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15 September 2010

Languedoc: Domaine Virgile Joly, Saint-Saturnin

Virgile Joly, with several years grape-growing and winemaking under his belt working at a few leading estates in France and Chile, founded his own winery in 2000. Starting out with just one hectare (2.5 acres) in the Saint-Saturnin area on the edge of the Larzac hills, the estate grew bigger the following year coupled with him fully implementing organic farming methods. It's now nearly 10 ha in size planted with white and red Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault (plus a couple of quirky unexpected varieties for their odd but nice liqueur wine: see below). Virgile's different vine-plots lie around three villages on pebbly slopes at between 100m and 400m above sea level. I met him and his Polish wife Magdalena in mid September 2010 at their harvest party in the winery, when they also test-drove the Vinolodge "prototype" to be launched next year: more on that here .

2008 Saturne white (Grenache blanc) - zesty green fruit with light peppery tones vs fuller juicier mouth-feel; attractive subtle and quite fresh length. Served a bit warm and probably time to move on to the 09, but nice enough style. 85
2009 Le Joly rosé (GrenacheSyrah) - attractive mix of creamy red fruits vs crunchy and crisp texture, a bit of oomph too (14.5%!) but it's not out of balance amazingly. Rosé for food and thought. 85+
2008 Le Joly Languedoc red (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan) - enticing liquorice and white pepper aromas; "sweet" vs dry mouth-feel with a touch of punch, fairly easy going and refreshing too actually, for a red. 85+

2007 Saturne red (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault) - peculiar earthy herbal red pepper notes (unripe? reduced?), powerful palate then slightly bitter finish. Not sure.

2003 Virgile red (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) - mature nose with liquorice and leather, spicy pruney and dried fruit aromas/flavours too; dark and rich mouthful, powerful with dry tannins vs attractive savoury finish. Good stuff for a heatwave 2003. 87-89
2004 Virgile white (Grenache blanc) - surprisingly good still with its old nutty Burgundy charm vs oily Riesling characters! Rounded mouth-feel with lightly toasted and hazelnut notes, quite lush vs a touch of fresh acidity underneath. 87-89
2004 Carthagène Vin de liqueur rosé (ChasselasServantCinsault, Syrah) - odd elderflower wine / old tawny Port combo, pink flowers and perfumed cherries; quite rich caramelised / oxidised with tangy vs punchy palate, sweet floral vs aged notes. Strange but nice! 87
These wines are available in wooden gift-boxes via their website (rather dear though).

Oct. 2011 UPDATE: click here for a note on their 2005 Virgile white.
And his latest vintages are discussed and tasted HERE (posted Dec. 2012)

22 rue du portail, 34725 Saint-Saturnin de Lucian. Tel: 04 67 44 52 21, www.domainevirgilejoly.com.

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