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08 January 2024

Languedoc: Malepère.

The casse-croûte of the cassoulet in Malepère.

Located to the northwest of Limoux and southwest of Carcassonne, Malepère is the most westerly of the Languedoc's appellations and probably one of the least known wine areas in the whole region. There's an eclectic mix of Mediterranean and Atlantic vine types, and the local wine people have cooked up an interesting story around how climatic influences from both 'sides' suit these nevertheless dissimilar grape varieties (seven authorised).
You have to wonder though if the original decision to plant all these different varieties somewhat precedes the subsequent romantic PR, which attempts to give Malepère its point of difference. You can read about this on the official website, as I'm not going to regurgitate it here. While there certainly are some delicious reds made from e.g. Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Grenache (as a blend for AOP red or rosé and Pays d'Oc if varietal or white), I'm not convinced that say Cabernet Sauvignon is very successful in this zone (the reds I liked the least out of quite a few tasted).
Popular white varieties are far from disappointing though, as evidenced by the half-dozen picked below, with some good quality, and value, Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon readily available. And click here to discover a couple of tasty rosés from Malepère.


WHITE

Château Guilhem Vignes du Levant blanc 2022 (13% abv): 85% Sauvignon, 15% Chardonnay. Attractive aromatic and fresh SB-led style, zingy finish. €12-€13 France, Netherlands, Germany. CZK 335. DKK 139.
Le Pas de la Dame Epouse-Moi! 2022 (13% abv): Chardonnay. Aromatic and nutty with mineral freshness, zesty tasty and long. €9.40 France.
Domaine La Louvière Le Libertin Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (12% abv): SB indeed, crisp and lively citrus fruit, quite intense, pretty good. €9.90 France.
Domaine La Louvière La Muse 2022 (13.5% abv): Viognier and Chardonnay (aged in French oak) with Chenin Blanc. Rich ripe and aromatic, exotic fruit flavours lead to a crisper side, again very nice. €13.90 France.
Le Mas de Mon Père Quitte ou Double 2022 (13% abv): Mostly Chasan with Sauvignon Gris and Chardonnay, 50-50 barrel and tank for 6 months, low dose of SO2. Natural leaning style but good with it, nutty and intense finish. Quite dear though: €17-€22 France, Netherlands. US: Terres Blanches Wine.
Domaine Rose et Paul Chardonnay Selection 2020 (13% abv): Stored 3 months on the lees. Delicious, good quality Chardonnay with maturing buttery and nutty flavours and texture. €9-€10.50 France, Germany, Belgium.

RED

Château de Cointes Marie Anne 2019 (14.5% abv): 40%-50% Merlot, 25%-30% Cabernet Franc, 25%-30% Grenache; no oak. Ripe fruit and maturing notes on the nose and palate countered by some firm tannin but well textured too. €11-€12.50 France, Germany, Belgium. £13.50 UK. 4400円 Japan.
Château Guilhem Vignes du Levant rouge 2021: 50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec; 8 months in used casks. Ripe and aromatic fruit leading to more savoury flavours on the palate, very nice red. €13 France, Germany, Belgium. CZK 249. $18 Lebanon.
Château Guilhem Grand Vin rouge 2020: 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc (over 30 years old), aged 12 months in barrels. Hints of cedary oak, firmer structured but the tannins are rounded, fairly concentrated finish. €19-€22 France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands. Denmark. $20-$29 Lebanon.
Le Pas de la Dame Dans Tes Rèves! 2019 (13.5% abv): Merlot, Cabernet Franc. A touch of spice to start, concentrated and powerful with nice savoury flavours vs solid fruit on the finish. Good value. €9.40 France.

Kinky labels by La Louvière...
Domaine La Louvière La Maitresse 2021 (14.5% abv): Merlot 60%, Cabernet Franc 20%, Malbec 20%. Delicious fruit, plummy and spicy with attractive chalky tannins. Good. €11.50 France.
Domaine La Louvière La Séductrice 2021: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec; aged 12 months in barrel. Hints of oak but also has the same lovely fruit to the fore, firmer mouthfeel this time but again nice textured tannins. €14.50 France.
Also: US, UK, Belgium, Germany and elsewhere in 'northern Europe', Switzerland.

Le Mas de Mon Père M Comme Je Suis 2015: Merlot and Cabernets, matured in large old casks, low SO2 addition (as for all their wines). Wild smoky and rustic but pretty intense and lingering. €12-€17 France. £18 UK. US importer for their range: Terres Blanches Wine.
Le Mas de Mon Père M Comme Je Suis 2017: Similar characteristics although fruitier and more concentrated, good red. $21 US.
Le Mas de Mon Père Malepère 2022: Mostly Merlot. Gorgeous crunchy fruit, tight and chalky mouthfeel, should be good. €12 France?
Le Mas de Mon Père Red de Toi! 2022: Merlot. Rich plummy and spicy, delicious. €17-€22 France, Netherlands. CHF 26.
Le Mas de Mon Père Cause Toujours 2022 (12.5% abv): Malbec. Aromatic red fruits on the nose, nice spicy palate, another tasty even if dear red. €17-€21.50 France. CHF 28.

Domaine Girard Pinot Noir Pays d'Oc: I tried this over dinner - a good match for the magnificent cassoulet photoed top and below - and didn't note the vintage. Currently available in different countries are 2021 and 2022, this is one of two tasty Pinots they produce from a 30+ year-old hillside block facing northeast planted at 350 metres altitude. €10-€11 France. £14-£19 UK (good distribution). €19 Ireland. $21-$32 US, Canada.

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