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the wines of Skalli

by Tom Cannavan, 12/10

robert skalli Skalli is a big producer of wines in the south of France, with a portfolio of brands that spans the Languedoc, Rhône, Provence and the island of Corsica. A family firm, Skalli was founded in 1920 in Algeria, when Robert-Elie Skalli planted grape varieties from the south of France.

In the 1960s and 70s the family begain to build up vineyard holdings in France, starting in Corsica in 1961. Today, the company is overseen by third generation Robert Skalli (right) is a big player, with volume brands such as Fortant de France and Couleurs de Sud as well as several smaller, more upmarket estates.

the wines

Caves Saint-Pierre, Côtes-du-Rhône Vielles Vigness 2009, France
The vineyards for this wine (a typical Rhône blend) average around 40 years of age. It has a vinous nose of black berries and vine fruits, with a touch of watercolour paintbox and a glimpse of pepper. On the palate it has a sweet density of red fruits, quite an earthy background, and a reasonably long finish where tannins and acidity give a bit of savoury grip. Stylish stuff at the price. 86/100, £6.12, Sainsbury's

Caves Saint-Pierre, Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2009, France
A typical blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre, this has a bold, bright, cherry and red fruit nose with a touch of vanilla beneath. Modern and glossy in style, the mid-palate has lots of dense, ripe and sweet fruit, but there's a grippy edge of tannic structure and a slightly roasted quality adding a bitter note in the finish. 85/100. £8.98, Asda, Tesco

Clos Poggiale, Vin de Corse 2007, France
This Syrah and Niellucio blend (Niellucio is a typical Corsican variety closely related to Sangiovese) spends 11 months in French oak. The nose is very attractive, with a cassis and kirsch-like black cherry fragrance, edged with woodsmoke and liquorice. On the palate the wine is savoury, with an earthiness and roughening edge to the tannins, though charry, espresso oak fills in. There's a dry, bittersweet chocolaty density to the finish of this slightly rustic, but full bodied and expressive wine. 89/100. £12.50 - £15.50, Jeroboams, Planet of the Grapes, Wine Story. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Domaine de Silène, Coteaux de Languedoc Grand Cuvée 2004, France
A wine dominated by Syrah with the addition of 20% Grenache, coming from vineyards around Montpellier. It is aged for 20 months in new French oak barrels and has a wonderfully aromatic nose where the herbs, spices and floral notes of the garrigue intermingle with ripe blackcurrant fruit and a hint of mocha. On the palate there is plenty of that coffee-scented, fragrant oak and black fruit character and this is a big, fruit-packed wine with great density through the mid-palate. The tannins are refined but grippy and powerful, and the spice and lift of cherry acidity in the finish just does enough to cut through this wine's chocolaty richness and weight. Modern, plush and impressive. 92/100. £19.95, Jeroboams. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com