A fat magazine thudded through my letterbox. It was the October issue of Decanter with all the results of this year's World Wine Awards. And naturally I turned to Languedoc Roussillon to remind myself just which wines had won what.
There were four regional trophies from the Languedoc, namely :
Red Under £15 went to 2008 Château Trillol in the Corbières - see my earlier blog on this lovely estate
Red over £15 was won by 2011 Château Camplazens, Premium, la Clape . Also see an early posting.
And the trophy for the Fortified White over £15 went to Domaine de Rancy for a fabulous 1993 Rivesaltes Ambré. These wines are so under-rated; they deserve a serious revival. Again see an earlier post.
And that left Fortant de France Réserve des Grands Mont Carignan, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault. As a panel we were thrilled to give a trophy to a Carignan, as it demonstrated just how good Carignan can be when it comes from low-yielding old vines and is carefully vinified. And this was a lovely example.
The Fortant de France brand was launched by Robert Skalli in 1988, with a pioneering range of varietal Vins de Pays d’Oc. Then in 2011 it was bought by Boisset of Burgundy, and the decision was taken to redevelop the brand from scratch, with an emphasis on the varied terroirs of the Languedoc. They see Carignan as the emblematic grape variety of the Languedoc. The grapes come from the high hills of Minervois and Corbières, which provide some of the most challenging terroir of the Languedoc. These are old vines grown on clay and limestone, with low yields. The wine-making is meticulous, and entails some carbonic maceration in vat, as well as a more conventional fermentation, and some ageing in 600-litre barrels, in preference to smaller barriques. A small part of the blend is also kept in concrete eggs, in order to achieve a very natural and slow bâtonnage. 2011 is the first vintage of this wine, and it really is a stunning example of the current revival in the fortunes of Carignan.
And now the Gold medals. There was a totally unknown (to me) Blanquette de Limoux, called Manny O, Celebrus Brut. I have never heard of this label and have been quite unable to find out any more about it. All leads result in a blank .....
I really enjoyed the two silver medals from Limoux, both from Domaine J Laurens, one of my favourite producers, with Le Moulin, Blanquette de Limoux and les Graimenous, Crémant de Limoux 2011. Both delicious and stylish.
Another red wine made Gold, namely Château la Sauvageonne, Cuvée les Ruffes. This is a Terrasses du Larzac property that has recently been taken over by Gérard Bertrand.
Sadly no white wine was quite good enough for a Gold, but there were three very convincing silvers, namely L’Impertinent from Château des Estanilles in Faugères. This was a pioneering estate under the ownership of Michel Louison, and recently sold to Julien Seydoux. So it looks as though he is achieving good things.
Domaine Belles Pierres has a good reputation for finely crafted white wines in the hands of Damien Coste, and his 2011 les Clauzes de Jo is a lovely blend of Roussanne, Viognier and a splash of Grenache Blanc. .
And finally a Picpoul de Pinet from Domaine Delsol, which is part of Vignobles Foncalieu, This was everything that good Picpoul should be, salty and sappy.
There was just two Silver rosés, from Château des Karentes in la Clape and from Domaine de Montrose in the Côtes de Thongue.
And you might expect, there was a solid raft of silver reds. Highlights included several St. Chinian from the excellent coop at Roquebrun. Château Ste Eulalie in the Minervois achieved two silvers for la Cantilène and for their Grand Vin. Gérard Bertrand and Domaines Paul Mas were in the line up, as well as smaller estates, Mas Gabriel for les Trois Terrasses, Mas du Soleilla, les Fusionels in Faugères, Chateau Rouquette sur Mer and Domaine de l’Arjolle. And there were three estates that were completely unknown to me, Clos des Vins d’Amour and Domaine de Venus from Roussillon, and Château Portal in the Minervois.
And the final silver was for a fortified wine, a delicious 2011 red Banyuls from Abbé Rous, otherwise known as the coop in Banyuls. So all in all, some good results, and some delicious drinking.