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02 December 2009

Languedoc: Domaine de Mouscaillo, Limoux

The lost wee village of Roquetaillade really does feel like it's at the end of the road/world, perched up in the handsome hills south of Limoux at the southern end of the appellation area. There are a few good producers based around here including Marie-Claire and Pierre Fort at Domaine Mouscaillo (some of their vines border Domaine de l'Aigle, for example, now owned by the Gérard Bertrand group), whose 4.5 ha/13 acres of vineyards climb up gentle slopes to 400m/1300 feet in altitude. Mainly two varieties and two exposures: the Chardonnay faces north and the Pinot Noir south, more or less (the surging terrain here isn't as black-and-white chiselled out as that). There's "a tiny bit of Chenin and Mauzac too," as Pierre explained on my visit in December 2009.
The Forts returned to the south after many years at the helm of rather well-known Château de Tracy in Pouilly-Fumé (central vineyards, inner Loire valley). Pierre is also quietly optimistic about the future for Pinot planted in prime sites, although it's taken time to find its feet and they only have less than one hectare at the moment! I tend to agree, as you'll see from my notes below and comments made elsewhere on Languedoc producers experimenting with Pinot. Expanding briefly on winemaking techniques used for the Chardy, he told me they "ferment in demi-muids (450 litre barrels of varying ages) with lees-stirring, then leave it until after the following harvest." As for vintage 2009, "we picked from 1 to 12 September. It was hot from June onwards and we had to pick quickly, so acidity is lower than usual but it's not too alcoholic either." I tried a few promising 2009s from cask and all vintages back to 2004, their first actually, in descending order:

09 "younger vines" Chardy - lovely grapefruit and spicy floral notes; turning bready and creamy vs juicy and dry, just a touch of fresh acidity on the finish.
09 "older vines" Chardy - touch toastier and more structured, more powerful too yet with mineral bite, juicy citrus fruit and nice length.
09 "old vines" Chardy (malolactic fermentation done) - richer with more prominent yeast-lees notes vs again attractive juicy citrus zest, then more buttery on the finish vs finer acidity.
09 "old vines" Chardy (no malo-lactic) - much crunchier and fresher with pure lemony fruit, nice bite and length.
These lots of Chardy all end up in the final blend, in differing proportions, as Mouscaillo only does one label.
2009 Pinot Noir (older cask) - attractive perfumed cherry and spicy notes, expressive Pinot style; touch more savoury on the palate with freshness and light grip.
09 Pinot Noir (new barrique) - more structured and firmer tannins, spicier but still has plenty of Pinot character and depth too.
2008 Pinot Noir (from vat) - delicate and quite intricate again showing those perfumed floral cherry tones, subtle creamy depth and "sweet/savoury" flavours; lively and fairly firm finish with nice length. Give it a bit of time in bottle and we'll see. 87(+)
2007 Pinot - richer darker red fruits on the nose; firmer mouthfeel closing up to a pretty structured finish vs elegant perfumed fruit underneath. Needs 2-3 years to open up although again hints at some quality PN touches. 86-88
2008 white Limoux (about to be bottled) - quite honeyed and peachy vs spicy toasted edges; fairly powerful mouthfeel vs refreshing acidity adding mineral bite, then toastier fatter finish. 88+
2007 white - richer and more open with background toast notes, pineapple, peach and citrus too; quite creamy and oily, still a bit toasty on the palate, but it's concentrated and turning nutty too with nice weight on the finish vs fairly crisp acidity actually. 89-91
2006 white - maturing yeasty creamy notes vs background spice; oily and rounded mouthfeel vs attractive refreshing twist, less concentrated with grainier texture although drinking quite well now. 87+
2005 white - delicious buttery Burgundian nose, complex with hazelnut and oaty/leesy development; powerful and full yet tighter than the 06 in the end vs exotic, oily and nutty; good balance with a touch of class even if it's quite toasty/woody still, as there's lots going on plus that attractive maturing and rich vs vibrant finish. 90+
2004 white - oddly the nose is less open at first and toastier perhaps; quite fat and creamy vs a tad more awkward wood on the palate, although does show some depth vs fresh mineral finish. 87

UPDATES: latest vintages etc. here (Limoux report, April 2011).
2014: some news and latest vintages to follow soon...

6 rue du Frêne, 11300 Roquetaillade. Tel: 04 68 31 38 25 / 06 78 93 37 61, mouscaillo.com.

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