2016 Château Maris, Les Planels, Cru La Livinière, Minervois, Languedoc, France
£17.99, 167 branches of Waitrose, waitrosecellar.com
It is often said that the La Livinière sub-region of Minervois is the finest of all. I certainly detect an energy and vibrancy to these wines that sets them apart. Of course, along with the more expressive fruit characters you often find that these wines are more structured, tannic and longer-lived. I live my wine life by the mantra that “balance is born” and so I expect the finest red wines in the world to have well-integrated tannins from the off, and they should be in perfect equilibrium with the fruit, oak, alcohol and minerality. It is a myth that tannins alone fade as a wine ages – every element of the wine ages with these tannins so you rarely find that raucously tannic, young wines ever truly even out.
So let me introduce you to a sensationally well-balanced wine that not only challenges the greats from Minervois, but from the northern Rhône, too, it being made from 90% syrah and 10% grenache. Les Planels is a biodynamically grown, south-facing plot, the grapes are basket-pressed, and after a four-week maceration the must is fermented in wooden vats and then matured in 15% new oak for 12 months. This wine shows spectacular equilibrium in spite of its youth and you can drink it now or forget about it for five years! The epic clay, limestone and sandstone soils underpin an utterly thrilling pepper and blackberry-soaked palate. It is one of my wines of the year.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)