A tasting of St.. Chinian at the Maison du Languedoc seems to be becoming an annual event, but with a slightly different cast list each year.
First I tasted some prize winners from an annual competition, which did indeed show St. Chinian at its best, with one or two exceptions. It is an appellation that I enjoy enormously. The best wines are supple and spicy, with ripe fruit and some tannin, but not too much.
2011 Mas Champart. Blanc
A lone white wine. Quite a delicate nose. Rounded white blossom on the nose. A touch of oak and quite a solid mouth filling palate
2009 Mas Cynanque, Acutum
Deep young colour. Quite rounded, ripe and oaky on the nose, and on the palate a satisfying balance of rich fruit
2008 Château Milhau Lacugue, les Curées
Ripe spicy fruit. Medium weight palate. Quite supple and ripe, with an elegant finish.
2009 Domaine du Tabatau, les Titous
Medium colour. A touch of brett on the nose. And more austere than most of the others on the palate, Quite a structured palate, with drier fruit.
2009 Domaine Galtier, L’Accompli
Quite a deep colour. Quite a firm leathery nose, and on the palate a rather curious balance; a touch green and a tad sweet and sour. I was less enamoured of this.
2010 Comte de Lorgeril, les Pins
Deep colour. Ripe spice on the nose. And on the palate quite ripe and rounded with some spice and a touch of oak.
2010 Borie la Vitarèle, Midi Rouge
Quite a deep colour; quite firm and leathery on the nose, with ripe, rounded fruit on the palate. Satisfyingly mouth filling. This was one of my favourites
2009 Domaine Moulinier, les Terrasses Grillées
Good colour. Quite a firm oaky nose. Quite a solid palate, with quite a tannic edge and just a hint hollow in the middle.
2010 Domaine la Liquière, la Sentinelle
Quite a deep colour. Quite ripe and rounded with some leathery tapenade fruit on the palate and some lovely spice. Another favourite.
2010 Château Viranel
Medium colour. Some dry spice on nose and palate. Medium weight and easy drinking.
2009 Domaine du Sacré Coeur, Jean Madoré.
This cuvée is named after a grandfather. Medium colour. A rounded nose. And on the palate, ripe with some leathery notes and a dry finish.
2008 Laurent Miquel, Bardou
Medium colour. Quite firm and leathery on the nose. Good structure on the palate, with youthful fruit.
2009 Cave de St. Chinian, Esprit Renaud de Valon
Medium colour. Quite ripe and spicy on the nose. And on the palate; rounded ripe fruit, with oak and tannin.
And then there were various wine growers showing their wines. I selected a highlight from each estate whose wines I enjoyed.
2010 Clos Bagatelle, Donnadieu, Mathieu Marie
A blend of 50% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% each of Grenache and Carignan. Medium colour. Quite a firm leathery nose. Medium weight palate, with dry spice and a youthful finish. Promises well.
2009 Chateau Bousquette, Prestige, with Isabelle Perret
90% Syrah, with 10% Grenache. Quite deep colour; quite rounded tapenade notes on the nose. Medium weight palate, with a smoky note.
2011 Château de Combebelle, with Catherine Wallace
60% Syrah and 40% Grenache.
Soft ripe and easy; no great depth; youthful Midi sunshine in a glass. Catherine observed that it had been a difficult vintage for her.
2011 Château la Dournie, with Véronique Etienne - 6.60€
A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. Quite light colour. Light fruit on nose and palate. Medium weight. Lovely immediate appeal for easy drinking – and more Midi sunshine in a glass, which is what you need on a grey day in London. I enjoyed Véronique’s other cuvées as well, but have promised to visit, so more anon.
2009 Domaine la Madura, Grand Vin, with Cyril Bourgne
This is one of my favourite St. Chinian. A very precise blend of 38% Mourvèdre, 43% Syrah, 12% Carignan and 7% Grenache. This is serious St. Chinian. The nose is quite solid and stony and on the palate you detect the oak ageing and the fruit is dense and youthful. It is finely crafted and will age beautifully.
2010 Domaine du Maurine Rouge, les Galopins, with Carole and Sébastien Collot
50% each of Grenache and Carignan; the Grenache is 40 years old and the Carignan an octogenarian. Medium colour; quite firm nose, with a dry leathery note on the palate, with some attractive fruit, balanced with a streak of tannin, and quite a firm finish. Medium weight. This is a new estate to me; they also make Viognier and other cuvées of St. Chinian.
2003 Domaine de Pech Ménel with Elisabeth Poux
50% Carignan vinified by carbonic maceration with 35% Syrah and 15% Grenache. It was a treat to have a wine that was almost ten years old and which amply illustrated the ageing potential of St. Chinian. Elisabeth explained that the yields were small, 15 hl/ha, and the nose was quite solid and rounded, with ripe fruit and the intense flavours of the herbs of the garrigues on the palate. It clocked up 14º which is not that excessive, especially in view of the hot summer, but there was a touch of alcohol on the finish, and also the sense of warm sunshine. Elisabeth has offered a vertical tasting, which is an invitation that I cannot refuse, so more on Pech Ménel in due course.
2008 Château du Prieuré des Mourgues, – with Jérôme Roger
35% Syrah with 30% Grenache and 35% Mourvèdre. Medium colour. Quite a firm peppery nose. And on the palate some rounded, ripe fruit and appealing spice. Lovely balance and a great example of St. Chinian.
Domaine Rimbert should have been there, but sadly pulled out at the last minute. I was disappointed as it has been a long while since I tasted his wines and I was looking forward to catching up. I’ll just have to go over to Berlou instead.
And the tasting finished with wines from the Cave de Roquebrun, which is generally considered to be the best coop of the appellation. The wine that stood out on the day was
2010 St. Chinian Roquebrun, Roches Noires.
A blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. Roquebrun is one of the two crus of St. Chinian, with vineyards on schist. Quite rounded and ripe, medium weight with spice on the palate and a touch of tannin.