I came across a new wine shop the other day. I had been tasting wine in Cabardès and on my last cellar visit, chez Guilhem Barré, he mentioned that Adrian Mould, a cheerful Englishman, who used to run the syndicat for the wines of Cabardès, now has a shop in the little village of Montolieu. So we went to investigate. Fortunately Adrian does not keep French hours; his shop was still open at 1 p.m. but when we accepted the offer of a tasting, he turned the sign on the door to ‘Fermé’ and we adjourned to his tiny cellar that is crammed with bottles.
Let’s stay local, he suggested. I had visited a few Cabardès producers in the preceding two days, but had omitted a couple of Adrian’s favourites, so that oversight needed to be remedied. First we tried Château Jouclary’s 2015 Sauvignon - 5.40 euros. It was fresh and pithy, a bit stalky, but with some pungent fruit. A simple glass of Sauvignon. Next came Château Jouclary’s 2014 Cabardès Cuvée Tradition, a blend of more or less equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache. I thought this was brilliant value for 6.00 euros with some ripe spicy supple fruit on both nose and palate, with some cedary notes and a nicely harmonious finish. 2014 Château Jouclary, les Amandiers a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Grenache Noir and a little Cabernet Franc, for 8.80 euros, was more serious and structured,with firmer tannins and youthful fruit. Another good glass of wine.
Château la Bastide Rouge Peyre was a new name for me. It belongs to Dominique de Lorgeril, the brother of Nicolas who owns the large estate of Château Pennautier. The 2014 vintage was firm and oaky on nose and palate, with some cedary notes and youthful structure In contrast 2011 Château Salitis, a blend of more or less equal parts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache, was riper and more rounded, but with an almost sweet finish and some Mediterranean warmth. Adrian observed that 2011 is a much warmer vintage than 2014. 2010 Château Salitis, Cuvée des Dieux had some rather dominant oak on the nose, but less so on the palate, which was ripe and concentrated.
And then we checked out a pair of Malepère, namely 2014 Domaine Girard - 6.90 euros - a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France and Malbec. Unlike Cabardès, you do not need the Mediterranean component. Deep young colour, with and rounded cassis fruit and oak on the nose with quite firm fruit and a tannic streak on the palate. There was a slight vegetal note that is typical of Malepère. And we finished with 2011 Domaine de la Sapinière, Cuvée Archibald, with quite a firm oaky nose and palate; it was more tannic and also more acidic, and I found that the oak jarred slightly, even though the palate was more solid. But all in all, a fun encounter. And Adrian’s shop is well worth a visit, especially if you enjoy talking to somebody who has a perceptive appreciation of the Languedoc and its many foibles. And he is sure to have a bottle or two available for tasting.