I have slight reservations about large wine fairs, but somehow Millésime Bio is different. For a start everyone is there for the same reason – they believe fervently in organic viticulture, which generates an inspiring buzz of enthusiasm. And it is wonderfully egalitarian. No one is allowed a fancy stand. You get a table with a pristine white table cloth; unlimited clean glasses and unlimited ice – and that is it. So you can find Jeanjean, one of the biggest players of Languedoc, bang opposite Domaine Ste Cécile du Parc, which is one of the newest producers, with a first organic vintage in 2013.
And the fair had grown since last year, when it fitted into two halls. This year it had spilled over into a third hall. And although there are probably more Languedoc Roussillon producers than any other region, other appellations and countries are well represented. I allowed myself deviations into Tuscany with Sassotondo, Chablis with Hélène and Didier Defaix. A friend recommended a Côte Roannaise producer, Domaine des Pothiers, for some delicious Gamay as well as an unusual Pinot Gris. And I could not resist Richard Doughty’s wonderfully honeyed Saussignac from Domaine Richard by way of a final bonne bouche.
As for Languedoc highlights, things kicked off on Sunday evening with The Outsiders’ tasting. Some, but by no means all, are organic – and there were some lovely wines. See my previous post. Michael Smith had organised a conference on Carignan – more on that anon. I tasted the Languedoc prize winners from the annual competition, Challenge Millésime Bio, and there was a wine growers’ dinner at a new restaurant in Palavas-les-Flots.
But above all it is a great opportunity to catch up with the latest vintages of old favourites and to try some new producers. Amongst old favourites I counted Domaine Monplézy, but with two new wines, Plaisirs Blanc and Emoción Rosé. Domaine Begude in Limoux has a new wine, a Grüner Veltliner, a grape variety that is more usually found in Austria. Château de Lascaux, long established in the Pic St. Loup was pouring a stunning 2012 Cuvée Carra.
I enjoyed the first organic wines from Chateau Ste Cécile du Parc as well as some lovely St. Chinian from Domaine Borie la Vitarèle – it is age since I did a cellar visit there. Pierre Clavel was showing a very stylish range of wines – he now has vineyards in Pic St. Loup, as well as Méjanelle, and straight Languedoc AC. Jean-Louis Denois, one of the maverick wine makers of Limoux was in fine voice, with wines to accompany his opinions.
Villa Symposia in Aspiran is now owned by Eric Prisette, who used to make wine in Bordeaux at Château Rol Valentin. I enjoyed a catch up with Hugo at Les Clos Perdus in the Corbières and with Thierry Hazard at Domaine de la Marfée, and promised Bertie Eden at Château Maris in the Minervois that I would go and see his new cellar.
Remy Pédreno at Roc d’Anglade was pouring an intriguing Reserva Especial No 2, a blend of four vintages, made almost as a solera. Just 240 bottles are imported to the UK. And his more conventional 2012 rouge promises beautifully. 2011 Le Démon du Midi from Villa Tempora also promises well, as do some serious 2013s from Domaine la Tour Boisée in the Minervois. 2013 is their first vintage as organic wine growers and they were ticked off for having bottles of the 2012 vintage on their table, just to show the labels, even though they were not open, in order to show the presentation
I tasted a relative newcomer to St. Georges d’Orques, Mas de la Rime and the wines of the not so new owners of Domaine Mortiès in the Pic St. Loup. And I allowed myself several very enjoyable deviations into Provence, for Château d’Estoublon and Château Romanin in les Baux, Domaine de Valdition in the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Château Léoube in the Côtes de Provence and, last but least, Château la Canorgue, once a pioneering, but now a well-established estate in the Côtes du Lubéron.