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Building a vocabulary of the palate no. 1157: cistus

Those of you who have been following our little odyssey through the flavours and scents that make wine-tasting such an interesting business (nos 1-1156) will be thrilled to learn that today we're getting topical with something Blooming. I've had me dish of offal and rung David Norris to swap salutations in Latin, so I'm all ready for a literature-free look at one of the aromatic components of many a wine from the Languedoc: cistus, the rock rose or ciste. I thought I'd write about it because you don't see it used all that much as a 'landscaping' plant, which is surprising because it's pretty tough, copes with our ever-drier climate very well, and rewards any bit of sunshine with lots of papery flowers. It flowers a bit earlier in the S of F, as you can see here.

My photo gives some idea of how welcome it is at Mahon Point shopping centre, where it's planted en masse in response to the big lump of a building it surrounds, with success in my view. It rarely gets hot enough to smell it from afar, but if you get close to its sticky buds on a warmish day, you'll find a rich, musty, dusty scent that is a useful landmark if you're navigating a description of Languedoc and Provencal reds especially.

cistus at Mahon Point

The flowering plant is not to be confused with the schist of Mas au Schiste country, and incidentally of Connemara, whence I am just back. Not so many vineyards up in Co. Galway just yet, though.

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