Monday, 19 July 2010

THE TERRASSES DU LARZAC WALK around St. Jean de Fos

I think the Languedoc sunshine is sapping my energy levels, or at least making me put my blog rather low down on the list of urgent things to do, such as dip in the pool, open a bottle of rosé, have another swim; visit local market to buy goodies for dinner; see friends ….. both from here and elsewhere. Tomorrow promises an invasion of New Zealanders.

However, on the first Saturday of the month we did find the energy to participate in the Terrasses du Larzac walk. This is an annual event, held in early July, in a different part of the appellation each year. This year we walked round the village of St. Jean de Fos, which is also known for its pottery. The walking was gentle, less scenic than last year, as you never completely lost sight of the village, which has spawned an overly generous amount of ugly new housing. The church dominates the historic centre of the circulade village.

There were two chefs sharing the six courses, Fabienne Perret from Mas Cambounet in Gignac and Calixte Rousse from La Pourpre et les Oliviers in St. Jean de Fos – and we were certainly well fed, as well as enjoying numerous wines. As always this is a great way to see a large number of wine growers, each manning a barrel. Tasting conditions are not ideal – we set out at 7 o’clock and it was a warm sultry evening – but those who had thought to chill their red wines, as well as their whites and roses, offered some enjoyable drinking and tasting.

At the first stop we enjoyed a tartine de fricandeau du mas et pain paysan and the vinous highlights included:

2008 Enfant Terrible from Domaine d’Archimbaud. Based on Mourvèdre with some Syrah and Grenache Noir, with some ripe fresh fruit, after two years ageing in vat.

2007 Mas des Chimères, Terrasses du Larzac, made Guilhem Dardé, who has the best moustache on the French side of the Channel. This had some firm oak on the nose, with youthful tannins balanced by ripe fruit on the palate. It is young and needs time.

2008 Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette, les Clapas, made by Julien Zernott, was firm and structured with some mineral fruit. It is a blend of Carignan and Grenache, combining the best of both varieties.

It was a gentle stroll on to a tulipe de légumes, with tapenade and brebis. Mas Fabregous was showing Le Rosé de Juliette 2009, mainly from pressed Grenache grapes. It was a pretty delicate colour, fresh with herbal hints, elegant with a certain weight on the finish, and quite delicious on a warm summer’s evening. Mas de l’Erme is new to me, I liked their Mourvèdre, Cinsaut Grenache blend for their rosé. Again the colour was delicate, with appealing weight and fruit on the palate. And for reds, La Reserve d’O 2008 caught my attention, with some peppery fruit and firm young tannins.

Aspic de lapereau à la coriandre et aux condiments was the next stop. Domaine des Tremières outside Nébian was showing their 2009 rosé Allegresse, a blend of Syrah and Grenache, with full ripe fruit. The vat is bled so the colour is quite rich, and the wine fills the mouth.

Capitelles des Salles, 2008 Hommage, made by Estelle Salles – see my posting of last summer - was ripe and rounded, with a firm oaky streak, promising some future potential.

Fricassée de veau fermier, légumes croquants, médaillon de riz aux lentilles corail was our next course. And the star wine was Mas Cal Demoura l’Infidele 2007, with some refreshing elegance. It was beautifully balanced and very harmonious, with some appealing fresh red fruit.

I also enjoyed le Clos du Serres La Blaca 2008 from Sébastien Fillon, with its deep colour, rich oaky fruit on the nose, with ripe fruit on the palate, and a long finish and plenty of promise.

2007 Domaine de Familongue Trois Naissances, a blend of all five Midi grape varieties, was ripe and rounded, with some spicy fruit, and a touch of oak on the nose.

The walk ended in the Place de la Mairie in the heart of village where the last two courses were served. The cheese course was some pélardons des chevriers de l’Hérault. 2009 Domaine de Malavieille Alliance from Roussanne went very well with the goats cheese, with some appealing herbal notes. Domaine Sauvageonne Pica Broca 2008 had some fresh spicy red fruit and an attractive mouthfeel.

And to accompany the Gazpacho de fruits rouges, pain d’epices au romarin and chocolate there were just two dessert wines. Mas Jullien’s La Méjanne 2006 from passerillé grapes was the star, with fresh lemon and honeyed fruit, with fresh acidity. Olivier Bellet from Le Clos Riveral drew the short straw, as his rich red Le Rocher des Cistes 2008 was paired with the dessert. It is mainly Syrah and was rich, ripe and dense, and promised beautifully, but not with pudding. By now the light was falling, to the extent that it was impossible to appreciate the wares of the local potters and the wind was getting up, so it was time to turn for home.

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