wine, caressed by the Mediterranean. Cut with 20% syrah.

I’ve had other Barral cuvees, and they were nice but didn’t wow me, though were carignan and grenache blends. This mourvedre is another dimension of wine. This wine is fantastic.

(94 pts.)

Sent from my iPhone

Wow I just threw-up a little in my mouth…but I liked it?! I guess the whole was much greater than the sum of its parts. Sounds like you may have found a winner. Are you looking for more to fill out your case buy?

Have you not had Rayas?

Yes, and I love it, but I’m just a poor country lawyer from the sticks, not a rich city-slicker! Love the syrah cuvee too.

I’ve never had Rayas on my dime neener

I’ve seen this label before but have never checked it out. There’s a wine retailer in Portland that carries a number of organic/biodynamic wines from Languedoc-Rousillion/Rhone that I’ll be ordering come fall. I think some of these AOCs like this one and others like Saint Chinian will be the next frontier for me - at least outside a couple major wine regions.

Just saw the 2011 of this at K&L. $60 is not cheap and I’m surprised to see a 95 Wine Advocate score too. The 2008 received a 93. 93 WA, 94 Alfert…is this the Twilight Zone? (Just saw the tasting note for the 2008, definitely Schildknecht)

That’s a good note, Robert. IMO, Leon Barral’s wines are at the pinnacle from the Langeudoc-Roussillon. Like most producers who are at the top in their region, Barral is fanatical in his biodynamic approach. I have heard that he crawls around in his vineyard counting the insects, weeds and the like to ascertain the health of his soil. He also use little sulphur, giving the wines a purity along the lines of Lapierre and Foillard Morgon. No doubt, his Faugeres Valiniere is a beauty, if it sees a little time in the bottle as yours did, but his Faugeres and Faugeres Jadis, which are dominated by Carignan (with the Jadis having a fair bit of Syrah), retain a brightness and freshness that few other wines do from the region. I suppose, in that respect, they are to Faugeres what Rayas is to Chateauneuf du Pape. Another producer to try from the region who makes wines in a similar mold is Maxime Magnon.

Disclaimer: I sell Barral and Magnon.

This picture of his vineyard speaks volumes:

Love the photo. What is there about tasting this wine that makes it “clearly biodynamic?” I appreciate BD farming, and appreciate the fact that many of the world’s greatest wines are grown that way, but can’t recall ever seeing that as a tasting descriptor.

The word “rancid” help? [wow.gif]

No SO2 added, all natural yeasts. Rustic plus almost borderline over the edge on the game notes. On the edge of volatility, just barely and beautifully in check.

Hopefully someone that know something about farming or science can add more substance.

BTW, my buddy Ian, the guy I traded my 2005 St Ems for his “good” stuff, is lurking, so I’m trying to get him to join. Come on, Ian, give us the benefit of your wine passion!


Didier Barral, along with Olivier Jullien, Marlene Soria and Jean-Marie Rimbert, is one of my favourite winemakers in the Languedoc. The entry-level Faugeres is fabulous (and a great value) year-in year-out. The Valliniere normally needs some ageing, it can be a wonderful wine. He also makes a relatively small amount of Barral Blanc, comprising Terret Gris and, speaking from memory, some Grenache Blanc: well worth the effort to track down.

Ok Robert, I am here. And now I am questioning why I let you steal that wine from me? (Kidding). The good news is that I still have some, and now that I know how much you like it, and after reading your other posts, how much you really do not like those 100 point 2007 CdP’s, I am thinking another trade may be in order. :wink:

Awesome. You will love it here, and this place will be better for it.

And don’t go looking for my notes on those 2005 St Ems that I traded you! You may come beat me up. LOL. Glad your palate is broader than mine. BTW, don’t admit to anyone here that you like Caymus and own a 3L. [wow.gif]

LOL! No worries dude. I LOVED that 2005 Fleur Caridnale. And most of the stuff I traded to you, I have tried before. Everything else I got from you I have never had, so this gives me a chance to try some new stuff and expand my horizons.

I do not know what you are talking about. We pulled that Caymus 3L bottle from YOUR locker.

Alfert - you don’t like Vieux Donjon or Vieux Telegraphe? those seem to have hardly changed in how they make their wines over the last 3 decades - of course pricing has gotten a shade richer.

Also I’m just polishing off a bottle of the 95 Soutard, a very old school St Emilion. If you like the way Figeac or Canon used to be made in the old days - this is for you it’s all cab franc herbal spices and a walk through the woods. I’ll post on it later in more depth.

I don’t necessarily associate those characteristics with biodynamic. It’s a process with some pseudoreligion thrown in, but I don’t think it results in common denominator wines. Pontet Canet has gone bd and doesn’t have any rancid game character or borderline volatile acidity issues. I’m not sure but I don’t think it’s ultra low sulfur either. There seem to be some biodynamic and natural wine characteristics being discussed here?

I love me some gamey Mourvedre as much as the next guy, but based on the note and the fact that Alfert was clearly raised in an outhouse in the Loire, the wine is suspect.

Look here Dirtbag - oh, before I get banned for insulting behavior, Todd, that’s Kenny’s cycling pseudonym - you need to get back to your dirt roots and long days of cycling in the mountains. Rustic, sauvage, roadkill, country French, wet animal fur, this should be your lexicon.

Arv - VT and Beaucastel, except for 2007, are some CDPs that I still like, and my recollection is, they both have a higher than normal amount of mourvedge. That Soutard sounds great, and yes, old Figeac was my fave St. Em.

+1. I’ve never noticed rancid flavors in DRC burgundies either. Biodynamic is a farming (winegrowing) process, while natural wine is a winemaking (cellar) process.