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Domaine des Lauriers (France) Faugères 1998
The back label of this wine (in French) recommends decanting for at least one hour before drinking. Faugères brings back memories of my summer holiday last year in the area, where many a good bottle was consumed, but this is an altogether more serious wine than many of the region. For me it is an absolute star, and a genuine best buy recommendation. Faugères also produces more lightweight, Beaujolais-style southern reds that are delicious in their own way, but the Domaine des Lauriers is a full, concentrated, spice and bramble-driven beauty. Aging in small new oak barrels has given this wine a wonderfully deep, polished, creamy nose that is not too flashy, allowing dark, glossy blackberry and blackcurrant fruit to shine through. On the palate it is dramatically rich and powerful, with full body and sweet, sweet blackcurrant and plum fruit that is terrifically ripe and generous. Silky tannins bolster the finish, and the wine has impeccable balance. Long and fantastic stuff at a very reasonable price. Will cellar, but gorgeous now.

Selected Safeway £5.99 (01622 712987)