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20 November 2009

Languedoc: La Grange d'Aïn, Faugères

La Grange d'Aïn

Cédric Saur's family owns and runs the quite well-known Château Haut-Fabrègues near Cabrerolles, found in the middle of nowhere in deepest Faugères country. La Grange d'Aïn is Cédric's baby, 12 hectares (30 acres) of plum old vineyards planted with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah and farmed organically. He's making some pretty serious reds showing lots of fruit extract, big tannins, power and occasionally oak. Nevertheless, they're very well-made, tasty, full of character and obviously built from true quality fruit and a hand-made approach, rather than just show-stopping competition wines you wouldn't actually want to drink. These three were sampled at the Millésime Bio organic wine show (Perpignan Jan 2008). More info to follow as he's definitely on my Faugères-visiting list (along with another dozen or so...): see below below in fact!
2004 Le Penchant du Cerisier Faugères (mostly Carignan +Grenache, 2 years in barriques) - rich smoky nose, very ripe and dense fruit with tobacco edges; really solid framework although finishing with attractive liquorice and spice flavours to balance. €12 90-92
2006 Le Cèdre Faugères (mostly Grenache + Carignan) - similarly smoky and ripe profile with dense structure, although a tad fruitier v solid tannins and hallmark liquorice & tobacco flavours. €11 88-90
2003 Les Mimosas (old vine Syrah, 4 years in barriques!) - plush oily raisin fruit coated with lots of coconut tannins; the wood is a bit intrusive and overall the wine a bit too extracted, but it's certainly impressive and quirky. 87-89?

 Update: I called in on Cédric on a dull and cold November's day, 2009, and tried the latest vintages. We talked a little about it really means to "go organic", and he said some interesting things apart from the obvious "environmentally friendly" reasons. Briefly paraphrased, the most important shift in thinking for him is "the way it made/makes him look at growing grapes and making wine in a totally new light... once you remove that guaranteed efficiency (from synthetic products)," Cédric mused, "you have to work the vineyard in a very different way." Basically, much more plot by plot watching and analysing how each variety or vine reacts in each location; whether there's a problem and how to deal with it, or whether you should just leave it alone. Food for thought... La Grange d'Aïn wines are now quite big in China, I'm told, as well as certain Paris restaurants.
2007 Le Cèdre Faugères (mostly Grenache + Carignan 14.5%) - dark cherry with a tad of choco oak, turning riper and spicier with meatier edges; lush smoky and peppery, quite concentrated and structured, big mouthful vs "sweet" vs firm yet attractive texture and finish. Underlying lightly volatile complex notes too (he only adds a little SO2 at bottling). 89+
2007 Le Penchant du Cérisier Faugères (80% Carignan +Grenache 14.5%) - less obvious on the nose, although again has meaty / leather tinges; vibrant blueberry and damson fruit, spicy and grippy mouthfeel with lively length, "sweet/savoury" finish with more of it than the above; delicious crunchy vs ripe berry with fine dry bite. 90-92
2003 Les Mimosas (mostly Syrah 14.5%) - spent four years in barrel but it only has a lightly dusty coconut coating vs meaty, leathery and smoked bacon tones; dry texture yet there's lots of ripe dried fruits and real depth of character plus a wilder side; chunky vs maturing finish. 90-92
2007 Le Penchant du Cérisier (3-litre bottle, bottled with no SO2 from "our favourite barrel!") - actually more open and smokier, perhaps the oak is a tad more upfront and grainy; but has attractive chunky powerful vs lush mouthfeel with blackberry fruit, grippy texture and firmer coating on the finish.90+
2003 Le Penchant du Cérisier (their first vintage) - reductive sulphide notes but has complex leather and dried fruit underneath; quite rustic although I like its delicious richness vs concentrated and firm feel, leaving a nice coating on the finish; actually well-balanced for a 2003 (alcohol/acidity/concentration/tannins). 88-90

Fontanilles, Lenthéric near 34480 Cabrerolles. Tel: 06 12 10 31 02, cedricsaur@hotmail.comwww.cookandwine.com.

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