A small group of French Independent Wine Growers came to London earlier in the month, so I checked out those from the Languedoc.
First stop was Julie and Pierre Viudes from Domaine de la Rencontre who make delicious Muscat de Mireval and drier Pays de l’Hérault. 2012 Rencontre was fresh and pithy, with a touch of honey and grapey fruit; Philosophe, which Julie described as Entre Deux, with 28 gms /l residual sugar was lightly honeyed with fresh acidity. Eclat comes from young vines and was honeyed with weight and body on the palate, while l’Hédoniste from older vines was rounded and grapey with fresh honey, and surprisingly less concentrated and explosive than Eclat.
Constance Rerolle was pouring a selection of the wines of the Château de l’Engarran, Grès de Montpellier. I particularly liked the 2011 Château de l’Engarran, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre. Deep colour; a rounded nose and on the palate quite rich with good matière, weight and fruit, and well integrated oak after 18 months in wood.
Next I saw Philippe Modat from Domaine Modat in Roussillon. It had been a while since I tasted his wines, so a good opportunity for an update.
2012 Côtes du Roussillon blanc, De-ci –de-là . 13.00€
Grenache Maccabeu. Partly vinified in new oak. Light nose. Nicely textured palate, with rounded fruit. A hint of fennel and a fresh finish.
2011 Côtes du Roussillon, Caramany, Comme Avant -13.00€
Syrah, Grenache, Carignan. Medium colour. Quite firm spice on nose. A ripe palate, with some tarry fruit and tannins. Youthful Two years ageing in old wood.
2011 Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Caramany, Sans plus attendre. 16.00€
Grenache, Syrah Carignan, 45% aged in wood. Rich spicy nose and on the palate, rich and sweet. Riper and fleshier than Comme Avant
2010 Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Caramany, le Plus Joli. – 38€
Syrah 85% with Carignan planted in 1930. Élevage in barrique. Quite solid with vanilla on the nose. Youthful ripe and rich, and balanced. Lots of fruit, and weight.
Things are evolving. Philippe has been organic since 2007, but will not actually be registered as organic until this year. And then it takes a further year to register as biodynamic with Demeter. He has given up using new wood on this red wine and enthused about the Austrian cooper, Stockinger, who I recently came across for the first time in Faugères.
There was a Malepère producer, Domaine Rose et Paul. I liked a simple Pays d’Oc Merlot best, with some ripe plummy fruit making for easy drinking at 5.50€
Rémi Duchemin was one of two partners who created Mas Mortiès in the Pic St. Loup and is now making wine in the Terrasses du Larzac at Le Plan de l’Homme. He has vineyards in St. Jean de la Blaquière. His first vintage was 2009.
2012 Florès, Languedoc - 9.00€
Roussanne 10% Grenache Quite rounded herbal fruit, with notes of fennel on both nose and palate. Quite intriguing.
2011 Alpha, Languedoc - 21.00€
Roussanne with 20 % Grenache – picked 10 to 14 days later than for Florès. Uses an acacia barrel Light colour. Quite solid nose, with a wood impact. Good acidity, with quite a fresh palate.
2012 Florès red, Languedoc - 9.00€
Oeillade, rather than Cinsau.t with Syrah and Grenache, aged in vat. Medium colour. Quite fresh perfumed fruit and ripe cherry fruit on the palate. Very refreshing.
Habilis, Terrasses du Larzac – 14.00€
Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, old vines and very low yields. Medium colour. Quite firm red fruit, on the palate, structured, red fruit and a fresh finish.
2011 Sapiens, Terrasses du Larzac – 18€
75% Syrah, Grenache and Carignan In two to three year old wood. Deep colour. Firm nose. Quite solid rounded ripe and rich, with well integrated oak.
2011 Alpha, Terrasses du Larzac – 24€
70% Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. A proportion of carbonic maceration and some new oak. Deep colour. Quite solid and rounded, with ripe fruit. Very good body, but not heavy. Lovely fruit.
Rémi is keen on Syrah, so it dominants his two top cuvées. A note to go and visit.
Chateau de Lancyre in the Pic St. Loup
There was a perfumed white wine, a blend of Roussanne 80% with some Marsanne and Viognier. The rosé was crisp and fresh and there were four different reds, which were mostly quite soft and perfumed. I liked the 2012 Pic St. Loup best, with a deep colour and rounded harmonious fruit on nose and palate and some appealing spice. The blend was two thirds Syrah to one third Grenache, from vines planted in the 1970s, and aged in vat. 9.80€
Domaine St. Martin in the village of Leuc makes IGP Cité de Carcassonne and Pays d’Oc. There was a pure Chasan that was lightly peachy, and a Marselan Merlot blend that was too oaky for my taste buds. Another unusual blend was Chenanson Caladoc, and a Merlot Caladoc blend was fruity and easy.
Marie Fabre Teisserenc was pouring fines from the family estates, Famille Fabre in Boutenac. There were some quite gutsy Corbières, but best of all was a Pays d’Oc Sauvignon, with good minerality and acidity and pungent Sauvignon fruit. and for just 5.40€ I don’t usually like Sauvignon from the Midi, but it was refreshing to have my prejudices upset.
Domaine la Provenquière in Capestang produces a large range of Pays d’Oc There was a sympathique 2011 Syrah; a Cabernet Franc Merlot had some rounded fruit and a rosé from Cinsaut, Syrah and Grenache was fresh and crisp with a touch of raspberry, and there was a lightly sappy Vermentino, to mention just a few of the many wines that Brigitte Robert was showing. This is a large estate with 150 hectares.
And after that I allowed myself a deviation or two to Corsica, the Jura and Beaujolais.