Thursday, 18 February 2010

ROUSSILLON AT MILLESIME BIO

The village of Calce on the edge of the Agly valley is a wonderful corner of Roussillon, which seems to attract more than its fair share of creative and talented wine making. It all began with Gérard Gauby, who is virtually representative of the development of wine making in Roussillon. The first time I went to see him, in the late 1990s, when he had been making wine for about ten years, I asked him about the history of his estate and he said quite simply: l’histoire c’est moi. And you could see what he meant; he was one of the first, if not the first, in the village of Calce, to take the family vines out of the cooperative and start putting wine in bottle. And his example has attracted others.

There was a little group of them at Millésime Bio – Thomas Lubbe from Domaine Matassa; Olivier Pithon;Jean-Philippe Padié and a more recent arrival - Thomas Teifert. Many of their wines are vin de pays, des Côtes Catalanes, rather than an appellation, for the usual reasons that appellation regulations tend to be too restrictive and limiting.

Jean-Philippe Padié has lived in Burgundy, near Beaune, studied in Lyon and Montpellier and worked at Mas Amiel and with Gerard, and has now taken on six hectares of vines at Calce and Estagel. His first vintage was 2003.

2008 Fleur de Cailloux, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes – 14.00€
A blend of Grenache Blanc on limestone, Grenache Gris on marnes calcaires and Macabeu on schist. This was very intriguing. There is a hint of honey on the nose, with herbal notes and white flowers, with a rounded palate. Half is aged in old 300 litre wood and half in stainless steel. It undergoes a malo-lactic fermentation and is kept on the lees, without any bâtonnage, after a long slow fermentation.

2008 Milouise, Côtes Catalanes. – 27€ From Jean-Philippe’s oldest Grenache Gris, between 60 and 100 years old, grown on a variety of different soils Again some lovely elegant herbal notes, with a touch oak, after time in 600 litre barrels. It is more mouth-feeling, solid and rounded than Fleur de Cailloux.

2007 Petit Taureau, Côtes du Roussillon – 12€
From 100 year old Carignan vines on limestone, and much younger Syrah, 20 or 30 years old, on schist. This is dense and rounded with a smoky palate, some acidity and tannin, nicely in balance with plenty of promise. It is aged mainly in cement vats, with some old wood, and blended after twelve months.

2006 Ciel Liquide, Côtes du Roussillon Villages – 21€
Jean-Philippe called this un vin mosaique for it is a blend of several different plots, including his oldest Grenache and Carignan, as well as a little Syrah and Mourvèdre. It spent twelve mouth in old demi-muids and two years in concrete vats and was bottled in the summer 2009. The colour is deep and young, with an intense rounded nose and palate. It is very concentrated, but with freshness and minerality. That is the terroir of Calce observed Jean-Philippe.

Thomas Lubbe is the talent behind Domaine Matassa. He was born in South Africa and grew up in Auckland. He first came to Calce in 1999. All his wines are vin de pays. He is very scathing about the appellation Cotes du Roussillon; for him it is synonymous of the wine lake. He wants to concentrate on Calce and the Cotes Catalanes; even better would have been the original vin de pays des Fenouilledes, which covered a more limited part of the Agly valley, but that name has been scrubbed by French officialdom. He is now well-integrated in to village life in Calce, as he married Gerard Gauby’s sister in 2003. He makes four whites and four reds. This is what I tasted.

2008 Three Trees white, Côtes Catalanes – 8.00€ from vineyards at Caudiès de Fenouillèdes, one of the cooler parts of the area. It is a blend of Rolle 40%; Macabeu 50% with just 10% white Carignan, all fermented in concrete vat. The fruit is firm and fresh, with herbal notes, some fleurs blanches and a touch of minerality. There is also a red version, with some exuberantly ripe spicy fruit.

2008 Domaine Matassa, Cuvée Marguerite – 22.€
Half Muscat à petits grains and half Viognier. This was quite intriguing as neither grape variety dominated the palate, even though they both have quite powerful characteristics.. The vinification in oak came into play, and there were touches of fennel on the nose, with mineral notes, and a youthful intense finish.

Domaine Matassa white – 30€ From old vines, Grenache Gris and Macabeu, which have spent 15 months in demi muids. Firm dry fruit on the nose, with some leesy hints, and quite full and oak, almost resinous on the palate. The palate is quite tight knit, but for my taste there is a touch too much oak at the moment.

2006 Cuvee Romanissa -24€
Mainly Grenache, 70%, with some Carignan and Mourvèdre, and a little Cabernet Sauvignon, grown on schist. Rounded smoky fruit, with a certain freshness and stony minerality on the palate. Quite intense berry fruit. Beginning to drink very nicely. Thomas considers that the wines from Calce need a long ageing, two years in demi muids and at least 18 months in bottle.

The same wine in 2007, but without the Cabernet , was firm and intense with a stony minerality. There were layers of flavours, texture and depth and plenty of promise.

Thomas Teifert is the young German behind the new estate of Domaine de l’Horizon in Calce. He came to Calce in 2005, dreaming of vineyards near the Mediterranean, and he assured me that you can indeed see the sea on the horizon from his vineyards. He has 15 hectares altogether in 12 plots in the garrigues around Calce. His first serious vintage was 2007 and he is already receiving accolades, from the Revue du Vin de France amongst others. His white 2008 Côtes Catalanes is a blend of 70 % Macabeu and 30% old Grenache Blanc, grown on limestone and on schist. It is kept in foudres, 5 to 30- hectolitres in size. I found it very intriguing, there is a slightly resinous note, and also some herbal flavours, with a textured mouth feel, and a fresh finish, with minerality and acidity. How will it age is the question.

The same wine in 2007 was heavier on the nose, quite broad and nutty. The 2008 was more elegant, and I thought more successful. Thomas observed this came from the vintage difference, and from the experience of the previous vintage.

His red wine, also Côtes Catalanes, is a blend of two parts Carignan to one part Grenache, and has spent a year in wood. Again it was very intriguing, with some firm mineral notes and a fresh finish, with good fruit, and layers of flavour. It promises well for the future.

Olivier Pithon comes from Coteaux du Layon in the Loire Valley. He came to Roussillon by chance, and stayed. He was looking for a challenge, for vineyards with stones, on hillsides and with old vines,all of which you can find in the Agly Valley. The old vines give you a quality opportunity right from the start. He has six hectares in twenty plots around Calce and Estagel and his first vintage was 2001.

At Millésime Bio he was showing:

2008 Cuvée Laïs Côtes Catalanes, 15.50€ A blend of Macabeu, Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc that are fermented and aged in 500 litre demi-muids. The oak is still quite present, but will tone down with age, and there were some leesy herbal notes on both nose and palate. It was quite rich and powerful with a firm mineral character. And masses of potential.

2007 D18 - 30€ Named after a narrow scenic road that goes out of Calce towards the Col de la Dona. A blend of Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc fermented in 22 hectolitre wooden vats. It is tight knit and intensely mineral, with fresh acidity. Again the potential is considerable.

2009 Mon P’tit Pithon, Côtes Catalanes, 7.50€ This is Olivier’s red entrée de gamme, a pure Grenache Noir, giving fresh ripe fruit and lightly spicy notes on the palate. It is medium weight and all too easy to drink.

2008 Cuvée Laïs rouge, Côtes du Roussillon Villages – 15.50€ A blend of Grenache Noir and Carignan with a little Mourvèdre and Syrah, aged mostly in concrete tanks. This had wonderful minerality. It was tight knit and structured with red berry flavours and a firm minerality, with freshness on the finish, combining power and elegance, and also ageing potential.

2007 Le Pilou, Côtes Catalanes comes from a 75 ares vineyard of 100 year old Carignan. The wine has spent eight months in wooden vats, but despite the oak influence it was intensely mineral, with red berries and smokey fruit, firm and structured. The minerality was the dominant character, so intense that you could almost taste the roche mère, bedrock

Eric Monné at Clot de l’Oum in the village of Bélesta is another relative newcomer to the region. At least he was born in Perpignan, but spends four days a week at the European Patent Office in the Hague. He bought his vines in 1995 and his first vintage was 2001. He has 14 hectares, including just one of white, divided into 30 different plots around Bélesta and Maury.

2008 Côtes du Roussillon blanc, Cine Panetonne – a reference to bad films that come out for Christmas, and a blend of Carignan blanc and Grenache Gris. Intriguing herbal notes on both nose and palate with good acidity on the finish. Aged in old wood for twelve months, which gives body rather than flavour. Fresh and youthful

2008 Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Compagnie des Papillons, which apparently is a children’s game. 13.00€ A blend of Carignan and Grenache Noir, with 12 months élevage in old wood. Deep colour; a solid nose, with ripe concentrated fruit, balanced with tannin and acidity. Ripe and youthful.

2007 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Saint Bart Vieilles Vignes, including a plot of 100 year old Carignan, with 50 – 60 year old Grenache Noir, and rather more youthful 25 year old Syrah, a blend of one third of each, with 15 months in old wood. This is dense and ripe, rounded with spicy fruit. It is eminently gouleyant, but with an edge of tannin, and warmth on the finish. 18.00€

2007 Numéro Uno, 90% Syrah with 10% Carignan and 15 months in old wood. A dense firm spicy notes, with a smokey plate and some mineral notes. A firm structured palate. Long and youthful. Plenty of ageing potential. 28.00€

2007 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Granito Vivo. Mainly 60 year old Carignan grown on pure granite. A deep colour, with some berry fruit and some oak. Rounded dense palate, with spice. The oak has ironed out any edges. You can immediately taste that Carignan is drier and firmer than the Syrah dominant wines.

And that is all from me for little bit, as I am off to Argentina tomorrow night, to taste in their annual wine competition along with eleven other Masters of Wine. But there will be lots more to tell about the Languedoc when I am back in early March.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

GREAT WINES FROM LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON

I had a treat yesterday afternoon. I was asked by the people at the Maison du Languedoc in Cavendish Square to conduct a Sommelier Masterclass of Great Wines from Languedoc-Roussillon. This meant I got to choose the wines; it was tough call, whittling the list down from thirty possibles to just eight – and they were all delicious. And I could have easily chosen another eight – all equally delicious.

This begs the question: what constitutes great wine, and from a region where innovation is the order of the day. I favoured estates with a track record of more than a few years; ideally even a second generation, but that is rare. Ageability is another factor, and then quite simply talented winemaking.

We started with 2008 Mas de Daumas Blanc. You can’t talk about the great wines of the Languedoc without mentioning Mas de Daumas Gassac. It was the creation of Aimé Guibert who set a pioneering example for quality and price in the days when viticulture in the Midi tended to function very much at a subsistence level.

The white Mas de Daumas Gassac is a wonderfully eclectic blend of grape varieties – there is Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Chenin Blanc and tiny quantities of other varieties like Sercial and Petite Arvine. Viognier dominates, with some lovely peachy flavours on nose and palate. It is mouth filling and satisfying, with a slightly sweet finish.

Next came Domaine Gauby Vieilles Vignes Blanc 2007. Gérard Gauby was one of the pioneers of Roussillon, taking his grandfather’s vines out of the coop back in the late 1980s. His white wine is a blend of Macabeu, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc, Grenache Gris and Chardonnay. The Chardonnay vines are only 30 years old, but the others are anything between 50 and 100 years old. There is a hint of oak on the nose, with some firm minerality and fresh acidity on the palate. The wine is still very youthful and will definitely develop with some bottle age.




The reds got off to a brilliant start with a magnum of Domaine de Clovallon, les Pommarèdes 2006. This is Catherine Roque’s best cuvée of Pinot Noir, grown in cool vineyards in the upper reaches of the Orb valley around Bédarieux. It is given some gentle oak ageing and comes from her older vines. It was absolutely delicious, with lovely ripe silky fruit; beautifully balanced and very harmonious, with a freshness on the finish.



Next came Chateau de la Négly, la Falaise 2006, from one of the newer estates of La Clape, the mountainous area near Narbonne that was once an island, until the Aude changed course in the Middle Ages. La Falaise is a blend of Syrah, which is aged in 300 litre barrels, and Grenache Noir, which is kept in a 55 hectolitres wooden vat. The result is very successful; sunshine in a glass, with spice and fruit in equal balance.

Domaine Jean-Michel Alquier, les Bastides 2005. Jean-Michel Alquier’s father, Gérard was one of the pioneers of the Languedoc, planting Syrah in the 1960s and experimenting with barriques in the 1980s. Sadly he died in 1989, and it is his son Jean-Michel who has taken on his father’s mantle of quality, and not to be confused with his brother Frédérique. Les Bastides is a blend of Syrah with some Grenache and a little Mourvèdre and comes from the higher vineyards of the property Jean-Michel maintains that the acidity in the schist of Faugères enables you to fully ripen your grapes and yet retain freshness in your wine. This had some firm leathery spicy fruit on both noise and palate. There is a wonderful depth of flavour on the palate, with a long finish. It needs time, with a long life ahead of it.



Domaine Alain Chabanon, L’Esprit de Font Caude. 2004 This is Alain’s top cuvée, a blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Carignan. The percentages vary with the vintage and the wine spends two years in barrel and a further year in vat. It is still young, with an edge of oak and tannin, There are some wonderful leathery notes, with layers of flavour, and it should continue to age beautifully. Alain aims to combine elegance with balance and I think he has achieved that here.



Clos Centeilles, Capitelle de Centeilles 2000 The Domergues at Clos Centeilles in the Minervois are enthusiastic exponents of the quality of Cinsaut. So often Cinsaut is deemed to be merely suitable for rosé, but treated appropriately – fully ripe grapes, a long cuvaison and no oak – and it will reward you amply. It was a surprise to realise that this wine is ten years old. True, there was a note of maturity on the nose, but with some ripe elegant fruit and an edge of tannin on the finish. Maybe it was beginning to fade a little on the finish, but was delicious none the less.



And we finished with a vin doux, a Maury from the village cooperative, their best cuvée Maury Chabert de Barbera 1985, named after the last defender of the nearby Cathar castle of Quéribus. Its ruins dominate the hillside behind the village. This was everything that good Maury should be, with some intense walnut flavours, with hints of coffee and chocolate. A comparison with fine old tawny port would not be out of place.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

DOMAINE TURNER-PAGEOT

Karen Turner is a bright young Australian whom I first met three or four years ago, on a cellar visit at the Prieuré de St. Jean de Bébian, outside Caux. At that time Bébian was owned by Chantal Lecouty, who has since sold it to Russians, who are allowing Karen full rein at their property. Meanwhile Karen has also started to produce her own wine with her French husband, Emmanuel Pageot. They have five hectares in three different plots around the village of Gabian. All their vines are north facing, except for their Grenache Noir, and on three different soils, schist, argilo-calcaire or clay and limestone, and basalt. Gabian should have been included in the appellation of Faugères, but at the appropriate moment, the mayor of the village, with considerable lack of foresight, said Non. The village has some great vineyard sites. Also the cooperative of Gabian has recently closed down so that a number of its members are now beginning to make their own wine.

2009 Le Blanc – 9.00€ - (not yet bottled)
A blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. Twenty per cent of the blend is fermented on the skins and stalks, with wild yeast, and then the juice is put into in old oak barrels. The rest is fermented in old oak barrels and then put into vat, and then blended after several months. It is a characterful wine; very textured in the mouth, with plenty of fruit, and rounded herbal notes and good balancing acidity. It promises well, with a wonderful note of originality.

2009 La Rupture, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – 16.00€ (still in barrel – one year old oak and to be bottled in March)
A pure Sauvignon; there is still an aroma of young wine, with smokey oak on the nose and palate, and some leesy texture. Again it promises well, with intriguing layers of flavour. I tend not to enthuse about Sauvignon from the Languedoc; it is usually too tropical and flabby, but this is definitely an exception.

2009 Rosé – 7€ (to be bottled mid-February)
This is a blend of 60% Grenache Noir and 40% Syrah, which was saigné after 48 hours, so that the colour is a deep pink, ‘a true clairet’, observed Karen. Indeed it is a serious mouthful of wine, especially for a rosé. It has tannin and acidity, in balance, and ripe raspberry and strawberry fruit. With such weight and texture, it demands food. This is no faint-hearted aperitif wine.

2008 Le Rouge – 11.00€
A blend of 80% Grenache, grown on schist, with Syrah from argilo-calcaire and basalt soils. It was bottled in November, and mostly aged in vat – apart from two barrels of Syrah. It still tastes very young. There is a surprising freshness, with acidity, from the Grenache on a north-facing slope, said Karen. And there is also plenty of fruit, but it needs a little time to settle down.

2008 Carmina Major – 14€
A blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre, the best grapes of each variety, which spend a year in wood, (40% of which is oak) and then time in vat. The colour is deep; the nose redolent of smoky oak and the palate is rich and rounded, with a streak of firm oak, with some satisfying weight and texture. There is plenty of fruit underneath the youthful oakiness. This promises very well.

And we finished with a late harvest Roussanne, Santo, a humble vin de table – 18.00€ for a 50cl bottle. The regulations demand the clumsy mention of vin issu de raisins en surmaturité, in other words, late harvested grapes, but you are not allowed to use that term.. The wine has spent time a couple of years in a barrel and will be bottled in April. Karen explained that she is experimenting with some oxidative processes. On the nose there is delicate honey, and a rounded palate, with refreshing acidity and elegance on the finish. The actual alcohol is 14º, with 21º potential alcohol, and 65 gm/l of residual sugar.

Karen and Emmanuel also produce verjus, a useful cooking ingredient; in 2008 it came from Roussanne and in 2009 from Grenache Noir. – 6.00€ a bottle.

2008 was Karen and Emmanuel’s first vintage. They will be a name to follow.

www.turnerpageot.com

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

CHATEAU LA BARONNE

I still remember my very first visit to Château la Baronne. I was researching French Country Wines in the late 1980s and at the time la Baronne was one of cutting-edge estates of the Corbières, along with Domaine le Voulte-Gasparets and Georges Bertrand at Domaine de Villemajou – it is his son, Gérard, who owns Domaine de l’Hospitalet in la Clape, amongst others. Andre Lignères was a doctor as well as a vigneron. He took me to see the vineyards in spring sunshine, with a backdrop of the Montagne d'Alaric. These days it is his sons, Paul and Jean, who run the 90 hectare estate. Unusually for a Midi estate, they have an Italian consultant oenologist, Stefano Chioccioli, who made his name in Tuscany, but Marc Dubernet, who has done so much to improve the quality of wine-making in the Midi, also advises. I was last at la Baronne in 2005 so it was great to have the chance of an update with Anne Lignères. She talked of the attention they paid to site selection and triage of the grapes. They have been registered with Qualité France for organicx viticulture since 2007.

We began with their white entrée de gamme, 2009 Domaine des Lanes Corbières - 8.00€ a blend of Vermentino and Grenache blanc. 8€
It was quite rounded, with some appealing herbal fruit and a nicely textured palate. They keep it on the lees for a bit, to give it more body. A touch of bitterness on the finish emphasised its youth. Anne explained that their yields are very low, 25 hl/ha at the most. Everything is handpicked; only natural yeast are used, and a minimum of SO2.

2009 Corbières blanc, les Chemins – 12€
Grenache Gris, with15% Roussanne, which is fermented in oak. This is deeper in colour, with lovely herbal notes and fleurs blanches on the nose. I didn’t detect the oak at all; it just fills out the palate, giving some rounded fresh fruit, with more weight than the previous wine. There is no fining or filtering.

2008 las Vals, Vin de Pays de Hauterive – 15€ A pure Roussanne, fermented and aged in barrel. This is still very young. The oak is very apparent, but it is attractive oak, with some herbal notes as well. A multi-layered wine, with lovely texture. I wondered how it would age.

2009 Domaine de Lanes Corbières rosé – 8€. A blend of Mourvèdre and Cinsaut, made by saigné, running off the juice, rather than pressing the grapes. It was redolent of ripe fruit, raspberries and strawberries, and almost sweet, but with refreshing balancing acidity.

2008 Domaine des Lanes Corbières rouge – 8€, a blend of 60% Carignan and 40% Grenache Noir
Deep colour. A rather closed nose initially, but ripe and rounded on the palate with supple tannins. It is kept in vat and they stir the fine lees, which adds more texture.

2008 Chateau la Baronne, les Chemins – 12€ A blend of Grenache Noir, Carignan and a little Mourvèdre, aged in vat.
Ripe spicy fruit on nose and palate. A rounded palate, with a smoky, mineral note and a fresh finish. Supple tannins and lovely mouth feel.

2008 Alaric, Corbières 17.€ 60% Syrah with 20% each of Mourvèdre and Carignan, aged in barriques. Deep colour. Solid rounded nose. An intense palate, ripe, with a firm spicy backbone, and quite a powerful finish. Young. Definitely needs time.

2008 Pièce de Roche, Vin de Pays de Hauterive – 24€
This is pure Carignan, from vines that were planted back in 1892. They produce no more than 20 hl/ha. The wine is aged in barriques, from a cooper that was unknown to me, Darnajou in Montagne St. Emilion. A family business, said Anne, and the wood is very gentle or doux. There was a hint of oak on the nose, and the oak added a touch of spice on the palate. There was some lovely fruit, balanced with very silky tannins, with a long finish. Carignan can sometimes be a touch rustic; this was almost sophisticated in style, and very elegant, with no edges. They produce just 5000 bottles of it.

And we finished with 2008 las Vals, Corbières. 26€ - It is mainly Syrah with some Carignan and Grenache, and aged in wood.
This is young and solid, with closed fruit on the nose, and very dense on the palate, ripe with some spice, with layers and length. It promises well.

www.chateaulabaronne.com

Monday, 1 February 2010

HIGHLIGHTS AT MILLESIME BIO

Millésime Bio is a wonderfully egalitarian wine fair. Everyone gets the same facilities, irrespective of size of estate and power of wallet: namely a large table with a white tablecloth and an unlimited supply of water and ice. There are none of the fancy, and indeed sometimes intimidating stands of Vinisud or Vinexpo. The 400 odd exhibitors are all in one large hall in the Parc des Expositions outside Montpellier. There are wide aisles, so it’s nicely uncrowded, but with all the regions mixed up together, so that you find Provence next to Bordeaux and Burgundy alongside the Languedoc. And it’s a great way to catch up with familiar wine growers and to meet some new ones and taste their wines in pretty relaxed surroundings.
There were numerous highlights for me. Happenstance led me first toChâteau la Baronne in the Corbières; their wines have gone from strength to strength over the last few years, with some wonderfully elegant wines, especially for Corbières, which can sometimes be rather rustic. It is always good to see Hugo Stewart from Les Clos Perdus in Peyriac-de-Mer. Again, he and Paul Old produce a range of Corbières and also some Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes from their second vineyard.
The cutting edge growers of the Fenouillèdes part of Roussillon were well represented, with Thomas Lubbe of Domaine Matassa, Eric Monné of Clot de l’Oum, Olivier Pithon, Jean-Philippe Padié, as well as a new estate, Domaine de l’Horizon, created by a young German, Thomas Teibert with a first vintage in 2007. As coincidence would have it, I was reading Revue des Vins de France in the departure lounge at Gatwick, waiting for a delayed Easyjet flight, and there was a glowing account of Thomas Teibert, so it was great to put the face to the name.
I had a brief excursion into Provence, for the wines of Domaine de la Courtade with Richard Auther from the enchanting island of Poquerolles. Pierre Michelland was there from Domaine de la Realtière in the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and I enjoyed an update with Patricia Ortelli from Château la Calisse in the Coteaux Varois-en-Provence. It has been a good ten years since I lasted visited her property. The same goes for Hildegard Horat at Domaine la Grange de Quatre Sous at Assignan on the edge of St. Chinian. She is one of the very few to grow Petite Arvine, and also Malbec.
I know Karen Turner as the Australian winemaker at the Prieuré de St. Jean de Bébian, but was delighted to have the chance to taste the wines from her own estate, Domaine Turner-Pageot, which she has developed with her French husband, Emmanuel, with their first vintage in 2008. Another discovery was Domaine de Cébène in Faugères, and also Réserve d’O at Arboras in the Terrasses de Larzac.
A chance encounter in the queue for the buffet found me chatting to Gavin Grisfield, the talented winemaker at Domaine de Sauvageonne in the Terrasses de Larzac at St. Jean de la Blaquière. He brought me up to date; he has now left Sauvageonne to concentrate on his own newly created estate of Domaine les Salses. He has four hectares at nearby St. Privat and his first vintage was 2009. I promised to go and visit soon.
As for old favourites, there was Domaine de Clovallon, with the white Aurièges and delicious Faugères; Domaine de Gravillas at St. Jean-de-Minervois, Domaine Cazaban in Cabardès, Château Lascaux from the Pic St. Loup and Daniel le Conte de Floris with his range of original and satisfying reds, not to mention a characterful Carignan blanc, Lune Blanche. I could mention more names, but lists do not make for interesting reading. Suffice it to say that I left after two days feeling that I had only just scratched the surface of what was on offer. And having, hopefully, whetted your appetite, I have good intentions of covering some of these estates in more detail, over the next week or so.