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01 February 2009

Languedoc: Domaine La Sauvageonne, Terrasses du Larzac

The city of Montpellier, or any city or town even, certainly feels very distant from aptly named La Sauvageonne, with its spectacularly rugged hilly vista perched up on the lower edges of the Massif Central range. This face-lifted 32-ha domaine (80 acres), which was bought by businessman Fred Brown in 2001 (and sold in 2011: see update below), is found about 50km northwest of Montpellier in fact; on the Terrasses du Larzac high ground just beyond the little village of St-Jean-de-Blaquière. A sommelier in a past life, English estate manager and winemaker Gavin Crisfield (no longer: see update below) nurtures premium Syrah, Carignan and Grenache from different vineyard parcels (at 150m - 400m altitude = 500-1300 feet), much of it covered in chunks of brownish red schist and rough stones (see pic) making the terroir here all the more tangible and challenging. Hence the names of each wine on the label, such as Pica Broca and Puech de Glen - the latter, curiously Occitan/Scots sounding cuvée made mostly from their best and highest-lying Syrah.

Tasted in situ February 2009:
2007 Sauvignon blanc Vin de Pays du Montbaudille (with a hint of Muscat and, from the 2008 vintage, will have Vermentino and Viognier too) - still quite fresh and zesty actually, nice lively mineral side with light citrus fruit. 80+
2008 rosé (Cinsault, 
Grenache) - lively and refreshing style, attractive raspberry and cream flavours, very drinkable on its own but would be good with most food too. 85+
2007 Les Ruffes (
Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Cinsault) - smoky v lightly herby with liquorice and leather edges; lovely fruit and 'sweet & savoury' profile with subtle bitter twist and grip in the mouth, nice depth and richness v drinkable refreshing style. €6 87-89
2007 Pica Broca (
Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - more black cherry and chocolate aromas / flavours; firmer structure as well although again has that attractive balance of lush v tight mouth-feel, long finish too; needs 6+ months in bottle but it's still nice now! 88-90
2005 Pica Broca (
Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - delicious smoky maturing nose; has more depth and concentration than the 07, chunky with nice coating of tannins layered with 'sweet & savoury' complexity and lovely length. 90-92
2005 Merlot/Cabernet Vin de pays - cassis and tobacco on the nose; pretty rich v very firm and powerful palate, its 14.5% adds a bit of oomph but it's also very concentrated with dry savoury finish. Wow. 90
2005 Puech de Glen (mostly Syrah) - enticing grilled wild black fruit nose with herbal v meaty edges (echoes of maturing Cote Rotie!); concentration and big tannins on the palate, stylish too with nicely developing fruit yet still plenty of life in it. €16 92-94

Previous vintages here (Vinisud 2006).

Latest news: Gavin left and is now doing his own thing called La Traversée; and the estate was recently sold to the Gérard Bertrand group (late 2011): there's a review of one wine in this report.

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