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10 March 2010

Languedoc: Château Faîteau, Minervois La Livinière

Château Faîteau

The timeless twisty-alleyed village of La Livinière, lying about half an hour north of Lézignan-Corbières, appears to have as many signposts pointing to wine cellars as street names. No bad thing, given the generally high standards being achieved in this Minervois sub-appellation. I first called in at Jean-Michel Arnaud's place on 9th February 2006 for a chat and tasting (see below). Jean-Michel, whose family are former cooperative growers turned independent in 1998, coaxes quite impressive complex reds out of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan in his compact little winery (two or three visitors at once maximum!). The latest release (end of 2008) 2004 vintage La Livinière is a pretty classic example, showing solid weight / tannins and smoky versus ‘sweet’ fruit (read on for more updates). If you want to go and see him, call in advance as he's often out in the vineyards. He also sometimes puts on summer barbeques in conjunction with other growers and takes part in an annual spring event called, unsurprisingly, ‘Printemps du Minervois’ (see website)By the way, other producers of Minervois La Livinière to look out for include Domaine de la Combe Blanche, Domaine Anger, Domaine la Rouviole, Château Cesseras and Sainte-Eulalie.

2003 Minervois (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre Carignan) - attractive perfumed spicy black cherry with rustic leather notes; plenty of liquorice, black fruits and spice in the mouth with a bit of bite and weight; good for AC Minervois. 85-87
2001 Minervois La Livinière (Syrah, Grenache Carignan) - liquorice and earth, nice black cherry fruit underlined with choc oak; developing complexity, grip v elegant concentration, length and style; closes up a little on the finish although the sample was very cold. 90+ 
2002 Minervois La Livinière - not so revealing on the nose, chunky blackberry fruit lies on top of textured oak; concentrated and meaty, firm tight finish with nice lingering depth of fruit. 90+

Update 2009: I bumped into Jean-Michel at the end of 2008, during Les Grands Chemins "Rencontres en Minervois" festival, and tasted the following:
2004 Minervois La Livinière - fairly complex and smoky, also showing light wild herbs v rich dark fruit; solid palate with underlying chocolate oak v 'sweet & sour', liquorice & tobacco on its good length. £9.95 from 90+

Update 2010: Jean-Michel had his latest vintage with him on the evening of 10th March, when a big group of us ate at Le Marie-Jean restaurant in Sète (that link goes to a mini review), during the marathon week of "en primeur" tastings of 2009 vintage Languedoc wines:
2006 Château Faiteau Minervois La Livinière - quite coconut spicy at the moment but has nice dark fruit and liquorice flavours; punchy palate with pretty grippy tannins although attractive grainy/rounded texture, tight spicy finish. Needs 6 months to open up a bit, promising.

Route des Meulières, 34210 La Livinière. Tel: 04 68 91 48 28 / 06 15 90 89 48,

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