Easter Sunday was the day of the annual Montpeyroux caveaux ouverts. It is always a fun occasion, but certainly not one for any serious tasting, so instead I said hallo to a few friends and arranged to come back later in the week for a couple of cellar visits.
In the case of Sylvain Fadat of Domaine d'Aupilhac serious tasting entailed a comparison of older vintages of his two key wines, Les Cocalières and Cuvée Aupilhac, which used to be labelled Cuvée Montpeyroux. Both vineyards are in the commune of Montpeyroux, but Aupilhac is on lower and richer land, while les Cocalières is a vineyard that Sylvain planted in 2000, clearing garrigue on poor limestone soil, at an altitude of 350 metres as opposed to 150 metres for Aupilhac. And the differences in the glass were palpable. The Aupilhac was richer and leathery while les Cocalières which includes some north-facing Syrah as well as Grenache and Mourvèdre, was fresher and more perfumed, even from the hot year of 2003. It is ripe at 13.5° as opposed to 14.5° for Aupilhac. Then we tried a pair of 2006s, which was a more normal vintage, but with the wines still displaying a similar contrast of style. Again, Aupilhac was richer and more leathery with lots of black fruit while les Cocalières was fresher and more elegant with the perfume of the surrounding garrigues. And we finished with a blend of the two vineyards, la Boda, again 2006, which had also aged beautifully with some mature notes of cassis and leather. But I still have a petit faible for les Cocalières. So that afternoon we followed the way-marked walk of le Castellas de Montpeyroux which takes you towards the village of Arboras and then round past the hill of les Cocalières, so that we could admire the amphitheatre of Sylvain's vines. They are above the canyon of Joncas which gives its name to another fine estate. The path then led back into MOntpeyroux past the ruins of the castle outside the hamlet of le Barry.
Two days later we were in a restaurant in Montpelier, chez Boris on the boulevard Sarrail near the Musée Fabre, which has an excellent Languedoc list, with well over 100 wines. And what did we choose, but 2014 les Cocalières which was simply delicious and went beautifully with an andouillette, that was no ordinary andouillette but a AAAAA, produced by a member of the Association Amicale des Amateurs de l’Andouillette Authentique.