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17 April 2008

Languedoc: Domaine Escourrou / La Régalona, Cabardès

Domaine Escourrou

Guy and Arnaud Escourrou work as a father and son, men-of-nature team and are certainly doing their bit to put Cabardès on the serious red wine map. Semi-retired Guy works (and occasionally talks to according to their website) the vines and soil, while Arnaud, international winemaker, concentrates on his 'baby' (part French/part South American: read on), their excellent flagship wine called ‘La Régalona’, which I gather is produced lovingly but also rather ruthlessly, in terms of the fussy selection, pruning, fruit thinning etc. that I'm told is involved. This Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and occasionally Merlot blend shows great depth of fruit, structure and ageing potential. Apparently the wine has created quite a stir in the region and further afield in Bordeaux, where a leading critic praised it very highly (allegedly thinking it was Pomerol!) and Jean-Luc Thunevin is a bit of a fan too. Arnaud has also launched a Régalona project in Chile using the same quality philosophy and varieties. So if you want to taste the wines at their place, an appointment is advisable as he spends several months away from their unassuming home in the sleepy village of Ventenac, although dad is an equally enthusiastic host. I was lucky enough to try several vintages in situ when I visited in April 2008.

Régalona - light hint of coconut oak layered with dark cherry/cassis, lovely depth of fruit showing 'sweet' v bitter twist; powerful with grippy tannins balanced by nice vibrant spicy fruit, needs 2-3 years to round out a little. 90+
2003 Régalona - richer riper and more open with a touch of coconut, again has that lush black
 cherry fruit with wild herbs too filled out with lots of liquorice; solid texture v concentrated fruit, 'sweet' v savoury development, forceful finish but actually well-balanced in its own way. 92+
Régalona - complex and savoury with liquorice maturity and light cedary touches, very grippy and chunky smoothed out by developing sweet and savoury fruit. 89+
2005 Régalona (about to be bottled) - the oak's more obvious but it has lots of juicy berry
 and raisin flavours, chewy tannins and lush concentrated attractive fruit core, finishing quite elegantly actually. 90+
Cabernet Sauvignon (from barrique, destined to part of the blend) - lovely dark cassis with tobacco and light spicy oak, rich texture v grainy tannins, tart cassis fruit v generous mouth-feel. Promising. 92
2006 Syrah / Merlot (ditto) - closed up to start with, moving on to dark cherry and plum pudding with soy sauce tones; very concentrated showing depth, style, well-handled oak
 and nice fine-grained tannins. Should add a pretty special dimension to the blend. 94
2007 (random cask) - a touch of malolactic fermentation notes but this shows lots of chunky black cherry and berry fruit, fine fresh tannins, balance of power v elegance and pure concentration too. Very promising.

Latest on Cabardès here (report June 2012).

6 Avenue de la Viale, 11610 Ventenac-Cabardès. Tel: 04 68 24 92 30 / mobile06 17 40 54 31, arnaud.cabardes@wanadoo.fr or contact@laregalona.frwww.regalona.fr.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.