I spent a couple of days at Millésime Bio last month. This organic wine fair in Montpellier has grown enormously since my last visit three years ago, when it filled just one hall. This year it covered two enormous halls. And some figures to illustrate just how organic viticulture has grown in the Languedoc: In 2001 there were 279 organic wine estates cultivating 3764 hectares; in 2011 there were 1199 estates with 19,907 hectares, and I encountered several people for whom 2012 was their first organic vintage, so the numbers are growing. The formula is still the same: everyone has a table, a white table cloth and glasses. It is all very egalitarian and refreshingly devoid of fancy stands. It is very easy to wander round saying hallo to friends, and I have to admit that is just what I did for quite a lot of the time, as it is a great way of catching up with a lot of people, and their wines, in a relatively short space of time.
However, I did taste all the Languedoc Roussillon medal winners, with an occasional deviation into Provence, from a competition held in the autumn and what follows are my highlights, in no particular order. And I realised afterwards that not every medal winner was available for tasting.
2011 Figure Libre, Domaine Gayda, Cabernet Franc, Pays d’Oc Gold
Lovely ripe fruit on the nose, and on the palate more rounded red fruit with a hint of vanilla and oak. Very gouleyant, with a tannic streak.
2011 Domaine de la Fourmi, Gris de Gris, Sables du Golfe du Lion - Gold
A rich orange pink colour. Quite a rounded, soft fruity nose, and on the palate ripe and supple. This is a new (to me) estate from the Sables du Golfe du Lion, or Sable de Camargue, as that area has just been renamed, which is dominated by the enormous producer, Listel
2008 Blanquette de Limoux, Cuvée Tradition, Domaine Delmas - Bronze
A Blanquette with character. Rounded and ripe, with some yeast autolysis and satisfying leesy notes and a full rich palate.
2011 Les Tannes, Chardonnay, Pays d’Oc, Domaines Paul Mas – 6.50€ Silver
Light golden colour. Quite a rounded nose, with ripe, leesy Chardonnay fruit on the nose and palate. Some oak ageing. Nicely balanced.
2010 Faugères, Domaine de Cébène, Felgaria. – Gold
Medium colour. Dry spice on the nose, and some fresh peppery fruit on the palate. Very good balance with lovely elegance. Mourvèdre is the main grape variety, with some Syrah and Grenache.
2011 Domaine Fond Cyprès, Lo Syrah de la Pinède, Vin de France. – Gold
Quite a firm nose, with a touch of reduction, but a very expressive palate, rich and peppery with some lovely fruit. From Escales, a village in the Aude. Might be worth a visit.
2011 Mas de la Rime, Coteaux du Languedoc. – Gold
Quite a perfumed nose; a ripe palate with some oak. Quite rich flavours. This is a new estate: M. Sala bought some vines from his neighbour, at Domaine de la Prose and enjoyed Bertrand de Mortillet’s expertise for his first vintage. This promises well.
2011 Mas Gabriel, Trois Terrasses – Gold
Firm closed nose, with a solid ripe palate, with some spice. Medium weight and youthful. Needs time.
2010 Chateau de l’Ou, Côtes du Roussillon – Bronze
Quite a firm nose, with a rounded, ripe palate, rich and southern, with some tannin. Mouth filling.
2010 Domaine de Gabelas, St. Chinian, Terres Rouges – 8.50€ Bronze
Good colour. Ripe spicy palate and nose. Rounded and ripe and very gouleyant.
2011 Domaine de la Patience, Costières de Nîmes, Nemousa – 5.10€ - Bronze
Medium colour. Rounded spice on the nose, and lovely ripe fruit and spice on the palate. Very gouleyant.
2009 Mas de Gourgonnier, les Baux de Provence, Clés du Paradis – 16.60€ Silver
Quite a firm streak of oak, and a structured palate. The notes attached to the bottles said nine months élevage in demi-muids. Quite smoky with youthful fruit and plenty of promise.
2007 Chateau Miraval, Cotes de Provence. Play Bach - 13.20€ - Silver
Medium colour. Quite rounded nose, with a meaty, viandé note on the palate, with supple tannins. Quite a ripe finish.
2011 Domaine Costes-Cirques, St Cyr. in the Gard – 11.00€ - Silver
Quite a rounded ripe nose, with perfumed fruit on the palate. Very gouleyant but with some body and substance.
2009 Domaine Baillat, Cuvée Emilien Baillat, Corbières – Silver
Good colour. A rounded nose, with ripe spice on the palate, and a tannic edge. Mouth filling and youthful.
2011 Faugères, Domaine de Cébène, Felgaria - Silver
Quite a firm nose. Rounded ripe fruit on the palate, with richness and spice. Medium weight. Promises well.
2011 Domaine Coston, Terrasses du Larzac, les Garrigoles - Gold
Quite rounded, ripe spicy and a deliciously gouleyant palate
2011 Domaine de l’Attilon, IGP Méditerranée, Merlot. – 5.20€ Gold
I don’t usually like Merlot from the Midi, but this was an exception, with some ripe plummy fruit and sufficient backbone. Easy drinking. .