I first visited the Château de Flaugergues back in the mid-1980s, when I was writing and researching French Country Wines. Ten years later I went back in order to include it in The Wines of the South of France, and I had not tasted the wines since, so I was delighted to find the Count Pierre de Colbert behind a stand at the Salon. On previous visits I had met his father, Henri, who is both one of the eccentrics, and enthusiasts, of the Languedoc wine world, and directly descended from Louis XIV’s minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Pierre is the tenth generation of vignerons at Flaugergues, and took over from his father five years ago. He assured me that his father was still very much around, an energetic 70 year old, even if taking things a little easier these days.
Château de Flaugergues is situated outside Montpellier, within the terroir of Méjanelle, which is now being incorporated into Grès de Montpellier. It is the vineyards of Méjanelle that you can see as you land at Montpellier airport. Flaugergues is a handsome 17th century château set in fine gardens, with vineyards all around, which are fighting a rearguard action against encroaching urbanisation. The soil here is a mixture of limestone and clay, covered with the heavy galets that you also find in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Pierre has a more modern approach than his father, while maintaining the intrinsic quality of Flaugergues. For a start all his wines are bottled with a screwcap, even the most expensive. He also makes a range of low alcohol wines, with the help of Vincent Puygibet from Domaine la Colombette, near Beziers. And he is planning to open a restaurant at the château for spring 2010.
2008 Cuvée Foliae, Coteaux du Languedoc blanc, la Mejanelle - 7.00€
Mainly Rolle with a generous splash of Grenache blanc. It is fresh with light fruit and light herbal notes, with sufficient acidity. Nicely rounded and easy to drink, and an example of how much even quite simple white wines from the south of France have improved in recent years.
2008 Cuvée Sommelière, la Méjanelle. 9.00€
This is more serious, a blend of Rolle, Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. The enigma is to work out which of the five varieties dominates the blend, and it is impossible to decide. There are rich herbal notes, with floral hints and a certain peachiness on the palate, which led me to Viognier, but on the nose it was impossible to say which. It was rounded and satisfying, a jolly nice glass of wine.
2008 Cuvée de l’Oncle Charles, Vin de Pays d’Oc 3.50 €
This is intended for easy drinking. There is light dry cassis fruit on nose and palate, with a fresh youthful finish.
2007 Cuvée les Comtes, Coteaux du Languedoc 6.00€
A blend of Grenache, with 15% each of Mourvèdre and Syrah, aged in vat. It was a tad stalky on the nose; I liked the palate much better with rounded ripe fruit. It was eminently drinkable, what the French would call gouleyant, with a satisfactory tannic hint on the finish.
2006 Cuvee Sommelière, la Méjanelle. 9.00€
Again Grenache is the dominant grape variety, as in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with Syrah and Mourvèdre. The wine has a lovely deep colour, with quite a closed dense nose. The palate is dense and ripe too, and at the moment a touch clumsy, probably just a trifle adolescent.
2006 Cuvée Colbert, Grès de Montpellier. 12.00€
A blend of 60% Syrah with 30% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache Noir, which have been aged in 400 litre barrels for 12 months. It was rich, youthful and concentrated on both nose and palate, promising good things for the future.
Definitely time for another visit, was my concluding thought.