The Vinifilles are a group of eighteen energetic, enthusiastic and friendly lady winemakers. I asked Caryl Panman how she came to be a member: 'somebody invited me to a meeting, and it went from there'. And on the Sunday evening before the start of the fair, the Vinfilles hosted a soirée, with an opportunity to taste their wines and enjoy some Occitan music. I have to say I use the word enjoy with certain reservations in the case of the music, but the wines were great. What follows are some highlights, though tasting conditions were not ideal, so my notes are not very detailed. Each vigneronne presented three wines and I have generally selected the one I liked best
I kicked off with a hallo to Françoise Ollier and a taste of 2010 Allegro Faugères Blanc.
Delicate, leafy. Nice fruit and a rounded palate. Just as Allegro should be.
Next some Limoux from Françoise Antech
A characterful Blanquette de Limoux Brut Nature. So no dosage. Quite rounded with good acidity. Some herbal hints on the nose. Quite a firm finish.
Domaine de Roquemale at Villeveyrac, with Valerie Tabaries-Ibanez
2010 Lema Rouge, Grès de Montpellier
A blend of Syrah and Grenache. Deep colour, quite a firm but rounded nose. Quite a ripe juicy palate; quite confit with good fruit.
La Grange des Quatre Sous, with Hildegaard Horat at Assignan, in the appellation of St. Chinian, but she is not mainstream and so makes vins de pays rather the appellation.
2010 Le Jeu du Mail Blanc, a blend of Viognier 55% and Marsanne 45%, aged in oak. Quite rounded and leesy, with a lemony hint. Some peachy notes on the palate, with some white blossom. Quite rich and textured.
La Réserve d’O at Arboras with Marie Chauffray
2011 SansSoo rouge, St. Saturnin
Deep young colour; very ripe cherry fruit, a streak of tannin balancing ripe but fresh fruit. Very succulent. Marie also makes two Terrasses du Larzac, La Réserve d’O and Hissez O, both with some lovely fruit.
Mas des Dames with Lidewej van Wilgen
2010 La Dame Rouge, Languedoc.
Quite a rounded nose, with spicy leathery notes on both nose and palate. Supple tannins, with a bite on the finish. Youthful and balanced
Château Beaubois at Franqevaux in the Gard, with Fanny Molinié Boyer
2010 Confidence Rouge, Costières de Nimes
Quite rounded spicy easy fruit. A nice leathery note. I tend to think of Costières de Nimes as the Beaujolais of the Languedoc, and that is meant to be a compliment. I am talking about real Beaujolais, not wines that taste of bonbons anglais, but wines that offer sheer pleasure, with lovely accessible fruit.
Domaine la Jasse Castel at Montpeyroux, with Pascale Rivière
2010 La Pimpanela rouge, Montpeyroux
Quite a firm nose, with a rounded palate with good fruit.
Domaine des Tremières at Nébian, with Bernadette Rouquette
2009 Patience rouge, Languedoc. Bernadette also makes various vins de pays as well as Terrasses du Larzac.
Quite a rounded nose with lots of fruits rouges. Ripe and spicy palate with good fruit and a tannic streak. A lovely ray of sunshine on a cold February evening.
Mas Champart in St. Chinian with Isabelle Champart. Isabelle’s white was showing very nicely.
2010 St. Chinian Blanc. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc and Marsanne.
Delicate herbal nose, quite elegant on the palate with ripe white blossom fruit. Rounded with good acidity.
Clos des Nines at Fabregues (in other words near Montpellier airport) with Isabelle Mangeart, with a range of appellation Languedoc as the vineyards are not part of any of the various crus.
2010 L’Orée rouge, a blend of 50% Grenache, with 25% each of Syrah and Cinsaut. A leathery edge on the palate balanced with some nice fruit. Some supple fruit with a firm streak. Still quite young. Good potential. Cuvée O du Clos was quite rich and oaky while the white Obladie is a blend of Vermentino, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, with some peachy oak.
Château La Dournie in St. Chinian with Véronique Etienne
2008 Elise rouge, St. Chinian. A selected plot of Syrah, with 20% Grenache. Spends a year in wood. Quite solid and rounded, with ripe spicy fruit on both nose and palate. The oak needs to tone down a bit, but some good fruit and body.
Château Coupe-Roses, in La Caunette in the Minervois, with Françoise le Calvez Frissant
2009 Orience, Minervois
Deep colour. Quite a firm solid oaky nose, and on the palate, rounded, dense and oaky. Rich and sturdy. Needs time.
Mas Thélème, at Lauret in the Pic St. Loup with Fabienne Bruguière
2007 Exultet rouge, Pic St. Loup
Quite a solid dense ripe oaky nose and palate. A big mouthful of fruit and tannins. Good fruit but quite sturdy. Possibly not as elegant as some Pic St. Loup.
Château de l’Ou at Montescot in the Pyrénées-Orientales, with Séverine Bourrier. She makes Côtes Catalanes, and had three wines, all from Syrah, grown on three different terroirs, black schist, red schist and marnes, or marl, and all aged in barrel. They tasted quite different.
2010 Infiniment, grown on marnes was the most elegant. It was fresh with good fruit and some appealing spice
2010 Velours Noirs, on black schist was quite firm and leathery. There were peppery notes and some firm tannins. Medium weight.
2010 Secrets de Schists, from red schist. Dense colour. Very perfumed nose. Quite confit, with ripe perfumed fruit. Quite supple, and also quite alcoholic on the finish.
Château de Rey in Canet-en-Roussillon with Cathy Sisqueille
2011 Muscat de Rivesaltes. A mouthful of sweet fruit which was quite a relief after so many red wines. Rounded ripe and grapey.
Domaine Pietri-Géraud in Collioure with Laetitia Pietri-Clara, who was showing both Collioure and Banyuls.
2003 Banyuls Traditionnel, Cuvée Joseph Géraud.
Dry walnuts on the nose, and more walnuts on the palate, with some fruit rouges. A delicious finale to the tasting.
And an apology to my friend Caryl Panman for not tasting any of her wines – partly as I had visited Château Rives-Blanques relatively recently. Anyway we caught up the next day and Caryl thrust a glass of 2011 Chenin at me. She wasn’t sure what they were going to do with it, blend it or keep it as a mono-cépage, but it tasted absolutely delicious, with lovely dry honey balanced with good acidity.