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13 April 2011

Languedoc: Domaine La Croix Chaptal, Terrasses du Larzac

Charles-Walter Pacaud makes some fairly classic high-ground Med reds up in the blink-and-miss-it old-as-time “village” of Cambous found not far from slightly better known Saint André de Sangonis (about 30km northwest of Montpellier). But he has another somewhat unusual trump up his sleeve in the form of a white wine: the Clairette variety and old ones too. There’s actually a separate appellation for dry whites in this area made from 100% Clairette; Charles told me that, when he bought this 25 hectare (60 acre) property, he was tempted to remove and replace this old-vine Clairette, which locally was mostly used to produce drink-young whites in a light refreshing style that often lacked a bit of character. And people offering advice at that time weren’t very enamoured with it suggesting he pulled it up to replant more red varieties.

Well, he didn’t and good job too. From the four vintages of his Clairette I tried with him at Chez Boris restaurant in Montpellier on 20 March 2011, this neglected variety can turn out something rather inspiring and age-worthy too, if treated right in the vineyard (planted in chalky pebbly soils, restricted yields) and cellar (e.g. judicious lees-ageing). La Croix Chaptal also makes a range of red, white and rosé Coteaux du Languedoc wines, three very different and more selected Terrasses du Larzac reds and a trio of quirky late-picked botrytised whites / a red even… Their wines are distributed in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium and elsewhere in Europe; and "maybe soon" in the Far East. See www.lacroixchaptal.com for importer/retailer contact details.

2003 Cuvée Charles (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache) – still looking good with maturing savoury side, has an elegant touch actually for a hot-vintage 03 with attractive sweet/savoury finish vs a tad of grip and fresh bite keeping it alive. 2
2001 Cuvée Charles (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache) – more savoury and complex nose vs lighter and more mature palate, long and tasty finish though; very good but the 03 could outlast it. 2
2009 Clairette du Languedoc – a touch reductive on the nose, light bitter/aniseed twist in the mouth vs nice nutty Burgundy character, tightens up on the finish. Needs a few months to express itself. 1+
2008 Clairette – reductive/mineral notes again, turning fresher vs quite rich mouth-feel actually with leesy/nutty/creamy side, well balanced and stylish. 1-2
2007 Clairette – developing complex aromas with toasty edges even, quite full vs still zesty underneath, lovely style. 2
2006 Clairette – oxidising cider-y tones yet it’s still interesting, fatter palate but again has that attractive nutty side. (1)

1 comment:

  1. Charles did a very interesting description of the Terrassess du Larzac on Youtube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkUUj-XR1jQ
    I've yet to come across his wine but must seek out the dry Clairette.

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