"Buy my book on the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback or eBook) on Amazon UK HERE or Amazon USA HERE. Or order it direct from me (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap/click on the link over the cover photo (below right)." Richard Mark James

30 March 2009

Languedoc: Château de Pennautier/Vignobles Lorgeril, Cabardès/Minervois/St-Chinian/Roussillon...

Château de Pennautier - Vignobles Lorgeril

The Lorgeril family wine empire, based at this marvellous aristocratic 17th-Century Ch
âteau in Cabardès country northwest of Carcassonne, now not only takes in many appellations and promising estates in the Languedoc, but they've also recently dipped their toe into French Catalan territory by purchasing vineyards in Côtes du Roussillon Villages AOC. They own two other properties in the Carcassonne area, Château La Bastide and Château de Caunettes, all adding up to a significant amount of total Cabardès production; plus another leading one in Minervois-La-Livinière called La Borie Blanche; as well as having interests in or partnerships with domaines in Saint-Chinian, Faugères and Corbières. Which makes them a pretty formidable player in the South. Although overall the company produces quite a lot of wine including a wide range of AOC blends and Vin de Pays varietals - such as a fairly benchmark, chunky barrel-fermented Chardonnay, a handful of good rosés and reds full of character - their top Cabardès wine called L’Esprit, made from Syrah, Cabernet and/or Merlot, develops real complexity after five years ageing and certainly makes a serious quality statement (see below).
Back in Pennautier on the wine tourism front, the mini-empire also has a campsite and gîte complex adjoining the chateau’s grounds and good wine bar/restaurant/wine shop located on the left as you arrive in the village, next to the winery just before the bridge, where you can taste from the whole Lorgeril range. If you want to visit the chateau itself (just over the bridge on the right), and after they've finished all the work, you’ll need to make an appointment (see link below for accommodation options).

The wines below were sampled at Vinisud Montpellier, February 2008, and/or in situ when I visited in April 08.
Sauvignon BlancVin de Pays d'Oc (13%) - oily ripe citrus style finishing with fresh crisp bite. 85
2006 Chardonnay (13%) - again shows nice ripe peachy fruit in a Chile style, quite concentrated actually then crisp with fair length. 85-87

Viognier (13%) - zesty and aromatic with lightly exotic fruit, citrus flavours too v weight and fatness. 85
2005 Marquis de Pennautier blanc, 
Vin de Pays d'Oc (Roussanne Marsanne Bourboulenc Grenache blanc 13%) - waxy mature almost botrytis nose, creamy palate with nutty maturity v citrus too; very attractive food white and still just alive. 87
2006 Marquis de Pennautier
Chardonnay Terroirs d'Altitude - light toast and oatmeal enhanced by exotic and oily flavours/textures, a bit flabby and toasty but it's quite crisp too. 85
2005 Marquis de Pennautier 
Chardonnay - much richer exotic fruit v still tight acidity lending a little freshness; ripe oily oatmeal, chunky maturing 'sweet' fruit and subtle toast then cleaner length. 87-90
2007 Mouline de Ciffre, Languedoc 
rosé - strawberry and raspberry fruit; crisp and dry v rounded, lightly creamy and sturdy even. 85+
2007 L'Orangerie de Pennautier 
rosé (12.5%) - fresh rose petal and crunchy red fruits, zesty & crisp v nice depth of fruit. 87
Château de PennautierCabardès rosé (13%) - similar to above two yet has tighter structure and zingier length v a bit fuller and chunkier. 87+
Château de PennautierCabardès red (13.5%) - bright cassis / black cherry with light red pepper and redcurrant notes; quite grippy v vibrant lightly creamy fruit, dry v 'sweet' texture. 85-87
 Château de PennautierCabardès Collection Privée - attractive smoky development showing savoury leather, liquorice and raisin edges; still pretty firm but concentrated, powerful and balanced in the end thanks to maturing fruit and rounded v dry texture. 89-91
2001 Esprit
 de PennautierCabardès (Syrah Cabernet 13.5%) - smoky herbal & complex, maturing meaty fruit with liquorice, dark cherry and chocolate tones; concentrated and rich v solid tannins, lovely savoury/sweet fruit v power and length. 94
Esprit de PennautierCabardès (Syrah Merlot) - mature v herbal nose, rich fruit v big tannins, attractive ripeness turning savoury with leather and mushroom. 92-94
2006 La Borie Blanche
Minervois (14%) - smoky rustic notes enhanced by delicious wild black fruits and herbal mint tones, ripe yet dry tannins set on a juicy fruit finish; very attractive. The next time I found it more austere and not quite right, must have been a funny bottle. So we'll go with initial score.87-89
2006 Moulin de Ciffre
Saint-Chinian - more extracted and less charming now but it has underlying blackberry fruit v those solid tannins. 87
2003 Les Hauts de l'Enclos des Bories
Minervois-La-Livinière - still quite youthful with peppery black cherry fruit and liquorice v meaty edges; very firm tannins lined with more liquorice, pretty powerful alcohol (welcome to 2003) but it works, just. Wow indeed. 90-92
2003 Les Hauts de la Borie Blanche
Minervois-La-Livinière - subtle oak with menthol and spicy black cherry, very concentrated with extracted tannins but it's well-balanced. Not sure what the difference is to above wine but my notes aren't the same anyway. 92+
Château de Ciffre FaugèresTerroirs d'Altitude (barrel sample) - gorgeous spicy vibrant fruit with subtle depth on the palate, promising although don't leave it in oak for too long! 89-91
Château de CiffreSaint-Chinian (barrel sample) - the property straddles both AOCs by the way. More lifted perfumed Syrah style, chunky mouth-feel with liquorice and spice; yum. 90-92
2007 Mas des Montagnes
Côtes du Roussillon Villages (vat sample) - nice fruit and spicy liquorice Grenache style, grip v ripe and rounded. 85+

2007 Mas des Montagnes Terroirs d'Altitude, Côtes du Roussillon Villages(cask sample) - similar fruit but much more concentrated, firm tannins v vibrant liquorice with savoury leather edges. 89
2006 Domaine des Causses
St-Chinian (13%) - a bit thinner than the others, OK but lacking. 80
2006 La Combe des Oliviers
Corbières (70% Mourvèdre 13%) - attractive resiny ripe nose leads on to a 'sweet' v spicy palate; good depth, style and length & balance of fruit concentration v tannins. Aromatic Bandol-esque liquorice, black olive and tea notes; lush fragrant fruit v grippy tannins v weight. 90-92
2003 Les 
CèdresVin de Pays d'Oc (Syrah Malbec) - nice mix of 'sweet 'n' sour' with very chunky fruit and tannins, rustic v tangy finish showing real depth too. 92+
2005 Pinot Noir, Le Clos de St-Jean - pretty tight and closed with fresh acidity, background wood and elegant fruit; not getting much, needs airing perhaps.

Spring 2009 update: I tasted a few new wines with English (yet another invader in the south of France!) export sales director Tim Smith (who's since left to work for Gérard Bertrand I was told, Ed.), who also took me on a tour around the recently restored Château de Pennautier. For more info on that, read my article from the July 2009 issue of Decanter magazine (go to "western Languedoc travel"). The Lorgeril range is well represented in the UK and US - send them an email for details (click below).
2007 Saint-Chinian 
Terroirs d'Altitude - enticing dark cherry and tobacco notes on the nose; spicy and lush mouthfeel vs grippy and powerful, pretty chunky texture vs nice fruit and length. €8 89
Faugères Terroirs d'Altitude - same blend of grapes and treatment, different vineyards (although adjacent where the two appellations border each other). Spicier and more structured, dense and concentrated with underlying dark ripe fruit. €9.70 89+
2007 Mas des Montagnes 
Côtes du Roussillon Villages - richer "sweeter" spicy liquorice fruit (more Grenache in this wine); attractive rounded palate, juicy and lively vs a touch of grip. €6.10 87
Mas des Montagnes Terroirs d'Altitude Côtes du Roussillon Villages -more closed up on the nose showing a hint of chocolate oak; punchier, firm and tight palate vs good depth of fruit, a bit unrevealing but should develop nicely. €9.25 89+

More Lorgeril / Pennautier here (tasting report May 2011 when I actually stayed at the château château, will be restored...).
And the latest Pennautier Cabardès vintages are now here (June 2012).

Route de Carcassonne, 11610 Pennautier. Tel: 04 68 72 65 29, contact@lorgeril.comwww.vignobles-lorgeril.com.

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