Established by pioneering dad Gilbert more than 40 years ago (there weren't many grape-growers making their own wines at that time), this 12 ha / 30 acre estate is run nowadays by charming couple Frédéric (son of) and Florence Alquier. They make traditional lush smoky reds from Syrah, Mourvèdre and old Carignan & Grenache; and, as I've seen elsewhere in the region, an increasingly good white Faugères fashioned from those star Rhone varieties Roussanne and Marsanne, as demonstrated by the forthcoming 2009 vintage (see notes below). Mind you, there won't be much of it as yields in 09 for whites were "down to 15 hl/ha instead of 40 to 50 usually," Frédéric told me as we tasted in his cellar in November 2009. By the way, I couldn't help noticing one of those newfangled basket presses (wooden slats on the outside with automated plungey screw bit) - not that I get so excited about winery equipment, but these are becoming very de rigueur as they seem to be "much better for reds than the old ones like Vaslin," as Frédéric explained.
So, if you're touring around this pretty area (definitely wild-pretty rather than pretty-pretty), why not go and taste in the Alquier's cosy on-site tasting room, which joins on to the office at the back of their house across the yard from the more visible new cellar. More details of where to find them etc. are on their website: follow the signs heading for Pézènes off to the left on the way out of the village. Alquier's wines are imported into the UK by Richards Walford (a bit of an estate-Languedoc specialist who sell to many well-known London restaurants).
2007 white Faugères (Roussanne, Marsanne) - honeyed and lightly toasted with attractive colourful spicy fruit; peppery and quite powerful palate showing mature creamy notes then mineral finish, drinking now. 83-85
2009 white (Roussanne Marsanne vat sample) - delicious citrus vs exotic fruit, floral and peppery too; juicy and crisp vs subtle roundness and weight, already very nice. 87+
2006 Faugères "tradition" (Syrah Grenache Carignan) - not so open on the nose, develops nice dark cherry fruit with herbal red pepper tones; juicy and lightly smoky with liquorice flavours, softish tannins saying drink me now although it will keep a couple of years longer. 85
2005 Faugères "tradition" - resiny mature fruit with spicy touches, again quite elegant and drinking now, although this has more weight and tannins than the 06, then "sweet" liquorice on the finish. 85-87
2005 Eugènie Faugères (mostly Syrah) - slightly toasty oak and chocolate coating enhanced by spicy black cherry fruit; shows more depth, concentration and structure with layered tannins adding grip and closing it up a little on the finish. 89
2004 Eugènie - more perfumed even with smokier fruit too, softer and more elegant with attractive dry texture vs "sweet/savoury" fruit and grainy edges. 87
Tasted from vat or cask:
2007 "tradition" - nice crunchy berry fruit vs darker liquorice, spicy and juicy with sexy tannins. 87
2008 "tradition" - more floral violet aromas, pure peppery black cherry too; liquorice flavours again, more concentrated and grippier than the 07, promising. 87-89
2006 Eugènie - menthol notes with light coconut/cedar spice; appealing lush mouthfeel with dark fruit vs firm and spicy finish, complex and well-balanced. 89-91
Update - a couple of latest Alquier vintages here:
Languedoc: Faugères focus (Apr 01, 2011)
Clos Timothée, 6 Route de Pézènes-les-Mines, 34600 Faugères. Tel: 04 67 95 15 21, www.gilbert-alquier.fr.