|"Sally shovelling grape|
skins out of a vat."
Tasted on the 'Sud de France' stand at the London Wine Trade Fair:
2007 Vent d'Est (60% Syrah, 30% Cabernet, 10% Grenache) - complex herbal Syrah edges with very attractive dark vs crunchy fruit profile, lush and concentrated with 'tar' and liquorice notes vs underlying lively cassis, tight firm and powerful finish. Classy stuff. 2-3 £15 Seabright & Seabright, London.
And this is what I said and tried three and a half years ago:
Claude Carayol and his team work 21 handsome hectares of vines planted on this elevated - up to 300 metres / 950 feet altitude in parts - sprawling estate (the remaining 100 or so ha are scented scrubland and forest), out of which they coax a handful of exciting red wines. The most representative are perhaps the following three rich solid blends: Vent d’Ouest, or West Wind made mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Vent d’Est - East Wind with Syrah predominating - and the dense age-worthy La Dérive; which are up there among the Cabardès appellation’s best wines (as long as you like chunky tannins) and reflect its philosophy in terms of varieties chosen and the sites each one performs best in.
Finding the domaine can be tricky: access is through an old gated wall on the left off the D118 road heading north from Carcassonne towards Mazamet, just after the village of Villegailhenc (bit of a mouthful that one), where vineyards and landscape begin to get sparser and wilder before merging into the ominous Montagne Noire (Black Mountain obviously). See website below for more details on going there, but basically they're open for tasting from 11am-12pm (except in winter) and 5-7pm every day (earlier in the summer) including Saturdays: ring first anyway. Claude sells his wines mostly to wine merchants and restaurants in France, so is probably as yet undiscovered in English speaking wine circles... (see update above, he now has a UK importer at least).
2005 Vent d'Est (mostly Syrah 13.5%) - attractively floral, rustic tinged black cherry nose; moves on to tight, firm and fresh mouth-feel layered with dark chocolate and cherry fruit; needs a little time to open up. 89+
2003 Vent d'Ouest (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) - nice herbal cassis and mint aromas with peppery undertones; dense palate, grippy v lush, 'sweet' v bitter twist; still pretty chunky and concentrated. 90+
2003 La Dérive (Cabernets, Syrah, Grenache) - smoky and liquoricey, again dense and extracted but it works, rich fruit v very firm tannins then savoury tang on the finish; wow, still youthful really. 92+