Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tour de Belfort

I got to hear of these Tour de Belfort wines from the Cambridge Wine Blogger aka Tom Lewis, who was very enthusiastic in recommending these wines. They are an organic producer and vigneron, based in the regional park of Causses du Quercy in South West France in the winemaking region of Cahors. The wines aren't bottled under AOC Cahors but under IGP du Lot - a lesser, more generic appellation, presumably because they make whites and roses in addition to the red.

Tour de Belfort dont sell their wines through the 'traditional' channels, that is, appointing a UK importer who distributes the wines to merchants / shops / restaurants throughout the UK. They prefer instead to sell directly, via internet / email orders through their website and in wine shows such as the Three Wine Men tasting events throughout the country. The advantage of direct selling is clear - they cut out the middle men (distributors and wine merchants), so theoretically the consumers would get better value for money. Also, getting a distributor to list your product isnt exactly straightforward, especially if (i) you dont make that much wine (ii) nobody knows about your wine. The downside is equally clear - its a lot of work, you have to somehow promote your wines and hope that people will like them enough to part their cash for it. Well, based on Tom Lewis' recommendation, I bought myself a mixed half case and gave the wines a try and these are my thoughts on them.

The 2010 Tour de Belfort White was by far the most interesting. Nice aromatics, stone fruits and citrus on the nose, with a hint of candlewax and leafiness to this. On the palate it was textured, lemony fruit and stone fruit was there, but there was also a nice minerality. This isnt your normal quaffing wine, yes it drinks very easily but theres complexity and length on the mid palate too. To me, its more of a food wine than a drink on your own wine, and should be very versatile. If I were buying for a restaurant, I'd certainly be happy to include this on the wine menu.

The 2010 Tour de Belfort Red was pretty much what I expected - lots of dark fruit showing on the nose, quite hot and jammy, cooked fruit and licorice there. On the palate, the fruit was bright and sweet and in abundance, flavours were clean and with a good balancing acidity; feels rounded and easy drinking. I expected a bit more bite on this wine, but the tannins were lush and ripe.

The 2011 Tour de Belfort Rose showed characteristic red fruit and hints of bubblegum and sweet floral touches on the nose; nice fruit profile on the palate, bright strawberries and currants, cleansing acidity; very refreshing and certainly would make a great picnic wine. Its a well made wine, but I prefer my roses to have a bit more bite to them, but thats a stylistic thing.

The 2009 Tour de Belfort Red, of which they dont have much left, had a funkier nose - sweaty leather, cedar and spice mingling with dark cherries and red plums. On the palate there was bright fruit showing, red cherries and plums, but it felt more tempered, tamed almost; well rounded flavours with greater length. Its lost a bit of the initial fruit hit, but gained more length and I far prefer this to the 2010 red. I think the extra year has been kind to it, and I'd be interested to stick half a case of this in the cellar and see how it develops year on year.

You can find Tom Lewis' review of the wines in his blog: the white, the '10 & '09 reds and the rose. Additionally, he's arranged for a special offer for readers of his blog for these Tour de Belfort wines, the details can be found here. Dont trust our word for it, buy a mixed half case and see for yourself!

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