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Showing posts with label Languedoc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Languedoc. Show all posts

28 May 2014

Languedoc: Domaine du Lys, Uzès

facebook.com/lesvignesdulys
One of those eternal "Languedoc or Rhone valley?" winery quizzes that can perhaps be answered simply as "both." Olivier Privat and Eileen and Ray Monahan's 30 hectares of vineyards (75 acres) lie in the Gard region, at the very eastern end of the Languedoc before you fall into the River Rhone, around a big-old-stone village called Blauzac not far from probably better-known Uzès (north of Nimes in any case). They have a medium-length list of varieties planted in blocks selected in 2008 (the vines are much older though), as you can see from the taster below, which are fashioned into single varietals and blends monikered as IGP (the new 'vin de pays') Cévennes (the nearby hills have eyes) and IGP Duché d'Uzès. Undergoing conversion to total organics since 2010. More @ www.les-lys.fr.

2011 Aillargues (75% Chardonnay, 25% Sauvignon blanc) - quite full-bodied and peachy fruited with attractive aromatic and crisper edge.
2010 La Grande Blanc (Chardy, barrel-fermented) - fairly concentrated with light toasted butter notes (or buttered toast if you prefer), rich and oat-y vs steely edges, maturing savoury finish too. Good stuff.
2012 La Petite Syrah (Syrah with some Sauvignon blanc actually) - nice cherry fruity style, easy-going quaffer.
2011 La Grande Rouge ("old-vine" Syrah, fermented/aged in large wooden vats) - minty herby peppery nose with lush dark cherry fruit, nice savoury side too, concentrated yet elegant; good stuff again.
2012 Caillasses (Grenache barrel-aged for a year, 16% abv!) - fair amount of vanilla oak on top vs lots of sweet fruit though, big and chunky finish. Their site offers a classic French food match: "hardly cooked meat."

25 March 2014

Languedoc: La Réserve d'O, Terrasses du Larzac

Marie and Frédéric Chauffray bought a few plots lying at 400 metres above sea level in the wild and airy Terrasses du Larzac (click to find out more) appellation in 2005 - you can read my note on their first vintage red from that full-bodied year HERE (links to "Top Languedoc & Roussillon reds over €10" tasting feature) - when they created La Réserve d'O, using a bit of word play, presumably, for that catchy name. They also starred in 'Les Terroiristes du Languedoc' documentary film (links to post about this) made by American wine-cineaste Ken Payton. The couple also has vines in the Saint-Saturnin area, which is a sort-of subzone of the wider Terrasses du Larzac so-called cru appellation ("Confused? You will be..."), all farmed under the influence of biodynamics from the very beginning, so the story goes; and had a new cellar built in the village of Arboras the following year... LRO is a name I've bumped into before, as I said, and I'm glad I (re)discovered them a few months ago, as their wines are tasty, full of sunshine and have nice depth of character too. Some of them are available in the UK from Cambridge Wine Merchants, Drop Wines, the Humble Grape, the Wine Society and others; and in the US: Johns Island Imports, IL and Astor Wines, NY. More @ www.lareservedo.fr.




2012 Sanssoo St-Saturnin (Syrah, Cinsault; no added sulphites, filtered) – lovely cherry and berry fruit, peppery with liquorice too; tasty juicy palate, quite concentrated and rich though with a certain freshness on the finish too. Lovely. £14
2010 La Réserve d'O Terrasses du Larzac (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault; total sulphites 45 mg/l, filtered) – enticing spicy floral nose with darker blackberry side, lush and ripe with nice tannins and mouth weight, fruity vs earthy finish. Yum. £11.99 - £13.99, $19.96
2009 Hissez O Terrasses du Larzac (similar blend but with more Syrah and some barrel ageing; total sulphites 40 mg/l, filtered) – again has delicious dark vs herby spicy Syrah styling, rich and full-on vs nice grip/bite, earthy vs dried fruit flavours, powerful yet concentrated finish. Wow.
2011 Bilbo St-Saturnin (mostly Grenache; total sulphites 37 mg/l, filtered) – ripe and juicy with liquorice vs crunchier berry fruit, weighty with a light bitter twist, also concentrated and long; nice Grenache style. £10.95 - £12.99

13 March 2014

Languedoc: Domaines Paul Mas update

This belated catching-up sees a couple of striking new poking-fun labels, another sizeable vineyard added to the Mas stable, a variety of 2011 and 2012 vintage reds and whites tasted last year and recently, plus a few words on that "road is long" restaurant 'project' mentioned previously which finally opened a year ago...


First off, Jean Claude Mas has been vineyard shopping again: La Ferrandière comes to 70 hectares (170 acres) near the pretty village of Aigues-Vives in the Aude region and is planted with Cabernet, Grenache, Malbec, Marselan, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Viognier. This latest addition to the total 478 ha now owned/managed by Mas (eight different estates), was "to ensure their development on the French market as well as abroad," the blurb explains. The company has been very export focused so far - 97% of sales in 58 countries apparently - and also works with 70 contracted growers across the Languedoc for extra fruit source.
Their new on-site restaurant - wine bar - wine shop Côté Mas is pretty good by all accounts I've heard (review to follow when I've been there), and looks worth a trip if you're touring this area. And following in the self-mocking footsteps of Arrogant and Elegant Frog, Ribet Red and such like, Doms P Mas have just launched a pair of Striking French! varietals. As you can see, the labels sport a cartoon character demo holding banners saying On veut du Viognier / On veut du Merlot, as in "We want Viognier/Merlot" obviously. See what I thought of them by clicking on the link below, along with a selection of other new vintages from across their extensive portfolio (Grés de Montpellier, Limoux, Picpoul, Pays d'Oc, Terrasses du Larzac, Corbières...).
CLICK HERE TO SEE MY NOTES / REVIEWS as well as lots of other DPM wines, comments and info penned from 2004 to 2011.

21 February 2014

Languedoc & Roussillon: "wines of the mo"

Picked out from a South of France (goes to 'Sud de France Top 100' site, some of these wines were competition winners) tasting I did a few weeks ago for the www.niwsi.co.uk in Belfast, these wines were probably my favourite half-dozen from an interesting and diverse line-up, just for the pure pleasure of plonking a few tasty words out there in the blogosphere...

Domaine Denois 'Sainte Marie' Limoux blanc 2010 (single site "high-altitude" Chardonnay, barrel-fermented/aged) - the best of the three whites we tasted, I found it pretty much as I remembered it as per this note here (including more info on JL Denois and the wine). Touch of class. €15 cellar door.

Château de Cazeneuve 'Cynarah' Pic Saint-Loup 2011 (Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache) - attractive juicy ripe black cherry and liquorice fruit, soft tannins and rounded mouth-feel with a touch of earthy spice and mint. £12.95 the Wine Society. Previously on Cazeneuve.

Domaine Modat 'Comme Avant' Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany 2010 (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan from some of the oldest vines; half of it aged in new oak for 16 months) - a popular choice, I've already reviewed it here where you'll find more about the producer too. Nice mouthful of Med red, a tad expensive though. James Nicholson £14.95 / €21.80.

Pic by Ros Wilson
Château de Lastours 'Grande Réserve' Corbières 2008 (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre: oldest vine selection 30 to 40 y.o; 75% of the blend aged 1 year in French oak) - attractive maturing smoky savoury and dried fruit side vs concentrated and still fairly firm structure, well balanced too. c. €18. More Lastours here.

Laurent Miquel 'Bardou' Saint Chinian 2008 Grande Cuvée (mostly Syrah from selected sites on the Cazal Viel estate, 14 months in French oak - 55% new) - another pretty serious red I'd tasted previously (goes to my special supplement on St Chinian inc. profile on Miquel and notes on several wines), showing a fair bit of oak but it's concentrated and structured with nice fruit. £16 Excel Wines, €20.99 Dunnes.

Domaine Cazes Rivesaltes ambré 2000 (100% Grenache blanc fortified to 16% abv, aged 7+ years in old tuns, 118 g/l residual sugar) - classic style with enticing oxidized walnut/pecan notes, complex flavours with nice sweet vs tangy and savoury finish and a bit of 'cut'. Liberty Wines approx retail £15 half-bottle. Lots more old Cazes here.

29 January 2014

Languedoc special: Saint Chinian wine touring

Alexandre Jougla checking
there's a spider in your wine...

I've published an 18-page Languedoc special supplement on lesser-known Saint-Chinian wine country, following an exciting trip there at the end of last year, which is not viewable on this blog! This mini touring guide features winemaker interviews and profiles with plenty of hot wine recommendations focusing on these estate wineries: Canet Valette, Cambis, Jougla, Cazal Viel and Laurent Miquel, La Madura, La Femme Allongée, Boissezon Guiraud, Milhau-Lacugue, Bousquette, Navarre, la Maurerie, Pech Menel...
There's also a spotlight on this year's 'Grand Cru selection' competition winners and my favourites (e.g. La Grange Léon, La Linquière, Borie La Vitarèle, Moulinier, Cave de Roquebrun, Les Eminades, Viranel, Champart among others...). Plus a few tips on good eating and places to stay in the Saint Chinian area, such as Château les Carrasses and Le Faitout restaurant, as well as some serious 'high-altitude' turnip talk (aka navets du Pardailhan)...

It's all now part of a massive French wine e-magazine HERE.

More St Chinian on this blog:
Languedoc special supplement 2015
Languedoc: Saint-Chinian 2010 vintage report
Or peruse the Languedoc winery A to Z in the right hand column for more estates in St Chinian...

23 December 2013

Roussillon and Languedoc: "festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate" (part 2)

Further to these recent words of wisdom on my WineWriting.com blog: Spain v Australia: festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate (goes there naturally), which also includes a little insight into fine chocolate making and the different types... Here are some more "festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate," this time sourced from the Languedoc and the Roussillon. When talking about "wine with chocolate," many people - okay, wino people rather than normal people at least - think of rugged Roussillon country and its sometimes sublime red vins doux naturels or fortified sweet reds based on Grenache, especially Banyuls from the southeastern corner bordering Spain or Maury in the region's northern flank nudging up against the Corbières hills.

Those famous demijohns, slightly predictable target for a photo, outside at Mas Amiel: mostly empty as this type of traditional 'oxidative' ageing is now only used for a small proportion of their Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) production. Photo: Vi Erickson.
Mas Amiel is arguably the most famous name in the Maury area (with suitably celeb prices to match, you might be tempted to add) and particularly well known for its old vintages. We were treated to their 1980 (in magnum no less, a special millennium bottling aged for nearly 20 years in demijohns and large casks beforehand; 16.5% abv) at the 'wine with chocolate' tasting event featured in the post mentioned at the top of the page (follow that link for more info). I've tasted this vintage before in situ (goes to profile and notes on MA penned in 2007, 2009, 2010 and updated earlier this year), although not sure if it's exactly the same wine, as that 1980 had one of their regular 'Millésime' labels, implying vintage style i.e. aged for a relatively short time in cask and the rest in bottle. In any case, the 1980 "millennium" was delicious and a fine match for the Co Couture chocs in front of us, especially the chilli flavour actually. Browning in colour with intriguing meat gravy vs liquorice nose, rich and concentrated with lush mouth-feel vs nice bite and developing savoury flavours; still alive with complex long maturing finish. Yum. £85 magnum.
Also from Maury, made by the worth-visiting Vignerons de Maury co-op winery found in the village, comes their Cuvée Centenaire (specially brewed in 2010 to celebrate 100 years, obviously; 16% abv), which was quite orangey brown with 'volatile' red-Madeira notes and sweet dried fruits vs meaty mature cheesy palate; particularly good with the ginger chocolate. About £23. More of their wines are HERE (St-Bacchus Awards) and probably elsewhere on the blog too. Banyuls was well represented by one of its top VDN producers Domaine du Mas Blanc with their 2000 Vieilles Vignes label (old vines; 16.5% abv): oxidised intricate mature-cheesy nose, lush vs savoury palate with complex toffee and dried raspberry flavours, long smooth finish. The plain choc and sea salt flavoured one almost freshened up the wine, not so good with the ginger though funnily enough. £27 approx. More on DMB HERE.
Moving on to a few 'regular' Roussillon and Languedoc reds, not deliberately tasted with chocolate (but might have been unintentionally) in recent weeks. Firstly, a pair from Naked Wines. Benjamin Darnault's 2012 La Cuvée Réservée Cotes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache, Syrah; 14.5% abv, bottled in the Aude though?) is deep purple black in colour, a 'modern' style big fruity and spicy red; peppery blackberry with firm grip vs 'sweet' rounded palate, nice dry texture vs ripe berry fruit, liquorice and spice with punchy alcohol on its lively finish. Attractive good+ co-op level red, okay at £8.49 ('Angel' price) but not worth £11.49 ('normal': more here about Naked's pricing). Same could perhaps be said about their 2012 Le Petit Train Syrah (£8.25 or £10.99) made by Katie Jones, although this wine was apparently specially commissioned by Naked after Katie was sabotaged by some jealous thug, who broke in and poured away an entire vintage of her white wine. So, there's an "investment in people" type story behind it (as is Naked's self-acclaimed style generally). Anyway, it's a very nice red showing touches of sweet coconut oak layered with really ripe black cherry/olive even, soft fruity and rounded mouth-feel with a hint of herby spice vs a light bitter twist of tannins/acidity and blast of warmth. Kept well after opening too, turning softer with the oak less obvious and nice sweet black cherry/olive fruit vs light grip.
Finishing off in Saint-Chinian in the Languedoc back-lands, I've picked out just a few of my favourites from a trip last month, which were winners in a "Grand Cru selection" competition I was on the tasting panel for. CLICK HERE for my full-monty St-Chinian special supplement, which costs £3 (about €4/$4.50) as it's not viewable on this blog (emailed as a PDF). Features several leading estates (and places to eat and stay), including Domaines Canet Valette, Cambis, Jougla, Cazal Viel, La Madura, La Femme Allongée, Boissezon Guiraud, Milhau-Lacugue and more! In the meantime then...
Laurent Miquel Bardou 2008 (100% Syrah) – still quite toasty coconut with spicy dark fruit vs nice meaty edges, the oak melts into it adding a touch of chocolatey texture/flavour, nice tannins and concentration for a 2008; still quite young and structured with substance. Good stuff. €19
La Grange Léon D'une main à l'autre 2011 (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache) - herbal red pepper, liquorice and perfumed white pepper; quite lush with ripe berry fruit, soft and approachable with bit of weight, freshness and length. Nice now. €16

Domaine la Linquière 310 La Sentenelle 2011 - lovely wild garrigue notes (= reminds of heathland flora!) plus sweet liquorice vs peppery fruit, soft tasty and quite elegant finish. €18
Borie la Vitarèle Les Crès 2005 (Mourvèdre, Syrah) - savoury touches vs dark cherry, nice 'chalky' tannins with a touch of freshness, tight and elegant, still relatively young really, lovely savoury vs liquorice and spice finish. €18.50

Above prices are cellar door in France, so these are all towards dear wines although among the producers' top cuvées; or would be in the UK, Ireland or US once you slap on eye-watering taxes!

27 November 2013

Languedoc: Jean-Louis Denois, Roquetaillade

I posted comments and info back in April about Jean-Louis Denois' "no added sulphite" wines from his northern Roussillon vineyards HERE, including a little background on the man, how these wines came about and what attracted him to the St-Paul and Caudiès de Fenouillet area. I've since added a few new notes to that profile too on other wines sourced from these Agly valley plots, such as two vintages of his smart Saint Louis Syrah. This time, the spotlight focuses in on some of the sparkling, white and red wines that have helped build his south-of-France reputation, which come from his elevated 'Upper Aude valley' vineyards in the lost villages of Roquetaillade (called la Borde-Longue) and Magrie (la Métairie d’Alon) lying within the Limoux appellation (he doesn't label all of them as that though for various reasons). This is where Jean-Louis' Languedoc 'adventure' began, as the story goes...
Born into a long-established Champagne family, Jean Louis studied winemaking and business, then went to work for Boschendal in South Africa making 'Cap Classique' fizz. He also travelled around Australia, New Zealand and the US to take in what else was going on in the wider wine world. When he returned to France, he created a sparkling wine brand sourced from just outside the Champagne area that was big in the USA apparently. He bought his first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in Limoux country in the late 1980s, followed by planting Champagne clones of Pinot in the early 90s to make fine sparkling wines. This expanding estate was to become the now relatively famous Domaine de l'Aigle, which was sold to Antonin Rodet and now belongs to the Gérard Bertrand group. This cooler spot, with some vineyards lying at over 300 metres above sea level, was also considered a good place for making later ripening finer styles of Cabernet (both) and Merlot; and are part of a total of "57 parcels," as Jean Louis describes his patchwork estate, including the aforementioned Roussillon sites. More @ www.jldenois.com.

Domaine de la Borde-Longue (Roquetaillade) – 'Haute Vallée de l'Aude'
2011 La Bourdette Cabernet Franc (13.5%) - nice 'sweet/savoury' fruit, berries with 'soy sauce' tones; dry and firm vs rounded too with a touch more obvious oak than the Syrah say. 2nd day – that oak has blended into the wine better, ripe rounded texture vs structured and 'fresh' tannins, well balanced and quite elegant with a little weight and light coconut grain. Also needs a bit longer to open up.
2010 La Bourdette Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5%) - enticing dark cassis and cherry with earthy liquorice notes vs maturing savoury vs coco oak edges, lovely concentrated fruit with light coco vs dark choc texture, sweet vs savoury too with a fair kick and dry vs supple tannins. Long balanced and quite elegant / classy despite that alcohol, tightens up with a touch of freshness, light dry bite and lingering dark liquorice vs savoury fruit. Lovely wine, drinking well now although should improve a little more. €12
2008 Reserve Merlot - a bit oaky to start (surprising after 5 years) although has nice smooth tannins, quite rich plum and chocolate flavours, dry vs rounded profile; was even okay with a Chinese pork dish. Turns more savoury after being open, showing liquorice and a wilder earthy fruit side, nice tannin texture and depth of fruit vs chocolate oak edges; more 'volatile' and oxidised after two days open (not surprisingly).

2006 Pinot Noir brut Vin Mousseux de Qualité élaboré en Méthode Traditionnelle' (12%). Intricate toasted nut and Fino notes on the nose, baked oats straw and honey vs floral red fruity mix, chocolate and bread tones too; rich toasty nutty and yeasty flavours, concentrated with fine tight acid structure still, fresh and dry vs all those lingering complex aged flavours, delicious and classy. Maturing vs still young, will keep longer yet it's lovely now; tastes like Vintage Bolly.
JLD Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut (50-50, aged 2+ years on the lees, 'disgorged' Oct. 2012, 12.5% abv) - lovely elegant mousse and yeasty biscuit nose, rich vs elegant mouth-feel, tasty oat biscuit and toasty nutty flavours vs subtle crisp dry finish with mouthwatering bite. Yum, very elegant and drinkable. €11
Chardonnay Extra Brut - very fizzy, less toasty and dry maybe than the Pinot Chardy, fruitier and more honeyed with delicate biscuit honeysuckle and nutty tones; nice fruit with light yeast notes, quite crisp and delicate with a bit of roundness and 'sweet/savoury' oat flavours. €10

2009 Grande Cuvée Limoux rouge (65% Merlot + both Cabernets & Malbec, 14% abv) - chocolate and coconut tones vs maturing savoury fruit, prune liquorice and leather vs sweet berry and cassis. Quite lush with ripe dark fruit vs cedar notes, concentrated and powerful yet showing fairly fine balance, rounded chocolate texture vs dry bitter twist and a hint of freshness, ripe and maturing vs still lively and structured. Drinking well now - good with venison steak - but will keep too as it's quite big and firm still vs 'sweet' and rounded. 2nd day - a touch more rustic and savoury/meaty, oak is more integrated with nice ripe dark berry fruit, full-on yet rounded, good bite yet developing. €10
2010 Grande Cuvée Limoux blanc (Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, 12.8% abv) - quite oaky vs nice nutty and aniseed notes, rounded vs fresh with medium body, oily honeyed side vs crisper white peach and citrus vs nutty toasty oaty flavours. A few hours open: gets oilier and nuttier with appley crispness still vs ripe and rounded. €10
2010 Sainte Marie Limoux (single site Chardonnay, 400m altitude) - toastier and richer than the Grande Cuvée, coconut honey and oatmeal with light grainy texture vs nutty and rounded, quite concentrated with a little bite and exotic ripe fruit (pineapple, peach) vs dusty coconut oak and fairly big mouthful. Quite coconut oaky but has rich honeyed fruit and lees-y buttery depth with nutty development. €15

2012 Les Oliviers white Sud de France (blend of mostly Chardonnay plus a little Muscat from the Fenouillèdes and some Chenin from Roquetaillade; 11.8%, organic) - nice aromatic nose, floral and grapey vs peach and citrus, dry crisp and elegant palate with attractive simple tasty fruit and zesty 'chalky' finish. €7
More of his wines from the northern Roussillon HERE.

16 September 2013

Languedoc: Clos Bagatelle update

A tasty little "Saint-Chinian pronto-post" suddenly seemed appropriate, since I did a wine tasting recently featuring Clos Bagatelle's La Gloire de Mon Père 2000 vintage (selected blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache - £19.95 Terroir Languedoc, UK), which showed very well that certain Languedoc reds can age beautifully. Possibly the star of the evening actually, this wine is drinking deliciously now with all those complex savoury flavours that come with age plus caramelized liquorice and dried fruits; yet there was still a bit of structure and substance behind it (2000 was a good vintage here), the estate's top red I believe. There's a wee profile on owners Christine Deleuze and brother Luc HERE with a few other wines and vintages (spanning 2004 to 2010) tasting-noted.
And more Saint-Chinian wines HERE - 2010 vintage report, or browse my Languedoc winery A to Z on the right...

14 August 2013

Languedoc: Château Maris - Minervois La Livinière

from chateaumaris.com
Robert Eden, "bio-dynamic wine maker" as he describes himself on their website, has been working in the Languedoc for many years now and set up Château Maris 15 years ago, backed by Kevin Parker of Green Partners. They're obviously very committed to environmentally friendly wine production - Demeter certified since 2008, Biodyvins in 2004 (both for biodynamics), Ecocert in 2002 and the National Organic Program - and there's a fair amount of detail on this on their site: click on web link under the photo (Robert with one of their vineyard horses). But to try and go 'all the way' organically, in terms of carbon emissions, water and energy sustainability etc., they also built "the world’s first hemp cellar." Before you spliff-heads out there get too excited, this means they used hemp and lime bricks, which apparently continue absorbing CO2 for many years "as the lime solidifies into limestone," and a lot of raw wood from sustainably managed forests. They claim these materials also provide excellent natural insulation, while being able "to breathe" at the same time...

The € prices quoted are from online retailer The Languedoc Wineshop. Their wines are well distributed in the US, e.g. Verity Wine Partners NY or Kimberly Jones in California, and in Canada (see website for more info); and through Armit Wines in London (£ prices from their online store).
2011 Maris Organic Minervois (mostly Syrah, Grenache) - lovely pure spicy violet and black cherry aromas, tasty fruit with fairly easy-going tannins, nice ripe vs peppery finish. €7.80, £59.94 for six.
2010 La Touge Minervois La Livinière (85% Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - similar pure spicy Syrah style fruit on the nose, punchier and more structured though, attractive dry tannin vs sweet fruit texture, fresh bite and good length. €12.40, £89.94 for six.
2010 Continuité de Nature La Livinière (90% Carignan, Grenache) - jammy blue fruits lined with fresh acidity yet powerful too, concentrated and tight palate, very different from the above wine considering it's the same vintage, leaner and longer; probably more versatile with food though. €21.60, £119.94 for six.
2009 Nouvelles Fraiches Grenache - 'oily' sweet liquorice notes on the nose, ripe and rounded mouth-feel, quite punchy, fades a little in the end. €16.60

09 August 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Turner Pageot, Gabian

Frenchman Emmanuel Pageot and Australian Karen Turner almost strike you as an uber-qualified and experienced couple, with an impressive international wine world background between them. Karen studied winemaking at Adelaide Uni, and Emmanuel's CV takes in France's Université du Vin, sommelier training, UK trade qualifications and learning the biodynamic way from certain distinguished mentors; and, before doing their own thing, they both worked for some well-known names in Aus, UK, elsewhere in France, South Africa, Italy and Portugal. However, this isn't some globalized shiny winery operation, but a small (6.5 ha/16 acres) down-to-earth and bio-dynamically farmed estate off the beaten Languedoc track that appears to be making quality-focused wines worth talking about. Domaine Turner-Pageot is split up into four main chunks of vineyard circling the little village of Gabian, which lies about halfway along the road from Pézenas to Faugères, to the north of Béziers. It's a pretty part of the world to tour around, also sitting between Magalas and Neffies on a hilly southwest-northeast axis. Back to winemaking, very briefly, they prefer to "limit use of SO2 to the final bottling stage" when possible; and both whites and reds spend a fair amount of time ageing on the fine lees. I like their colourful 'modernist' labels too, like the fishy rosé here; makes them stand out. More @ turnerpageot.com.

2012 Le Blanc (Marsanne, Roussanne) - floral honeysuckle and apricot notes, creamy lees-y palate with spicy floral notes and quite exotic fruit too, crisp vs fatter profile with tasty long finish. €11 cellar door.
2011 48H 'rosé' (Grenache, Syrah macerated for two days and 'bled' off) - very deep colour with cherry fruity 'boiled sweet' nose, full and lush mouth-feel with light grip even vs nice creamy fruit. Wow, serious foodie style. €7
2011 Le Rouge (mostly Grenache + Syrah) - perfumed fruity nose with black cherry and cassis, fairly concentrated vs firm tannins and fresh bite too, lively yet tight finish; needs one to two years to open up. €11
2011 Carmina Mayor ("best barrel selection" of 70% Syrah from basalt & limestone soils, 30% Mourvèdre on sandstone) - a touch funkier on the nose with herbal berry fruit, tight and a bit awkward on the palate with light bitter twist; has good depth and length though, so maybe just needs to calm down a little in bottle... €14

Previous comments on some of their wines HERE - my mini-report on Pézenas area wineries penned in May 2011 (mind you, reading it again, I obviously wasn't that keen on their 2009 vintage Rouge!). Emmanuel and Karen are also one of the Terroiristes du Languedoc gang caught pensively on film by Ken Payton, and the Languedoc Outsiders (goes to Facebook) where I pinched the photo from.

23 July 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Sainte-Croix update, Corbières

Or the 'Hautes Corbières' as those folk who live up on the real high ground around here like to say, in the sleepy wee village of Fraissé-des-Corbières about a dozen kilometres inland from the La Palme lagoon or a short stretch to the northeast of Embres-et-CastelmaurePrevious words on and wines from Domaine Sainte-Croix on this blog can be found, from 2009 and 2010, HERE with further updates here (Corbières report May 2011) and here (2009 vintage showcase penned June 2010). I talked to owner / grower / winemaker / sales / everything 'team' Jon and Liz Bowen earlier this year at the dazzling premiere (well, the cinema seats were red at least) of Ken Payton's Languedoc wine documentary 'Les Terroiristes du Languedocin downtown Montpellier, which features Jon and Liz among a dozen like-minded small estate wineries, and at Millésime Bio organic trade show the next day. Including a touch of sampling, goes without saying, their newly released 2011s mostly that, in line with this vintage generally speaking in the south, were fresh, elegant, somewhat closed up and not looking very approachable then; needing more time to express themselves but a promising year perhaps, subtle rather than blockbuster...

Liz & Jon Bowen from facebook.com/LesTerroiristesDuLanguedoc
2011 La Serre white (Grenache blanc & gris) - nutty appley notes with lightly oxidized edges, a tad too 'volatile' and tart in the end. I've liked this white much more in previous vintages (see links at the top).
2011 Rosace des Vents rosé (Carignan, Syrah; 12.5% abv) - rounded 'oily' textured style rosé with subtle red fruits and rose petal notes, rounded vs fresh on its attractive finish.
2012 Aramon (an old, almost disappeared variety) - reductive tones to start, moves on to floral berry and violet notes, juicy and refreshing with nice ripe vs crunchy mouth-feel.
2011 Le Fournas (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) - funky and chunky layered with ripe blue / black berries, attractive 'fresh' tannins and acidity vs dried berry fruit, tight elegant finish.
2011 Pourboire Nature (Carignan, Syrah) - more baked and savoury on the nose, concentrated palate with fresh undercurrent, a touch lean perhaps but it's subtle and long again.
2011 Carignan old-vine (planted in 1905, plus "a tiny bit" of Grenache and Mourvèdre; tank sample) - savoury vs ripe profile with light oak grain, slightly cooked berry fruits, again it's tight, fresh and very long; rather 'unobvious' when I tried it although intense.
2011 Celèstra (80% Grenache + Mourvèdre; 14.5% abv) - quite rich and fruity with grainy coconut tones, chunky and firm mouth-feel with nice meaty edges, has fair oomph yet still with that elegant touch, closes up on the finish. Should be very good.

18 July 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Les Eminades update, Saint-Chinian

LATEST HERE JAN 2014

Before diving into this concise update, why not click HERE to peruse my original insight into Les Eminades found 'out there' in beautiful Saint-Chinian country (posted August 2011), which went along the lines of: "...Set up by affable couple Patricia and Luc Bettoni in 2002, this spectacular-vista estate has been tended organically since the beginning..." Including a few older vintages of the wines tasted below. Anyway, I caught up with them earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show. € prices quoted are cellar door or on-line in France, £ prices are from their London agent Aubert & Mascoli. They have a new website too by the way: follow the link under the photo...

Patricia and Luc Bettoni from leseminades.com

2011 Silice (Sauvignon blanc) - more 'mineral' style of Sauvignon with complex yeast-lees notes and nutty vs appley finish. Good but dear at €14.
2011 La Pierre Plantée (1960 Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache) - 'reductive' blueberry and cassis notes, spicy too with fresh tannins vs sweeter black cherry fruit, lightly peppery and crunchy on its quite long and elegant finish. €7.50 £12.50
2011 Cebenna (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) - enticing ripe and spicy black cherry Syrah styling to start, peppery and intense on the palate with chunkier firmer mouth-feel, savoury dark olive flavours too with nice bite vs weight and tight long finish. €10.50 £15
2010 Vieilles Canailles (1902 Carignan) - quite herbal / 'reduced' (?) on the nose, closed up and a little clumsy at the moment, concentrated though with very tight finish. Not sure, maybe it'll come out of its shell... €25 £25

04 June 2013

Languedoc: Terre des Chardons, Costières de Nîmes

This vaguely inquisitive scribe first came across owner, grower and winemaker Jérôme Chardon - who's been doing organics in the field (they have olive and fruit trees and grow veg too) for no less than 25 years and using the biodynamic way since 2002 - and his sumptuous sunny wines back in the summer of 2010. We were at a tasting and presentation of medal-winning organic wines (and yogurts, jams etc. actually), as Jérôme's 2009 Bien Luné red was one of the Trophy winners. More about that with my note on this wine here: Signature Bio: organic wine competition winners.

From terredeschardons.fr
I caught up with him and tasted the 2011 vintage of this lovely wine and others earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier; I guess its name, Bien Luné, is a bit of a biodynamic pun as it means "in a good mood" although literally could also be "well moon-ed"! You'll find Jérôme's vines in Bellegarde lying between Nîmes and Arles (near the 'border' between the Languedoc and Provence, i.e the bottom of the River Rhone as it heads out merrily into the Med), which are part of Domaine Sainte-Marie des Costières. More info (including stockists and how to get there) @ www.terredeschardons.fr. Reasonable prices too: the € ones quoted below are cellar door.

2010 Clairette de Bellegarde - yeast-lees and toasted notes layered with very floral vs honeyed and exotic fruit, crisp 'mineral' bite with a nice bitter twist; interesting dry white style, even if a little 'out of kilter' in the end maybe. €9
2011 Bien Luné (Syrah, Grenache 50-50) - delicious dark ripe black cherry and liquorice with peppery edges, concentrated and full-on countered by attractive 'fresh' tannins, dark lush fruit and nice bite on the finish. Yum. €8.50
2011 Marginal (Syrah 80%, Grenache) - similar profile but more intense with violets, dark berries and chocolate; again has silky tannins and tasty long finish. Double yum. €10
2011 Le Chardon Marie (mostly Syrah from selected plots) - lively violet cassis and black cherry/berry, peppery too and concentrated with fine tasty finish, lovely textured tannins again with tighter palate vs a bit of oomph. €19

02 April 2013

Languedoc: Domaine de la Marfée, Montpellier

By coincidence (apologies in advance for the linguistic pun for those of you who do French), La Marfée is Francoise and Thierry Hasard's baby, a name I just chanced across on my other blog in a post about Alain and Isabelle Hasard's Les Champs de l'Abbaye estate in Burgundy. I've since found out that Alain and Thierry are indeed brothers, so it must have been vinous fate that I tasted both guys' wines at the same event. In any case, moving swiftly back to the Languedoc and more specifically a village called Murviel-lès-Montpellier found on the northwestern outskirts of said southern French city (next door to St. Georges d'Orques), where I met Thierry recently and sampled La Marfée range (at Millésime Bio organic wine show in fact), a name I sort-of knew but wasn't very familiar with his wines. These are sourced from several different plots around the village, which have been treated to the biodynamic way since 2003. Thierry decided to take this plunge after "a very convincing introductory training course by Pierre Masson," and says he notices the difference in vineyard and vine health and performance. More @ www.la-marfee.com where I copied this intriguing photo from:

Not making meringue but "dynamizing cow horn dung!"
2010 Frissons d'Ombelles white (mostly Roussanne + Chardonnay & Petit Manseng) - enticing yeast lees and toasty tones, seems quite concentrated then closes up on a tight finish; not very obvious at the moment or is there something missing? Overpriced at £15.50.
2010 Les Gamines (50% Mourvèdre + Syrah & Grenache) - aromatic fruit with rustic edges, rich dark palate with meaty and black cherry/olive flavours, tasty ripe dried black fruits developing savoury notes, attractive chunky mouth-feel yet the tannins are quite soft. Good stuff. £13.50 €20.45
2010 Della Francesca (mostly Mourvèdre) - again this is fairly supple and layered with concentrated dark cherry and raisin fruit vs a light bitter twist, meaty savoury flavours vs that 'sweet' fruit, nice balance and style in the end. £18
2010 Les Vignes qu'on abat (old vine Carignan) - rustic 'inky' aromas, concentrated though with lively fruit and good depth, nice fresh bite on the finish. £25
2010 Champs murmurés (Syrah, Mourvèdre) - spicier with lots of black cherry, again a light bitter twist of tannin (but not astringent) adds to its tasty long finish. £25
Some of these wines are available from Leon Stolarski in the UK (£ prices above) and Le Caveau in Kilkenny, Ireland (€).

14 March 2013

Languedoc: Clos du Gravillas update

The latest from Nicole and John Bojanowski in St-Jean de Minervois is HEREincluding a couple of new-ish wines: a white made from Terret gris and a 'Fino' style based on flor-aged Grenache blanc... (original post August 2011 with updates from 2007 to now).

02 March 2013

Languedoc: Sainte Cécile du Parc update

"Stéphane Mouton and Christine Mouton Bertoli created this 'new' estate in 2005, which is found between Pézenas and the little village of Caux..."
With the 2009 vintage of two of their Coteaux du Languedoc reds tasting-noted: Notes d'Orphée and Sonatina both made from Syrah and old Cinsault vines... CLICK HERE to read my updated profile (originally scribbled in 2010).

05 February 2013

Film: 'Les Terroiristes du Languedoc'

I was slouched in the off-red velvet front row (stiff neck anyone) at the packed out Diagonal cinema in Montpellier old town recently for the premiere of American wine filmmaker (or film winemaker perhaps?!) Ken Payton's new documentary, Les Terroiristes du Languedoc. This enjoyable (although arguably half-hour too long, a little more editing needed me thinks...) piece of wine storytelling follows the trials and tribulations of a dozen Languedoc wine estate owners from worries about the weather and bank manager in late spring 2012 to slight relief of vintage time of that same and somewhat unpredictable and challenging year.

Ken Payton
The stars of the film are (highlight = link to post, updates to follow on some of these): John & Nicole Bojanowski from Le Clos du Gravillas in stunningly set St. Jean de Minervois; John & Liz Bowen from Domaine Sainte-Croix in not exactly ugly either Fraïssé-Corbières; Emmanuel Pageot & Karen Turner from Domaine Turner Pageot in Gabian; Virgile Joly, wife and kids in Saint Saturnin; Cyril Bourgne from Domaine La Madura, Saint Chinian; bubbly Brigitte Chevalier from Domaine de Cébène in difficult to pronounce Caussiniojouls, Faugeres country; André Leenhardt at Château de Cazeneuve in Pic St-Loup; François Delhon from Domaine Bassac in Puissalicon north of Béziers; Eric & Vianney Fabre from Château d'Anglès in St Pierre la Mer on beautiful La Clape 'almost-island' near Narbonne; Frédéric & Marie Chauffray, La Réserve d'O up in the Terrasses du Larzac; Jean-Pierre Vanel from Lacroix-Vanel in Caux near Pézenas; and last but not least Thierry Rodriquez from Prieuré de St Sever/Mas Gabinèle, in Causse et Veyran on the far-eastern St-Chinian high ground.
I particularly liked the way you get an insight into the problems, setbacks and difficulties (keeping a sense of humour though) that face guys like this running a vineyard and selling the wine they produce, as a business trying to make a living as much as any lifestyle choice or whatever. You also get a feel for these likeable personalities behind the labels including e.g. those little disagreements between the partners involved (business, husband and wife, sons and daughters etc.), which is certainly more interesting than 12 people would be all going on about nothing but their special terroir. There are some pretty vine-scape shots for sure (not too difficult in the Languedoc wild-lands), but not too much - menacing cloud and big wind are as much a feature here as what could easily become over-idealized dream-scapes.

Anyway, nice one Ken. Apparently, Les Terroiristes du Languedoc will be available on DVD and online sometime soon-ish. Check out their Facebook page for more info: facebook.com/LesTerroiristesDuLanguedoc


14 January 2013

Languedoc: Château de Gaure part 2

The second installment of my profile on Pierre Fabre and his dual location vineyards and wines takes us to Château de Gaure itself in the Languedoc, resting peacefully and slightly loftily between Limoux and Carcassonne, which Pierre snapped up in 2004. As I said in my report on his exciting Roussillon reds (posted below), all their vineyards are now farmed organically with minimal intervention on the winemaking front I'm told. The Limoux vine-scape in Rouffiac d'Aude is planted with mostly Chardonnay plus Chenin blanc and local variety Mauzac, traditionally used for sparkling wines but increasingly being fashioned into the occasional interesting barrel-fermented dry white by certain producers (Rives-Blanques is another). Apparently Pierre and his team have been uprooting any red varieties in this relatively cooler spot, because "they couldn't give us the kind of wines we're looking for." Château de Gaure, the building (pic. below), has also been refitted for holiday accommodation: more info www.chateaudegaure.com.


2010 Campagne (Chardonnay, Chenin blanc) - quite toasty and buttery vs crisp and steely underbelly, attractive citrus vs richer more exotic fruit; nice balance and style in the end. Good to very good.
2010 Oppidum (Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Mauzac) - richer and more buttery than above but not too toasty-oaky, lovely underlying freshness and long finish. Very good.
2010 Mauzac - quite toasted to start yet aromatic and honeyed with nutty tones too, again has attractive fresh bite on the finish. Good+

31 December 2012

Languedoc: Château La Roque update

The 2011 vintage is the first "officially" organic at this now quite famous Pic-Saint-Loup estate: click here to view profile (written a few years ago), those latest 2011 white, red and rosé wines sampled and reviewed, plus links to previous stuff featuring older vintages too...

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