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Monkey wines

by Tom Cannavan, 05/03

These are the labels from a pair of wines produced by Englishman Bertie Eden at his Comte Cathare estate in the south of France, on sale now through Oddbins. Comte Cathare farms organically and biodynamically, and true to those green credentials, Eden is supporting a project called the Rainforest Foundation, aimed at saving the tropical rainforests, and their indigenous animals and peoples from extinction. As part of the Rainforest project, this pair of special, limited release wines is on offer, with 50p from every bottle sold going directly to the charity. As with all the wines in the Comtes Cathare portfolio, the quality of what is in the bottles is top-notch; as worthwhile as the good cause their purchase will support.
 

Comtes Cathare (France) Orangutan 2002
Orangutan is 100% Chardonnay, fermented and aged in French oak, and is from the AOC Limoux, home of Comtes Cathare's best Chardonnays. This is a wine with a terrifically sophisticated nose, that is neither too oaky and sweet-fruited, nor too mineral and lean, but strikes a lovely balanced middle path of nutty, honeysuckle and oatmeal layered over ripe pear and juicy ogen melon fruit. The palate is rich and full, with a heavyweight texture that coats the tongue in complex, waxy, lemon peel and crisp Aisan pear fruit, backed up by a toasty depth and a very concentrated, almost liquorice-tinged fruit quality. The wine sees plenty of lees-stirring to add all that texture and depth, but at its core that mineral acidity cuts through and enlivens the finish. It is decisive and gives this wine masses of savoury, food friendly appeal. Impressive and delicious stuff at a very good price. £8.49 Oddbins

Comtes Cathare (France) Gorilla 2002
This red wine is in very limited supply, so act quickly if you want some. Coming from the recently created "Cru" of the Minervois, Minervois La Livinière, this is a super-concentrated, impressive wine made from 80-year-old Carignan and Grenache vines. It reminds me a little of Domaine du Clos des Fées "super-Côtes du Roussillon" La Petite Sibérie, which sells for a cool £90 a bottle, though this is perhaps an even better wine. Certainly it is less obviouslly oaky, its muscularity and dense, almost opaque concentration coming from the quality of the ancient, low-yielding vines. The nose is filled with thick-set plum, cherry and liquorice aromas, with a glimpse of cream and cedar. On the palate it is medium-bodied, but coats the tongue in a huge, dry, blanket of tannin and bittersweet black fruit. There is spice and a certain mineral quality running through this too, with a long, tantalising finish that doesn't lose focus but stays firm and almost impenetrable. Very serious stuff indeed this, and excellent too. £14.99 Oddbins