Nicolas Maury is one of the newer younger vignerons of Faugères, albeit the 5th generation on the estate at Coudigno and it had been a while since my last visit to his cellar, so it was high time for an update. It was really encouraging to see how he and his wines had evolved over the last couple of years. He is very articulate and sensitive and talks about his work with great perception. The cellar had progressed since my last visit too, with more barrels, vats and new flooring. And he has employed his sister, Lise, as his administrative assistant, which makes life very much easier. His father is president of the Faugères cooperative and has never actually made wine, preferring to care for his vines.
Nicolas is still using his grandfather’s old basket press, which was originally bought to make a little Muscat. It takes about 10 hectos, and works very slowly and gently, giving good results, but it is time-consuming. There is a small cool barrel cellar, now with 11 barrels: Nicolas started with just two for his first harvest. He favours a chauffe moyenne for his barrels and prefers finer grained oak. He is trying François Frères and Seguin Moreau among others and working out what suits his wines best.
Having started with 4 hectares for his first harvest, which his father took out of the cooperative, he now has 7 hectares, increasing gradually, to ten hectares, with two plots of Syrah and some Carignan, You really need to about 10 - 20 hectares to make a decent living. Fortunately there is another building next to his cellar into which he can expand, as necessary. He has some Carignan that was planted in 1901, as well as some Syrah that is amongst the very first Syrah planted in Faugères 40 or 45 years ago, and some Cinsaut that his grandfather planted 60 years ago. The Mourvèdre is a mere 20 - 25 years old. His vines are farmed organically, but as yet not certified; 2017 was the first year of conversion to organic viticulture, which takes three years, so his vines will officially be organic in 2020.
The other development since my last visit is two more donkeys. The original donkey was lonely, so they found him a lady friend, but without realising that she was already in foal. So the new young donkey is called Hazard and Nicolas is having him trained to work in the vineyard. So far he is just getting used to carry a couple of baskets across his back. I do hope he is not too fond of grapes. And then we tasted the latest wines, which demonstrate a very satisfactory evolution.
2017 Viognier Pays d’Oc - 8.50€
With a picture of a quince flower on the label. The name of the property coudigno refers to quinces in Occitan. A 50 ares vineyards, on slopes towards the village of Lenthéric. The yield is a meagre 20 hl/ha. The grapes are handpicked and not destalked. It is given a classic white wine vinification, with débourbage, selected yeast and a fermentation in stainless steel vats. Nicolas is working on reducing his sulphur levels, so minimal use of sulphur. The élevage on the lees, with a bâtonnage every 4 - 6 weeks, by injecting gas into the vat, The lees take one day to settle down again. The nose is delicate with some firm peachy fruit. Initially Nicolas used some wood for his Viognier, but that is no longer the profile of wine he wants; he prefers to seek more freshness. And eventually he would like to make a white Faugères, as his father has the relevant grape varieties, namely Vermentino, Marsanne and Roussanne. The family estate totals 45 hectares in all. As president of the Faugères cooperative, things can be a little tricky, with his father saying that je ne jeux pas dire non àmon fils, but he also has the cooperative's interests to consider. A tricky diplomatic path to follow.
2017 Cidonia Faugères rosé - 7.50€
this time with a quince tree on the label. A blend of 60% Cinsaut and 40% Syrah. The grapes are pressed so no skin contact. A very pretty pale colour. Delicate fresh nose. Fresh acidity. Light fruit with a certain structure. A food rosé. Nicely balanced with a little weight. Very harmonious. Nicolas observed that he makes a rosé that he likes to drink himself.
2017 Cidonia Faugères rouge - 9.00€
40% each of Grenache and Carignan. 10% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre. Blended in March and bottled in September. Good young colour. Very garrigue with red fruit. Good balance with the fleshiness of Grenache offsetting the structure of the Carignan. Syrah and Mourvèdre add finesse. Medium weight, with a fresh finish
2017 Coingcidence - 14.50€
Coing is a quince in French. Includes very old Carignan, vinified on its own, with a tiny yield of 15-20 hls/ha. Originally the old Carignan was blended into Coing Secret but is now in a separate cuvée, on the advice of his oenologist, Gwenaël Thomas from Jean Natoli’s laboratory. The blend has evolved into 80% Carignan with 20% Syrah, which is actually not acceptable for Faugères, as there is too much Carignan. In 2017 the wine was particularly concentrated. The plot, a vineyard between Laurens and Caussinionjouls, was nearly pulled up as the yields were so minuscule but now it is being given a second chance. There is no oak ageing, only a vinification in stainless steel vats. Deep colour. Very fresh dark black fruit, with a certain richness and structure. A fairly heady 14º. Solid, rounded and youthful, with concentration. Quite powerful, especially on the finish.
2016 Le Coing Secret, Faugères 14.50€
The opposite blend, with 80% Syrah and 20% Carignan, with 30% of the cuvée spending 12 months in oak. Blended just before bottling in March. Deep colour. Quite firm peppery fruit on both the nose and palate. Tight knit, Quite alcoholic and a bit confit. For the first vintage, the 2014, as much as 70%, was aged in oak; none was made in 2015 and for this 2016, the oak has a nicely rounding effect.