I always enjoy the annual Montpeyroux fete. It's a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and also to see what is new. This year it was held on Easter Sunday. After a brilliantly sunny warm week, the weather broke overnight and we awoke to a cold wind and rain, but undeterred, I donned my new waterproof jacket and set off to Montpeyroux. This year there were twenty-two wine growers, just from this one small village.
The newest, Mas de la Fée Nomène, comprises just 90 ares. Nany Taverna is a true garagiste, operating out of her garage on the edge of the village and she made just 3000 bottles for her first vintage in 2012. Her wine is a blend of Carignan, Syrah and Grenache, pressed with a small basket press and aged in a stainless steel vat. It has some lovely fresh fruit on the nose and on the palate, a firm tannic streak, with ripe, youthful fruit and a fresh finish. A lovely debut, and for 12€ a bottle.
Another new estate, for me was le Petit Domaine with Aurélien Petit, except that I had encountered him a week earlier at the bio fair at Domaine de la Tour, but it was sympa to renew the acquaintance. And in any case my tasting buddy, Lits, was keen to try his wines. There's a great Chenin, with rich dry honey, given 24 hours of skin contact and fermented and aged in wood until February. Aurélien makes just two barrels from 25 ares. It has lovely texture and satisfying mouth feel. 18.00€
He makes his Syrah three different ways. There is a long maceration lasting about three weeks, a short five days maceration and some carbonic maceration, for three weeks before pressing the grapes. Each is given a separate élevage and then either blended altogether to make a peppery wine with fresh fruit, 12.00€ or the different components are blended with other varieties as Aurélien sees fit.
So 2013 Cyclops consists of Carignan, without wood ageing and blended with the short maceration Syrah that has spent a couple of months in oak. It is rounded and ripe, with that appealing touch of rusticity that you get from Carignan, combined with a firm streak of tannin. 12.00€
2012 Rhapsody is mainly Carignan, made by carbonic maceration, with a little of the carbonic maceration Syrah. It was not as satisfying as Cyclops, especially at nearly twice the price. 21.00€.
And we finished with Titan, Syrah with a little Carignan, given 12 months ageing in oak, with solid red fruit and a firm structured palate, requiring some bottle age. 24.00€
I renewed my acquaintance with Pascal Dalier from Domaine Joncas. His white wine from Grenache Gris, made in concrete eggs, is rich and satisfying, with white blossom and fresh fruit. 18.00€. There are just 492 bottles
Then Pascal proffered a mystery wine. What do you think this? I was stumped. It was very intriguing; there were herbal notes, and a slight bitterness on the finish, but some good acidity. The answer was Riesling, which you certainly do not expect to find in the Languedoc.
2012 Joia is a blend of 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah, with fresh fruit and some leathery notes, a nice balance of fruit and tannin and an elegant finish. And we finished with Nebla, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with fresh red fruit and firm leathery notes, and more depth than Joia. Pascal now has 8.5 hectares, and a new cellar that I have yet to visit.
Jo Lynch and André Suquet's wines from Villa Dondona were drinking / tasting very well that day. The white Esperel was fresh and leafy; pink Esquisse was delicate and herbal, 2012 Carignan was quite perfumed with a tannic streak; 2012 Villa Dondona was youthful and tight knit, with good fruit, but needing some bottle ageing, and 2011 Oppidum was rounded and oaky with a youthful gutsy finish.
Then Jo sent us off to see her oenologist, Jean Natoli, who is not yet officially Montpeyroux and I am not really meant to write about him in the context of the fete, as he wasn't supposed to be there, so I will save him for a cellar visit - he makes his own wine at Mas des Quernes, as well as running a very efficient oenology cabinet.
Amélie d'Hurlaborde was offering a treat, all three vintages of her old Carignan. 2012 is solid and rounded, quite dense and textured, with ripe fruit and soyeux tannins making for a rounded mouthful of flavour.
2011 has great depth with smoky fruit; it was dense and ripe and like the 2012 will repay bottle ageing. And 2010, her very first vintage has firm fruit with an elegant balance of tannin and a fine finish. And she has her very first vintage of Montpeyroux, from Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, in vat. I can't wait to taste it.
Other delights included Alain Chabanon's Campredon, and 2010 Trélans with some elegant dry honeyed Chenin.
Christine Commeyras from Domaine l'Aiguelière was showing older vintages of Côte Dorée and Côte Rousse, 2009, 2008 and 2006 with my good friend Bernard Bardou helping her on her stand. I've always found these wines quite heavy and solid, but Bernard's enthusiasm was quite catching, so I was prepared to give them a fresh look. They certainly taste younger than the vintages might indicate, with some intense use of oak and notes of black fruit and firm tannins.
We briefly checked out Clos d'Aven. Their first vintage was 2005 and they have just 1.5 hectares. Le Petit Clos is ripe and rounded with dense fruit while 2009 le Clos d'Aven was dry and leathery and 2010 Balzac Noir had ripe vanilla fruit with a firm tannic streak and an intense finish. I liked le Petit Clos best.
Le Mas de Bertrand was another new name, to me, and is associated with Domaine de la Malavieille. A general favourable impression but by this time my notes are getting a little illegible –There is an intriguing white wine, a Vin de France, a blend of Chenin blanc and Petit Manseng,that is more commonly found in Jurancon, which had some dry honey with balancing acidity. 9.80€.
Cuvée Louise is a Carignan blanc, with a touch of honey and firm acidity, with an élevage in concrete eggs. The rosé, a blend of seven different varieties Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre and Portan (a cross of Grenache Noir and Blauer Portugieser) is rounded with some ripe strawberry fruit.
Le 5 is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre with some rounded fruit and a firm, but harmonious streak of tannin. A nice Montpeyroux.
And we briefly dived into Sylvain Fadat's cellar where he was offering older vintages By this time, we were beginning to suffer from palate fatigue, but nonetheless we still managed to appreciate 2006 Cocalières blanc which was herbal with resinous notes and very intriguing. 2004 Montpeyroux was firm and leathery and 2003 l'Authentique a blend of Mourvèdre and Carignan was firm and intense, with the weight of that warm vintage.
There were other estates that I did taste that were not showing so well on the day. Domaine de Grécaux was not very expressive. I’ve liked Ivo Ferreira’s wines from Domaine l’Escarpolette on previous occasions, but on Easter Sunday they just didn’t sing. Domaine de Clementine, I didn’t know and don’t feel inclined to know better. And I expected better from Christopher Johnson Gilbert’s Domaine Cinq Vents. His first vintage of red, 2010 was very oaky for my taste, and the 2012 rosé was a bit stalky.
And then it was time for some restorative barbecued saucisse with aligot. We sat in the market square, trying to keep dry, and warm. A bare chested man was bravely be sporting himself as Bacchus and there were other musical antics for our entertainment. And then it was time to go home, and warm up!