I fear I have been neglecting my blog in recent weeks – my excuse is my forthcoming book on The wines of the Languedoc. Having met my end of November deadline, I was then told that it was too long and needed pruning, down from 146,000 words to 120,000 words. As you can imagine, it was a rather painful experience and several wine estates that I would have liked to include in the book, were unavoidably deleted. Despite some stringent tightening up of prose – only two well chosen adjectives rather than four less well chosen ones – there was no other way to shorten the text. But I do not want ignore those wine growers completely, or waste my purple prose, so am planning to use my blog over the next few weeks to post about the vignerons who would have been in the book, if only space had allowed.
So beginning in Cabardès, with Château de Brau.
Situated outside the village of Villemoustaussou, Château de Brau is the property of Wenny and Gabriel Tari. Wenny explained how her father-in-law had bought the property in the early 1960s when he returned to France from Morocco, where he had also been a winemaker. She and her husband took over in 1982 and bottled their first wine in 1986; her father-in-law had only ever sold wine en vrac. Although they have 40 hectares of vines but only 15 are Cabardès; in addition, they make a large range of varietal IGPs. I have Wenny to thank for my first taste of Egiodola, which is a crossing of Fer Servadou, and Abouriou, which you find more commonly in the Côtes du Marmandais. As it has such intense fruit and colour, they make it like a rosé, with very short skin contact, so that the palate is quite rich, with a firm sturdy tannic streak.
As for their Cabardès, their rosé is a refreshing blend of equal parts of Syrah and Cabernet Franc. There are three red Cabardès, Cuvée Château, a blend of 50% Syrah, with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, which is aged in vat. The nose smelt quite Mediterranean with some spice, whereas the palate seemed more bordelais, with some firm structure. That is the charm of Cabardès, its ability to resemble Bordeaux or the Languedoc, depending on the mood. Next came Cuvée Exquise, which is a more complicated blend, with 30% each of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Grenache Noir, with some oak ageing. This seemed quite bordelais in character with some cedary notes on both nose and palate. Finally, Le Suc de Brau, their best cuvée, comes from equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, aged in oak Again Bordeaux seemed the dominant flavour with some elegant cedary fruit on a wine that was four years old.