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Showing posts with label Saint Chinian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saint Chinian. Show all posts

17 September 2023

Languedoc: Saint Chinian

Vieussan from saint-chinian.com.

The Saint-Chinian region lies between Béziers and Minervois and northwards to the jagged hills at the bottom of the Massif Central. It stretches from the villages of Quarante to Vieussan south to north, and from Murviel-lès-Béziers to Ferrières-Poussarou east to west; a vast area of about 40 by 30 kilometres. So, the idea that all wines produced in this appellation represent and express one distinct namesake terroir or 'taste of place' is a stretch.

06 August 2021

Bubbly and white wines of the moment

Photo from saint-chinian.pro
Château Viranel Intuition blanc 2020 Saint-Chinian Languedoc (60% Grenache blanc, 15% Roussanne, 20% Vermentino, 5% Bourboulenc, 13.5% abv): This delicious mix of southern French grape varieties undergoes a modest 15% of the blend fermented in barrels (and all the better for it) with the completed wine stored and stirred on the yeast-lees for three months to maximise flavour and texture.

30 November 2015

Languedoc 2015: "a fleshy vintage..."

I get lots of emails around this time of year crammed with lengthy serious vintage reports and piled high with photos of happy harvesters at work, handsome bunches of grapes, fermenting juice, winemakers sniffing it and barrels awaiting... Nadia and Cyril Bourgne at Domaine La Madura in Saint-Chinian have simply declared this year's wines from their neck of the Languedoc so comfortingly "fleshy," that the Madura team just couldn't resist stripping off in their new shiny winery. Full-bodied and tasty? There's something there for everyone! More on La Madura on this site HERE or www.lamadura.com.

26 June 2014

Languedoc & Roussillon: Domaines Auriol

Les Domaines Auriol, brainchild of Claude Vialade (pic.) who set up the company in 1995, is a producer and property owner with organically run vineyards in Corbières, operates as a broker buying and selling other estate wines and varietals and also offers a winemaking service sourcing tailor-made wines for clients from a whole host of partner wineries across the big south. Apparently they export 90% of production, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find some of their wines in a country near you. I was told Myliko is the UK importer but couldn't find any obvious Auriol wines on their site.

More info @ www.saint-auriol.com, where I found Claude's imaginative and amusing catchphrase: "Redécouvrir l'artisanat industriel," roughly translating as "Rediscover mass-produced craftsmanship," obviously a contradiction in terms but I think she's poking fun at snooty wine people who believe all big is bad. I remember seeing signs for "pain industriel" in French supermarkets, used in a patronising if not deadpan accurate sense like that. Anyway, here's a small selection of her wines sampled over the last few months.

2012 Les Flamants Picpoul de Pinet – enticing yeasty edges, oily vs crisp mouth-feel, concentrated and stylish dry white.
2012 Belles du Sud Cabernet Franc – nice Cab Franc styling showing red pepper notes vs a smokier and richer side.
2012 Domaine Mirabau Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache, Syrah) – a tad 'volatile' and soupy perhaps but has nice soft rich palate.
2011 Intense de Claude Vialade Languedoc (Syrah, Grenache) – attractive ripe dark fruit style with a hint of spice and grip vs lusher mouth-feel.
2011 Croix d'Aline Saint-Chinian (Syrah, Grenache) – lots of lovely sweet cherry and liquorice fruit, ripe and soft palate with complex smoky maturing notes.
2013 Château Cicéron rosé - attractive style dry rosé with creamy red fruits vs lees-y and crisp mouth-feel.

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...

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...

18 July 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Les Eminades update, Saint-Chinian


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

27 August 2011

Languedoc: Domaine les Eminades, Saint-Chinian

Set up by affable couple Patricia and Luc Bettoni, this spectacular-vista estate has been tended organically since the beginning in 2002; and they say they do as much "naturally" and by hand as possible. Their handsome old vines line up across dry stoney hillsides around the villages of Cébazan and Villespassan, mostly made up of senior-citizen Carignan (50 to 110 years old), Grenache (25 to 60 years), a splash of younger Syrah and some middle-aged Cinsault too.
The three wines below sell for about £15 to £25 in the UK via their London agent Aubert & Mascoli (or 10 - 13 - 24 Euros in situ) and were sampled at the ‘natural’ wine fair (click there for more info)See right-hand column for rant on "1-2-3" scoring.

2009 Silice white, Coteaux du Fontcaude (Sauvignon blanc) - toasty and yeast-lees notes, quite intense and concentrated, a tad yeasty still on its tight unrevealing finish. Try it again in a few months time please. 1
2008 Cebenna St-Chinian red (40% Carignan, 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah) - perfumed wild herb/shrub aromas, floral and spicy, elegant lighter style with lovely tasty finish. 2
2007 Vieilles Canailles St-Chinian red (100% single plot 1902 Carignan) - herby vs rich profile, more powerful and concentrated than above, still quite firm and tight mouth-feel yet with enticing liquorice vs savoury flavours. 2+

05 May 2011

Languedoc: Saint-Chinian Berlou and Roquebrun

Berlou and Roquebrun are the two newish (2005) subzones in Saint-Chinian country created around these two villages found on the appellation’s northern edges, with the Orb river more or less forming a partition between them. Can’t really make a judgement based on tasting four wines; and three of them are from each area’s co-op winery, which is no bad thing, of course, if this lets their growers/winemakers focus on making a couple of special wines, although I’d like to get a better idea of how many small estates are really getting behind these two mini-appellations? I’ve used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 here. Euro prices are cellar door per bottle inc. taxes and were added after the event (21-25 March 2011 in the region).

Les Coteaux de Berlou Château des Albières 2008 (35% old-vine Carignan, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre) - intense sweet-perfumed and spicy, vibrant tangy vs richer liquorice fruit with meaty yet minty edges; peppery pure fruit finish, textured tannins and quite elegant. 2 €9.10
Cave de Roquebrun "Baron d'Aupenac" 2008 (80% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache) – again shows enticing herbal cassis vs liquorice and black cherry, touch of oak layered on grippy tannins; pity as it’s a bit over-extracted after that nice start. 1 €21.65!
Domaine Carrière Audier "St-Martin de Vieussan" 2008 (Mourvèdre/Syrah) – a touch oxidised and turning very savoury already, chunky tannins vs some nice fruit but that baked character rides through it. Could just be a dud bottle? €7.90
Cave de Roquebrun "Terrasses de Maynard" 2009 (60% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache) - quite oaky vs lively spicy dark fruit, minty edges vs touch of choc/vanilla adding texture to its big yet rounded tannins, closes up on the finish. A tad clunky perhaps but has good substance etc. 1-2

And from the previous edition of the “Millésimes en Languedoc” tasting sessions in 2010, there were two rather good 2009 vintage reds from two estates not present this time:

Domaine Pin des Marguerites "Pétale Pourpre" 2009 Saint-Chinian-Berlou (Carignan, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah) - peppery garrigue tones with "sweet" blackberry and olive; minty floral blueberry mouthful with "chalky" tannins, fresh bite and quite elegant finish. €11 90
Domaine La Grange Leon "Audacieux" 2009 Berlou (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre) - "Black Forest gateau" nose with violet and liquorice notes; concentrated lively mouthfeel with appealing bite, tannins and lingering menthol flavours. €8 90+

Looking back through all six wines, interesting to note perhaps that my favs are from Berlou? Discuss in less than ten words below...

14 April 2011

Languedoc: Clos Bagatelle, Saint-Chinian

Updated September 2013 - click here to read - featuring their delicious 2000 vintage La Gloire de Mon Père...

Clos Bagatelle, originally the name ("lieu-dit") of a smaller plot of land here, now stretches to around 60 hectares (150 acres) on the outskirts of St-Chinian 'town' itself and some vines in St-Jean de Minervois as well presumably, as they also appear to make a sweet fortified Muscat from this lesser-known appellation lying a little to the west. I’ve tried their wines on three occasions in the last four years and have been consistently impressed; and tasted the first three wines noted below over lunch with Christine Deleuze in Montpellier in March this year during the “Languedoc Millésimes” marathon tasting week. Christine runs the estate with her brother Luc Simon, whose family has been here since the 17th Century apparently.

I’ve used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 here. Euro prices below are cellar door per bottle inc. taxes. More info @ closbagatelle.com (currently "under construction"). Some CB wines are available in the UK from terroirlanguedoc.co.uk (£12-£20), redrobewines.co.uk (£6.95-£8.50) and gauntleys.com (£8.50-£9.50); and tedwardwines.com in New York City.

Donnadieu "Camille et Juliette" rosé 2010 (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre 13%) - again a pale "rosé de presse" style (they’ve stopped doing saignée rosé), subtle and crisp with red vs creamy fruit, tight and quite steely finish. 1+ €6.50
Bagatelle white 2010 (Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Carignan blanc, Vermentino, Chenin) - milky leesy edges with light toast vs juicy and quite rich mouth-feel, attractive mineral/celery/aniseed tones vs weight on the finish. 2
Veillée d’Automne red 2008 (13.5%) - a tad baked with nice cherry/berry fruit though and wild herby edges; quite rich vs freshness underneath adding an elegant touch vs a bit of power too, turning mature/savoury vs sweet strawberry/cherry. 1+

And tasted in March 2009: Terre de mon Père 2009 (Syrah/Mourvèdre/Grenache) - similar profile to their floral, sweet-cherry and cassis-laden Mathieu et Marie 09 (better value too at €6.20 and 2) but chunkier and grippier; still has that delicious intense minty thing vs rich and long dry finish. €20 2+
And April 2007: La Gloire de Mon Père 2004 (13%) - very rich tar v floral Syrah? notes, chunky and lush v firm tannins; coffee and liquorice flavours linger on an earthy v 'sweet' finish, long and full. €20 3

08 April 2011

Languedoc: Saint-Chinian 2010 vintage

This is another in a series of reports and winery profiles from five intensive days spent at the “Languedoc Millésimes” tastings in the region (21-25 March 2011), where I had the chance to taste mostly 2010, 2009 and 2008 vintages. As well as, more importantly and more fun, meet and talk to a couple of St-Chinian winemakers and try (drink/enjoy even; woops, not v. pc) some of their older wines too. I’ve used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 here, if you get my drift. Euro prices are cellar door per bottle inc. taxes, added later so didn’t influence my notes.

Based on a hardly comprehensive/definitive sampling below, 2010 appears to have produced some good but not great white wines and lacklustre to good rosés. Quite a few of the red samples were looking a bit fragile or dumb or ugly-duckling, which is always a risk when raw and unfinished wines are left open to the air. However, certain bottles were already showing very well with similar hallmarks to other Languedoc regions: rich and concentrated with solid fruit and structure yet appealing-textured tannins. Mind you, I said stuff like that last year and the year before about the two previous vintages; and now 2008 is generally looking a bit of a mixed bag (for reds anyway, actually pretty sound for white and rosé) and 2009 can either really impress or rather disappoint.

2010 was a rollercoaster year of weather with a long cold winter, snow in early March in certain places (and not necessarily just on the hills), an awkward hesitant spring with warm weather then rainy and colder again, followed by a very hot and very dry summer, isolated storms in August/September although, generally, very warm right through till early October. Net result: vibrant high-quality reds, as described above, but low on the quantity front thanks to that challenging growing season. Further comments on these three vintages to follow, as I post more blurbs like this on other areas of the Languedoc.

Rugged St-Chinian wine-lands, from www.borielavitarele.fr

Saint-Chinian 2010 vintage


Domaine des Soulié - estery fresh pear and grapey vs intricate aniseed/fennel tones, crisp and mineral bite. 1
Domaine La Croix Sainte Eulalie "tradition" (1/3 Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Vermentino) - similar although more perfumed and exotic/flowery, zesty/chalky mouth-feel, nice and zingy with that underlying flowery peach/apricot fruit. Acid/alcohol a bit hard at the moment although shows attractive oily vs crisp profile. 1+ €5.60
Domaine Rimbert (Clairette, Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Vermentino) - flowery and peachy, more intricate and interesting though on the nose; ends up a tad flat/dilute compared with above, although there's fresh acidity and nice bitter twist vs banana fruit. 1 €6.50
Cave de Roquebrun "Col de la Serre" (Grenache blanc, Roussanne) - milky/lightly toasty with quite rich exotic honey and apricot; subtle oak grain, fatter pineapple fruit vs mineral undertones. Touch clunky perhaps but attractive style overall and good value. 1 €4.50
Domaine du Sacré Coeur (Grenache blanc, Roussanne) - juicy fruity pineapple vs grapey floral tones, crisper palate and zesty finish. 1 €5.20
Cave des Vignerons St-Chinian "Secret des Capitelles" (Grenache blanc, Roussanne) - yeast-leesy buttery and full-on vs cut of acidity, fair mouthful although a bit flabby and simple. 0.5 €6.60
Domaine La Linquière "Fleur de Lin" (Grenache blanc, Vermentino) - ripe and honeyed with milky edges, rounded vs zingy with quite intense mineral side vs that quite exotic fruit. 1.5-2 €9
Clos Bagatelle (Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Carignan blanc, Vermentino, Chenin) - milky leesy edges with light toast vs juicy and quite rich mouth-feel, attractive mineral/celery/aniseed tones vs weight on the finish. 2


Château Cazal Viel "Vieilles Vignes" (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) - elegant pink colour, rose petal and light red fruit notes, zingy crisp palate with subtle biter twist; fair class. 1-2 €7.60
Château Creissan "Cort d'Amor" (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre) - pale pink, similar style to above although much less intense. OK at €4.
Domaine Moulinier (Syrah, Grenache) - quite delicate and tight, subtle creamy red fruits, lacks bit of zest perhaps but it’s OK. 0.5 €5.80
Domaine des Mathurins "Petite Fantaisie" (Syrah, Cinsault) - fuller orangey colour, oily/fruity style, more "vinous" and chunky, quite nice although lacks bit of class. 0.5 €4.50
Clos Bagatelle Donnadieu "Camille et Juliette" (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre 13%) - again a pale "rosé de presse" style (they’ve stopped doing saignée rosé), subtle and crisp with red vs creamy fruit, tight and quite steely finish. 1+ €6.50
Château La Dournie (1/3 Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) - quite elegant and zesty, nice crunchy redcurrant/cranberry then "sweeter" finish. 1 €5.70
Domaine La Linquière (Grenache, Syrah) - juicy fruity boiled sweetie, has a bit of leesy bite and creamier finish. €5
Domaine Rimbert "Le Rosé réussi" (Cinsault, Syrah) - oilier style with rounder strawberry fruit, bit of zing although ends tad bland maybe. 0.5 €5.80

RED - unfinished vat/cask samples

Château La Dournie "Elise" (Syrah, Grenache) - lovely minty wild spicy black cherry, peppery and punchy vs rich and fruity, quite a kick and nice firm/round tannins. 2 €13.50
Mas Champart "Causse du Bousquet" (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache) - somewhat closed and awkward, a tad malo-lactic on the nose; nice fruit though and again soft-ish tannins. 1+? €11.60
Borie La Vitarele "Terres Blanches" (biodynamic) - again shows lovely fruit, pure vibrant dark cherry and liquorice with peppery edges; juicy vs concentrated, attractive coated tannins vs ripe black fruits vs wild herby touches. 2
Château La Madura "Grand Vin" (Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - bit awkward and firm, not showing well. €17
Domaine de Pech Ménel (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre) - malo notes but rich and chunky underneath, again fine tannins and concentrated mouthful. 2 €6-€7
La Croix Sainte Eulalie "Armandelis" (Syrah, Mourvèdre) - minty and wild flowers/herbs, nice fresh cherry fruit then spicier liquorice side, firmer palate vs solid depth. 2.5 €7.70
Domaine du Sacré Coeur - not showing much, taste it again in a few months.
Château Belot "Les Mouleyres" (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache) - oak dominated, obviously, and structured vs rounded, could be promising if they don't keep it much longer in that new? oak. 1
Not sure who made these two, they had just one mysterious word stuck onto the bottle. Will find out and add producer's name:
Chant - lovely lavender and black cherry, nice tannins, darker vs more savoury finish with grip and tight elegant flourish. 2.5
Esprit - lots of new oak, fair substance underneath and very firm, difficult to taste but would like to come back to it.

Saint-Chinian red, other vintages

Le Prieuré des Mourgues Grande Réserve 2007 (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, 14%) - well balanced with solid tannins vs sweet fruit and developing savoury/animal notes, quite rich and spicy (paprika) vs attractive black cherry and length; maturing vs structured finish with firm vs rounded texture and lively flourish too. 2+ €12
Borie La Vitarèle Les Terres Blanches 2009 - lush black cherry with earthy peppery edges, solid vs appealing rounded palate finishing with sweet fruit and power. 2 €8.50
Mas de Cynanque L’Acutum 2008 (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan; estate converting over to organic) - powerful with grainy texture vs rich cherry fruit, has a touch of freshness about it although it’s a bit “hot” too, attractive depth of fruit though. 1 €12 

Profile on Clos Bagatelle. Scan down the Languedoc winery A to Z for more, right hand column or do a search using "Saint Chinian."

22 January 2010

Languedoc: Château Bousquette, Saint-Chinian

Updated Jan 2014: latest vintages etc. can be found in my all singing, all dancing St Chinian special supplement HERE.

A couple of forgotten yet plush reds (re)discovered from the tasting table at Millésime Bio organic wine show (Perpignan Jan 2008). I didn't get around to following up with the producers on their stands or writing them up until now, six months later although none of them is in danger of fading away! So 'ones to watch' perhaps or 'ones to call in on' when next in the area...
2005 Cuvée Pruneyrac Saint-Chinian (Mourvèdre Grenache) - dark fruits and liquorice with pepper and leather tones; fairly dense mouth-feel with firm structured finish; a fairly 'wow' kinda red. 90+?

Update 2010 from Millésime Bio organic fair in Montpellier. Owned and run by Swiss winegrowers Eric and Isabelle Perret since 1996, although the property's 24 ha/60 acres have been organically farmed since 1972 actually; quite progressive in the scheme of things. Bousquette (pic.) lies on the eastern side of the Saint-Chinian appellation about 15 km northwest of Béziers.
2007 "tradition" (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan) - dried fruity and smoky nose, ripe and liquoricey vs tobacco edges; tasty and soft-ish palate, nice now. 85
2006 Cuvée Pruneyrac (Mourvèdre, Grenache) - a tad reductive or struck-matchy (?) on the nose yet enticingly fruity too; lovely concentrated pruney fruit vs pretty solid tannins and fair oomph on the finish. 88+
2008 L'Absolu (Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan) - a dollop of sweet oak overridden by attractive black fruit / olive notes; quite intense and fruity with firm yet rounded framework, closes up on the finish; should be interesting when it softens a little. 87+
2006 Prestige (Syrah, Grenache) - herbal vs liquorice on the nose; rich yet very solid mouthfeel bolstered by delicious depth of maturing fruit and attractive weight, still young though in the end. 90

Route de Cazouls, 34460 Cessenon: www.chateaubousquette.com.

24 January 2009

Languedoc: Borie La Vitarèle, Saint-Chinian

UPDATED JAN 2014 (goes there) - and see links at bottom too.

Certified organic and farmed along biodynamic lines by Cathy Planès and Jean François Izarn, this charming 16 ha/40 acre property is lost in the countryside beyond the village co-op (it's nicely signposted though). Their Saint-Chinian appellation wines are labelled by vineyard site, such as Les Schistes (more than one type of schist, obviously: plural schists sounds odd in English) or Terres Blanches (chalk & clay), reflecting the varieties planted and nurtured across different plots and soils. They also appear to have been quite successful with Cabernet and, more surprisingly, Merlot (see notes below) in this area since setting up the domaine in 1990. Cathy and Jean François can also provide full-blown meals in their cosy ferme-auberge (farmhouse-inn literally) for a minimum of ten people,if booked in advance (including a good dose of organic food, I assume, matched with the estate's wines), which must be a great way to integrate the actual flavours of their labours, andphilosophy, with good hearty local produce.

I tasted these in situ in November 2007:
2006 La Cuvée des Cigales, Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Murviel (Grenache Merlot) – nice fruity spicy style showing a bit of grip and depth too, easy drinking and ready to do so. 83-85
2006 Terres Blanches, St-Chinian (80% 
Grenache 20% Syrah) – attractive rich black cherry fruit with liquorice tones, quite chunky tannins v fruit concentration, power and length; needs a few months at least to open up, lovely length and style. 89-91
2001 La Combe, Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Murviel (60% 
Cabernet Sauvignon plus Syrah Merlot) – appealing 'volatile' complexity and developing fruit, meaty with perfumed cassis edges; maturing palate v rather stonky tannins, powerful yet lush finish. 88-90

And these at Millésime Bio wine show Jan 2009, Montpellier:
2008 Terres Blanches (vat sample) - lovely intensity of peppery black cherry and cassis fruit; firm and 'chalky' texture v fruity and silkily structured. 89+
2007 Les Schistes (
Grenache Syrah Carignan) - firmer and more structured v richer mouth-feel, very spicy dark fruit with power and promise. 90-92
2007 La Combe (
Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah) - smokier and more rustic, very chunky and solidly textured v ripe cassis and prune, again powerful finish. 90
2006 Les Cr
ès (Syrah Mourvèdre) - still a bit closed on the nose, concentrated and very firm with a tad of coco/chocolate oak; pretty huge and quite extracted but also has nice developing tobacco edges and plenty of lush fruit. Needs 6-12 months to come together properly. 92+?

View my notes on more BLV wines by clicking here (Millésime Bio 2006) and here (Montpellier 2005).

UPDATES: latest La Vitarèle HERE (special St-Chinian supplement Jan 2014), here (St-Chinian report April 2011 inc. their Terres Blanches 2009 & 2010 vintages) and here (2009 vintage report, June 2010).

La Combe, 34490 Causses-et-Veyran. Tel: 04 67 89 50 43, fax: 04 67 89 70 79; jf.izarn@libertysurf.frwww.borielavitarele.fr.

30 January 2008

Languedoc: Domaine Canet Valette, Saint-Chinian

Domaine Canet Valette
One forgotten yet plush red (re)discovered from the tasting table at Millésime Bio organic wine show held in Perpignan back in January 2008. I've tried a couple of more recent vintages of their wines since then, sometime in early 2010 I think, and wasn't so sure about them. Natural classics or faulty and overpriced? Discuss in less than ten words... I'll dig out my notes again, if I can find them, and might add a few inspiring words at some point in the not too distant!
2006 Ivresses... Saint-Chinian (90% Grenache + Syrah Mourvèdre) - ripe lush and vibrant with attractive liquorice and tobacco notes; shows real depth of fruit v big tannins, well balanced despite its power and grip. 90

UPDATED Jan 2014: see in-depth interview and profile on Marc Valette, with several new and old vintages tasted, in my mega Saint Chinian supplement published HERE.

24 November 2007

Languedoc: Mas Champart, Saint-Chinian

LATEST HERE (St Chinian special Jan. 2014)

Isabelle and Matthieu Champart, who bought their first vineyard here over 30 years ago, craft an unimpeachable range of mostly reds (although I'm not that keen on their white - see below - but it's early days for this kind of style, given that white wines have only really been coming on-stream for a few years) at this secluded 16 ha (planted out of 25), or 40 acre, Saint-Chinian estate. It's located on the rapid climb, at 200m to 300m altitude (650-950 feet), to the south of the town just before the hamlet of Cazo; and is essentially a patchwork of about twenty distinct plots. Their star reds are 'Clos de la Simonette' (mostly south-facing vineyard on steep terraces, although one parcel has a more northerly exposure: the fruit from here is used for rosé, Matthieu told me in 2005) with at least 70% Mourvèdre and Grenache; and Causse du Bousquet, a more classic Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan blend. By the way, their Mourvèdre was originally selected from Domaine Tempier in Bandol and Château de Beaucastel, that slightly well-known CNDP property. They have plans to build a better visitor reception area at some point (the cellar is appealingly small), so you can taste and chat in comfort. For US distribution, try Kermit Lynch in California.

I visited Mas Champart in late Nov. 2007 and opened these two bottles shortly afterwards:
2005 Causse du Bousquet, St-Chinian (50-60%
Syrah plus Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan 14%) - quite fine mix of ripe v earthy black cherry with very light cinnamon oak spice; lush concentrated and full v tight firm framework, restrained finish showing weight and elegance too. £12.50 terroirlanguedoc.co.uk. 89-91
2006 Saint-Chinian blanc (
Marsanne Roussanne Bourboulenc Grenache blanc) – toasty coconut nose with some creamy yeasty notes, full and rounded with submerged aromatic fruit but overall the oak's a bit heavy-handed, finishing too overtly woody. 80+

Plus a few notes on more Champart wines sampled at Vinisud trade fair in 2006:

"Isabelle and Matthieu Champart's lovely reds have long been among my favourite St-Chinian wines, especially their Mourvèdre rich Clos Simonette..."
2004 St-Chinian blanc
(Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache blanc & Bourboulenc) - fresh and exotic fruit then turns zesty and mineral, nice clean elegant finish. 85

2003 Côte d'Arbo St-Chinian (Syrah, Grenache & Carignan) - wild and spicy with attractive pure fruit, quite elegant with ripe soft-ish finish. 87-89
2003 Causse du Bousquet (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache & Carignan) - more liquorice and black cherry, again shows softness v concentration, grip v elegance. 90
2003 Clos de la Simonette (70% Mourvèdre & Syrah) - firmer structure and style, again displays lovely fruit and rounded tannins. 90-92

And previously these reds at a wine fair in Montpellier in 2005:
2002 Clos de la Simonette (70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Displays pretty good balance of firmness and forward fruit, tight elegant finish too. 87-89
2003 Clos de la Simonette (vat sample, 70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Shows promising classic mix of firm yet rounded tannins and lovely ripe sweet fruit within a chunky framework. 89-91
2002 Causse de Bousquet (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan) - Also shows some of the nice concentrated black fruits of the C d'A but this has firmer leaner structure. 85-87
2003 Côte d'Arbo (vat sample Syrah Grenache Carignan) - Offers youthful chunky black cherry fruit, not finished or together but shows promise.

Bramefan, Route de Villespassans, 34360
Saint-Chinian. Tel: 04 67 38 20 09 (cellar), 04 67 38 05 59 (office).

14 March 2005

Faugères Saint-Chinian Coteaux du Languedoc tasting

Notes and ratings on 35 wines selected from the "Meet the winegrowers" tasting held at Mas de Saporta in Montpellier, 14th March 2005. More info on these regions and producers in reports written for UK trade paper Off Licence News (scroll down), including the latest developments in the Languedoc and Roussillon.


2003 La Closeraie, Abbaye Sylva Plana (Grenache Syrah Carignan) - Nice pure spicy Syrah fruit comes through on the nose, blackberry/currant; shows good bite v softness on the finish. 85-87
2003 La Longe de l'Abbé, Abbaye Sylva Plana - Has a tad more weight and extract than la Closeraie, plus a touch of wood adds texture; grip v black fruits, finishing a little bitter perhaps. 85-87
2003 Florentin Abbal, Domaine Valambelle (Syrah Cinsault Mourvèdre) - Floral spice on the nose, soft black fruits in the mouth set against firm grip and mineral bite, again shows elegance on the finish. 87-89
2003 L'Angolet, Domaine Valambelle (Syrah Carignan Mourvèdre) - More perfumed style with dominant Syrah spicy medicine notes, quite concentrated showing elegant grip v nice fruit. 85-87
2003 Les Petites Mains, Domaine de l'Ancienne Mercerie - Attractive 'sweet' herbal fruit, has soft mouthfeel yet firm tannins at the same time. 87-89


2002 Clos de la Simonette, Mas Champart (70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Displays pretty good balance of firmness and forward fruit, tight elegant finish too. 87-89
2003 Clos de la Simonette, Mas Champart (vat sample, 70% Mourvèdre + Grenache) - Shows promising classic mix of firm yet rounded tannins and lovely ripe sweet fruit within a chunky framework. 89-91
2002 Causse de Bousquet, Mas Champart (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre Carignan) - Also shows some of the nice concentrated black fruits of the C d'A but this has firmer leaner structure. 85-87
2003 Côte d'Arbo, Mas Champart (Vat sample Syrah Grenache Carignan) - Offers youthful chunky black cherry fruit, not finished or together but shows promise.
2001 Gabrielle de Spinola, Château Coujan (45% Mourvèdre) - Attractive sweet fruit offering black cherry and liquorice, once again nicely textured dry v ripe tannins. 87
2001 Ile de Corail, Château Coujan (100% Mourvèdre) - Slightly baked/oxidised on the nose, rich and rustic tobacco style with meaty character, good concentration with firm yet ripe and round tannins. 89
2000 Grand Vin, Domaine de la Madura - Quite chunky, herbal and spicy with firm still closed palate; more extracted than their cuvée classique, but it works well here showing nice roundness too. 90
2001 Grand Vin, Domaine de la Madura - Chunky like the 2000, this vintage offers more black fruit coating coupled with solid tannins and depth of fruit; closes up on the finish showing promising future. 90-92
2002 Les Grés, Borie La Vitarele (Syrah Mourvèdre) - Thick liquorice fruit set against beefy tannins, needs a bit of time to develop but shows promise. 89
2003 Terres Blanches, Borie La Vitarele (Mostly Grenache) - Ripe plum and liquorice fruit, earthy warm style with a touch of finesse and bite on the finish. 89

Coteaux du Languedoc

Grés de Montpellier
2002 L'Ecrit Vin, Domaine Faurmarie (50% Mourvèdre + Syrah Grenache) - Spicy and grippy offering attractive fruit and firm structure with elegant long finish.89
2003 les Mathilles, Domaine Faurmarie - Nice pure spicy fruit with liquorice and blackberry tones, balanced palate showing softness and grip together. 87-89
2001 Cuvée l'Espérance, Mas Domergue - The nose is a bit 'reductive'/sulphide, but it has nice spicy ripe liquorice palate with good concentration and soft finish.87
2001 Grande Cuvée, Domaine Ellul-Ferrières (Grenache Mourvèdre 14.5%) - Also displays slight sulphide aromas (complexity?) and tangy blackcurrants but has richer blackberry fruit as well, thicker texture than the Romarins with more grip yet rounder palate thanks to hints of vanilla from the oak; the quite high alcohol is well integrated. 87-89
2001 Les Romarins, Domaine Ellul-Ferrières (14.5%) - Touches of maturing game, spice and liquorice alongside tart blackcurrant fruit; ripeness v tangy freshness on the palate, grip v liquorice and chocolate, austere bite too lending length. 87

Pic Saint-Loup
2002 Cuvée Sainte Agnès, Ermitage du Pic St-Loup (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - More concentrated and firm-structured than their regular red, this has nice ripe black cherry fruit and well balanced finish. 87
2003 RoséErmitage du Pic St-Loup (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - Quite rich and serious, a touch volatile and oxidised but it works with this food-friendly rosé. 85

St-Georges d'Orques
2001 La Tour et Carascaude, Château de Fourques (Grenache Syrah) - Herbal blackcurrant fruit also showing a 'sweeter' side, firm yet ripe palate, quite complex and long. 89

1999 Les Marnes Bleues, Domaine Saint Andrieu (70% Mourvèdre) - Meaty maturity set against very firm palate, but there's plenty of ripe fruit and power as well. 88-90
2001 La Séranne, Domaine Saint Andrieu (30-40% Mourvèdre and Carignan) - Quite rustic and soupy, ripe and rich with touches of spicy herbs set against black fruits and liquorice, nice grip to finish. 87-89
2000 L'yeuse noire, Domaine Saint Andrieu (50% Mourvèdre) - aged in barriques: reductive/sulphide complexity on the nose, again very rustic but also very ripe liquorice fruit, soft dry tannins and herby finish. 89

Latest Saint Andrieu here.

Picpoul de Pinet
2003 la Font du Loup, Mas Saint Antoine (Picpoul) - More intense than their 'basic' P de P (this is made from later picked grapes sourced from an older parcel), lovely balance of zingy mineral bite and ripe oily fruit. 90
2003 Château de Pinet - Broader and fatter than their Dom. Peyrolle Picpoul, this is quite rich and smoky in fact but still retaining that essential crisp mineral edge. 85-87
2004 Château de Pinet - Displays spicy celeriac notes, very concentrated fruit v yeast-lees intensity, tight steely finish. 90
2004 Domaine Félines Jourdan - Classic style showing zesty extract and mineral bite on its very dry finish. 87-89

La Clape
2003 Les Chailles, Mas du Soleilla (Grenache Syrah) - Unfortunate name for a wine region! Very ripe - perhaps a little too, to the detriment of some balancing grip - soft black fruits and liquorice, attractive now. 85+

Terres de Sommières
2001 Les Myrthes, Mas Mouriès - Shows quite a bit of coconut and spice oak but has good depth of fruit and texture underneath. 89+

2004 Vin de Pays d'Oc blanc, Mas Mouriès (Grenache Blanc Ugni Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, tank sample) - Nice zesty mineral edges, crisp v concentrated style. 85+
Latest Mouries: follow link in the winery A to Z, right.

2003 Coteaux du Languedoc blanc, Mas Saint Antoine (Grenache Blanc Roussanne) - Nice with salmon. Starts with mineral crispness turning to oily texture, good steely v ripe style. 85-87
2004 Lucian blanc, Vignerons de Saint-Saturnin (Grenache Blanc Bourboulenc Marsanne 13%) - Offers attractive ripe white peach and citrus fruit tempered by floral crisp mineral finish. 85-87


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