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20 April 2010

Roussillon: Domaine Laguerre, Saint-Martin de Fenouillet

Updated December 2012

Eric Laguerre (pic. right doing his Vincent Cassel impersonation, for those of you who follow French cinema...) and wife Corine make organic wines with altitude... Naff joke aside, St-Martin is indeed a fairly elevated spot - much of their 50 ha (125 acres) of beautiful windswept vineyards lie at 500 metres (1640 feet) above sea level - and hotbed of planting activity (e.g. Gauby/Soula, who Eric has worked in partnership with among others) due to its potential as the place to grow and make 'cooler climate' wine styles in this otherwise rather warm area (in the summer at least, in winter it's one of the coldest around here). Picking doesn't usually begin until end of September up here carrying on to mid October.
Eric took up the reins here in 1999 resolving to go back to basics and grow / make wine as naturally as possible from the start. They restored or replanted most of the vine-land and bottled their first vintage in 2001. All manual work and treatments done in/on vines and soil follow organic and biodynamic principles and time-frames; and certain homemade natural preparations are concocted on site with 'chemical' usage limited to sulphur based products against mildew primarily. Eric's white wines do show what can be done in the hot dry south by heading for the rocky hills, and he also planted some Cabernet up here, which has perhaps taken some time to adapt, or be adapted too, but could well be promising in the long term.
Wine writer and biodynamic specialist and author Monty Waldin also spent a lot of time around here a few years ago tending vines and making a wine movie, so he must have thought these wine-lands have something special about them. More info on that under Chateau Monty, where you'll find a mini-profile and comments on his 2008 vintage wines...

These Laguerre wines were sampled at the Fenouillèdes wine show in April 2007:
2005 Le 20 Côtes du Roussillon blanc (Macabeu Marsanne Roussanne Rolle) – lightly honeyed, fresh and floral with subtle milky undertones; nice fruit on its more mineral finish. 87
2005 Le 20 Côtes du Roussillon rouge (50% Syrah + Grenache Carignan) – peppery and rustic with black cherry tones, attractive lively fruit then light grip and quite fine length. 87-89
2004 Le Ciste rouge vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon Grenache Carignan) – a touch reduced on the nose, moves on to lively blackcurrant styling with quite firm dry tannins, understated weight and finish. 87-89
2005 Le Ciste blanc vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (Marsanne Roussanne Macabeu Grenache Blanc Rolle) – quite exotic with peach and apricot aromas, creamy with very light toasty edges, weighty finish v freshness too. 89

2009 update: I caught up with Eric and tasted his latest vintages at Millésime Bio wine show (Jan 09, Montpellier):
2007 Côtes du Roussillon white (Macabeu Marsanne Roussanne 13%) – nice natural crisp apple and mineral characters v a tad of yeast-lees texture and style; weight v fresh finish. 85+
2006 Le Ciste white, Vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (Macabeu Marsanne Roussanne Vermentino) – still very fresh, appley and real-cidery; 'stoney' steely notes and mouth-feel v a touch of weight, roundness and 'sweetness'. 87+
2007 Eclipse red, Vin de pays Côtes Catalanes - a bit reduced on the nose to start, moving on to smoky thick spicy fruit with 'earthy' edges; has similar balance of power and elegance, nice style. 87
2007 Côtes du Roussillon "20" red - again ever-so lightly reductive on the nose but not unattractively so; shows concentrated spicy Syrah black cherry fruit, attractive bit of grip and fresh v lush fruity finish. 87+
2005 Le Ciste red, Vin de pays Côtes Catalanes - wilder richer fruit, nice and smoky / peppery; powerful tannins layered with 'sweet' v herbal fruit, plenty of life in it yet. 90+

2010 update: Eric was showing his wines at the enigmatically named "Salon du X" - it's not that much of a mystery, actually, a tasting organised by their agent Xavier Peyrot des Gachons with a dozen Languedoc & Roussillon winegrowers present (there were originally 10 in his 'gang', I think) hence the X - in April at Domaine Gayda's impressive winery & restaurant complex, found between Limoux and Castelnaudary. Latest vintages are:
2009 Le 20 blanc - mineral and zesty vs creamy banana notes; quite intense and steely with long juicy finish and nice lingering appley nutty flavours. 87
2007 Le Ciste blanc - more honeyed with lightly spicy and cedar notes, appley and nutty with toasty edges; again steely mineral mouth-feel and maturing vs lively finish. 89
2008 Le 20 red (Syrah, Grenache) - juicy cherry aromas and hints of cider too; spicy crunchy fruit with dry vs lively finish, nice in the end. 85
2007 Le Ciste red (Syrah, Grenache) - similar but more intense, blueberry and herby tones vs fuller and spicier; again shows wilder edges vs elegant and brisk, firms up a bit on the finish. 87+
2006 Altitude (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon planted at 500m/1650 ft) - cedary and leafy nose, moving on to richer savoury cassis flavours; attractive "sweet" vs meaty profile with leather edges, firm and powerful on its good finish. 87+


*2012 update from Millésime Bio wine fair, Montpellier, where Eric had his usual stand and good-humoured nature as he poured and chatted.

2010 Eos white (Grenache blanc, Marsanne) - quite intense, appley and nutty with crisp mineral underbelly, attractive concentrated vs refreshing finish. Very nice white wine.
2010 Eos red (mostly Grenache + Syrah) - perfumed and spicy nose, enticing crunchy berry fruit vs rounded weightier side; again nice wine.
2009 Le Ciste red (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) - rich and spicy with attractive 'sweet/savoury' profile, ripe dark and meaty vs crunchy fruit mix, punchy and grippy finish. Very good.
2008 Altitude (Cabernet Sauvignon) - pretty oaky when I tried it with chocolate texture / flavours, it's concentrated though with firm solid finish. Would like to try it again sometime.

Le Village, 66220 Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. Tel: 04 68 59 26 92, mobile: 06 15 35 78 92 - New website www.domainelaguerre.com

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