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13 June 2011

Montpellier: Château de Flaugergues & Folia restaurant

Château de Flaugergues was no doubt once set among rolling fields basking in splendid isolation; now, it nestles somewhat incongruously in the Quartier du Millénaire just on the outskirts of the sprawling Montpellier metropolis, next door to the firestation, chain hotels and office buildings. But, as soon as you turn into their palm-tree lined driveway alongside the first plot of vines you see, it feels a bit like “let’s do the time warp again…” Ironically perhaps, this area’s name (= the millennium district) is quite fitting for a noble estate that’s notched up a few hundred years of history. Descendant Etienne de Flaugergues acquired it in 1696 and the family has occupied the place ever since. Current incumbents Brigitte and Henri de Colbert are, I understand, also relatives of Louis XIV's Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, and their son Pierre is now in charge of vineyards and winery. They've restored/maintained the château, rooms and gardens keeping a period feel although they do actually live here too. They do tours around this lovely old property, including a wine tasting of course, for a small fee; and can host private receptions as well: see flaugergues.com for more info.
The de Colberts have also opened an on-site eatery called Folia, serving “market cuisine”, where I tasted most of Flaugergues’ range with Pierre and a group of other scoffing wine journos back in late March (see my notes below). The chef’s certainly making an effort to grab your attention, although personally found they were perhaps trying a little too hard to be kinda trendy fusion blah, e.g. beef stir-fry in a very lemony sauce (refreshing but what wine with that?) or ling (‘julienne’ in French, a fish I’ve never heard of in English but have come across it before in Med France) with sort-of red fruit crumble! And, call me old-fashioned, I quite like seeing and enjoying the texture of vegetables rather than everything in a puree. But certain combinations and dishes were good, especially the desserts. Set daily menu: €16 for two courses, €19.50 for three. The restaurant’s open Monday to Friday lunchtimes and for group bookings only evenings and weekends: phone (+33) (0)4 99 526 635.

Château de Flaugergues ‘Foliae’ 2010, La Méjanelle (Grenache blanc, Rolle, 12.5% alc.) – aromatic pear with quite exotic peach and pineapple flavours vs zesty/chalky texture, attractive, quite light and easy style. 1 €7
Château de Flaugergues ‘Cuvée Sommelière’ white 2010, Languedoc (Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Rolle) – a bit closed up to start, fatter mouth-feel and quite exotic fruit with lees-edged roundness; lacks a touch of acidity, it might open up and blossom. 1 €9
‘Le Vin de l’Oncle Charles’ 2007 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) – “as it says on the label,” from his uncle’s vineyard: a bit overly chocolate oaky, nice enough sweet fruit underneath and a bargain at €3.50.
Château de Flaugergues red 2008 (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) – a tad lean maybe vs some simple berry fruit.
Château de Flaugergues ‘Les Comtes’ red 2008 (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) – quite subtle I guess, again not showing much. €6
Château de Flaugergues ‘Cuvée Sommelière’ red 2007, Grés de Montpellier (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre; 13.5%) – this one was a little closed up on the nose too – most of these wines were screw-capped, from memory, by the way – but it gets richer and spicier with tight tannins, quite classy in the end. 1-2 €9
‘Cuvée Colbert’ 2006, Grés de Montpellier (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache) – oaky although has fairly lush texture with black cherry and liquorice notes, grainy texture and again quite tightly structured vs bit of oomph. 1 €12

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