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Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

24 November 2007

Languedoc: Mas Champart, Saint-Chinian

LATEST HERE (St Chinian special Jan. 2014)

Isabelle and Matthieu Champart, who bought their first vineyard here over 30 years ago, craft an unimpeachable range of mostly reds (although I'm not that keen on their white - see below - but it's early days for this kind of style, given that white wines have only really been coming on-stream for a few years) at this secluded 16 ha (planted out of 25), or 40 acre, Saint-Chinian estate. It's located on the rapid climb, at 200m to 300m altitude (650-950 feet), to the south of the town just before the hamlet of Cazo; and is essentially a patchwork of about twenty distinct plots. Their star reds are 'Clos de la Simonette' (mostly south-facing vineyard on steep terraces, although one parcel has a more northerly exposure: the fruit from here is used for rosé, Matthieu told me in 2005) with at least 70% Mourvèdre and Grenache; and Causse du Bousquet, a more classic Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan blend. By the way, their Mourvèdre was originally selected from Domaine Tempier in Bandol and Château de Beaucastel, that slightly well-known CNDP property. They have plans to build a better visitor reception area at some point (the cellar is appealingly small), so you can taste and chat in comfort. For US distribution, try Kermit Lynch in California.

I visited Mas Champart in late Nov. 2007 and opened these two bottles shortly afterwards:
2005 Causse du Bousquet, St-Chinian (50-60%
Syrah plus Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan 14%) - quite fine mix of ripe v earthy black cherry with very light cinnamon oak spice; lush concentrated and full v tight firm framework, restrained finish showing weight and elegance too. £12.50 terroirlanguedoc.co.uk. 89-91
2006 Saint-Chinian blanc (
Marsanne Roussanne Bourboulenc Grenache blanc) – toasty coconut nose with some creamy yeasty notes, full and rounded with submerged aromatic fruit but overall the oak's a bit heavy-handed, finishing too overtly woody. 80+


Plus a few notes on more Champart wines sampled at Vinisud trade fair in 2006:

"Isabelle and Matthieu Champart's lovely reds have long been among my favourite St-Chinian wines, especially their Mourvèdre rich Clos Simonette..."
2004 St-Chinian blanc
(Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache blanc & Bourboulenc) - fresh and exotic fruit then turns zesty and mineral, nice clean elegant finish. 85

2003 Côte d'Arbo St-Chinian (Syrah, Grenache & Carignan) - wild and spicy with attractive pure fruit, quite elegant with ripe soft-ish finish. 87-89
2003 Causse du Bousquet (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache & Carignan) - more liquorice and black cherry, again shows softness v concentration, grip v elegance. 90
2003 Clos de la Simonette (70% Mourvèdre & Syrah) - firmer structure and style, again displays lovely fruit and rounded tannins. 90-92


And previously these reds at a wine fair in Montpellier in 2005:
2002 Clos de la Simonette (70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Displays pretty good balance of firmness and forward fruit, tight elegant finish too. 87-89
2003 Clos de la Simonette (vat sample, 70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Shows promising classic mix of firm yet rounded tannins and lovely ripe sweet fruit within a chunky framework. 89-91
2002 Causse de Bousquet (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan) - Also shows some of the nice concentrated black fruits of the C d'A but this has firmer leaner structure. 85-87
2003 Côte d'Arbo (vat sample Syrah Grenache Carignan) - Offers youthful chunky black cherry fruit, not finished or together but shows promise.

Bramefan, Route de Villespassans, 34360
Saint-Chinian. Tel: 04 67 38 20 09 (cellar), 04 67 38 05 59 (office), mas-champart@wanadoo.fr.

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