Terre Inconnue Sylvie 2012 Vin de France

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Terre Inconnue Sylvie 2012 Vin de France
Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 50% Syrah and 50% Sérine
Alcohol (a.b.v)
Food Roasted or grilled red meats, game, hard cheeses
Next day 
Still really good
Drink Over the next 10-15 years
Sérine is (depending on where you look or who you read) either a particular clone of Syrah or - more likely - the original Syrah, from which other clones were developed. Either way, it seems that many of the Northern Rhône's greatest red wines are based on the Sérine variety and, having become almost extinct in the second half of the 20th century, it's cuttings are now highly-prized by the best growers. And whilst it may still be a relatively rarity in the Rhône, it is even more so in Languedoc, especially old vines like those of Terre Inconnue. Yields for this wine are miniscule, at an average of just 10 hl/ha, and it shows. The colour is a semi-opaque black cherry clour. The nose, whilst initially quite muted, opens-out quickly, to reveal complex aromas of blueberry and bramble, freshly-baked bread, meat/leather and fine eau de vie. It's wonderfully spicy and herby, too, with notes of allspice, fennel and cardamom. The palate is tightly-knit, with a cloak of firm but fine tannins wrapped around a core of ripe bramble, blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with a touch of pepper and spice and a bite of cherry kernel acidity. The finish is long, spicy and tangy, with a cool mintiness at the very end. Don't expect a Northern Rhône-alike with this wine - it is very much a warm climate Syrah/Sérine, with a medium-rich texture, black fruits rather than red, big tannins and a distinctly herby (rather than mineral) quality. At the time of writing (May 2016) it has only just been bottled, so is very much in its primary phase of evolution - a real "velvet fist in an iron glove", if you see what I mean! But there is no doubting that this is a wine of immense structure, which will soften over the next year or two and evolve slowly towards it peak in around 10 years. One for the connoisseur. Biodynamic.