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30 January 2010

Languedoc: Clos de l'Anhel, Corbières

Château Pech-Latt (see A to Z) estate manager Philippe Mathias and his partner Sophie Guiraudon, who are based at Pech-Latt, have a small domaine of their own called Clos de l’Anhel ('lamb fold' in Occitan: there is a semi-crumbling farmhouse / sheep shelter alongside the track leading up to their vines, which they might eventually do up into a small cellar). So, their address is the same as Pech-Latt below (they do also have a cellar in a nearby village, but it's not marked and difficult to find). Philippe and Sophie have converted six hectares/15 acres (with three more in the pipeline) over to biodynamic grape growing, man, and are already coming up with remarkable results, as demonstrated by the three tasty reds below all built mostly from old Carignan. They've also planted "a bit of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre;" as you do.
They're using very little in the way of oak barrels, and Sophie said "we might stop using wood all together," a refreshing trend I've spotted elsewhere on mini-estates; partly to let the fruit do the talking, and partly, I'd imagine, because new barrels are expensive. You can taste Clos Anhel's wines while visiting Pech-Latt; and Sophie might also take you up to their 250-300 metre-high (900 feet) vineyards if you arrange it in advance (you’d never find this peaceful spot on your own anyway), where you’ll be greeted by three cheeky donkeys. I don't think they work in the vineyard but are probably a good, three HP manure machine. Other growers worth pencilling in in this area include Domaine Baillat, Château Prieuré Borde-Rouge, Château de Roquenégade and Domaine la Rune.

Tasted October 2008 and again in January 2009:
Les Autres vin de table (because it's 80% Carignan + Grenache, 14%) - the name refers to all those who helped with the harvest, listed on the label. Pure ripe liquorice, cassis and juicy raspberries; more savoury on the palate with tobacco and leather edges, and soft v dry mouth-feel; has a bit of a kick too but also juicy fresh fruit. 87
2007 Les Terrassettes
Corbières (mostly Carignan + Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre, 14%) - shows similar purity of liquorice fruit with dark cherries and wild herbs; richer colour and body, tasty mouthful of spicy tobacco-tinged fruit; powerful with more grip & structure, lively finish too, needs 6-12 months to come together nicely. 89+
2007 Les Dimanches
Corbières (50% 70 year-old Carignan + Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre, 10% of it aged in used casks, 14% alc) - again has that similar hallmark profile but more aromatic and floral with richer black cherry/olive fruit; concentrated and powerful with nice grippy texture v deliciously drinkable fruit quality, quite fine and well-balanced to finish. 90-92

And Clos Anhel 2005 vintages from Vinisud 2006.

Update Jan 2010. Sophie had their lively 2008s ready and waiting to be sampled at Millésime Bio wine fair in Montpellier:
2008 les Autres (mostly Carignan) - very smoky with liquorice and tobacco notes, very Carignan style with lots of dark blueberry too; fairly easy palate with a bit of grip too. 85
2008 le Lolo Corbières - a tad reduced on the nose (these weren't finished bottled samples), turning more intense with perfumed fruit and dark vs crunchy mix; attractive dry grip and bite on the finish. 87+
2008 les Terrassettes - lush, smoky and expressive with blueberry vs meaty notes; chunky yet supple with good depth of cherry/berry fruit, nice length with lingering dried fruits. 89+
2008 les Dimanches - similar profile but richer with lively dark plum, liquorice and tobacco; pretty intense mouthfeel with firm vs rounded tannins, tight long and delicious finish. 91+

Plus 2009 vintage report under Corbieres reds, obviously... 

Lagrasse. Tel: 04 68 43 18 12, anhel@wanadoo.frwww.anhel.fr.

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