It has been a while since my last visit to Domaine de l’Horte so an update was called for. We sat in a cool shady courtyard and André Alingrin produced bottles, and opinions, some more scurrilous than others. He said nothing much had changed since the last visit. I sense he is a confident winemaker who knows what he wants to achieve. He has 22 hectares, and 8 hectares of fields.
2017 Rosé, Côtes de Thongue - 5.20€
Pure Cinsaut, saigné after two hours. Fresh dry raspberry fruit on nose and palate. A little weight, with some rounded fruit. what André called ‘simple et sympathique’.
2017 Blanc, Côtes de Thongue - 6.20€
A pure Marsanne. Elegant white blossom fruit. Nicely rounded with some herbal grassy notes, and a hint of grapefruit and a fresh bitterness on the finish. Some potential to develop in bottle.
2017 Malgré Moi, Coteaux de Béziers - 7.40€
This comes from Andre’s father’s original vineyard outside Béziers. I have not really come across Coteaux de Béziers, before, but it encompasses the villages immediately around Béziers. The wine is Chardonnay, and was originally called Destin Croisé. André wanted to stop making it, but his customers insisted he continue, which he did, malgré moi. He uses interstaves to give the wine a touch of elegant vanilla and to round out the palate. It is nicely mouth filling, quite elegant and not too heavy.. André observed that philosophiquement he prefers Marsanne, to Chardonnay. I rather agree.
2016 Cuvée H, Vin de France - 12.00€
About two thirds Vermentino to one third Roussanne, fermented together and given 12 months in new wood. Satisfying mouthfeel with texture and depth and plenty of nuances. It will continue to develop beautifully in bottle.
Andre has a healthy disrespect for officialdom and did observe that if you do not make either an appellation or an IGP, it is well nigh impossible to go to a wine fair, as they do not accept you as they do not where to put you. His H rouge, tasting note coming, was Languedoc for the first vintage, and ils sont revenus me contrôler, which even though everything was in order and it took less than an hour, he deemed to be totally unacceptable, so he made AOP Languedoc for the first and last time.
2015 Simplement, Vin de France - 5.20€
His entry level red, a blend of Syrah and Grenache, with good colour and fresh fruit on both nose and palate. Served lightly chilled, to bring out the acidity. A perfect summer red.
2015 Emilie, Côtes de Thongue, Syrah - 7.40€
Named after his father, Emile, who helped with the creation of the estate, and his grandmother, who was Emilie. Fermented in a tank, with no barrels but rather interstaves, or planks. What my friend Lizzie succinctly termed 'tank and plank!' Better a good quality interstave - Andre reckons one small plank for 2 hectolitres works nicely - than a bad quality barrel. A light touch of vanilla from the oak and some ripe spice - smooth and rounded. A winter warmer
2017 H Rouge - Vin de France - 12.00€
From vineyards in the garrigue outside Magalas near the chapel of St Croix. It was originally AOP Languedoc but no more. A blend of 20% Cinsaut and equal parts of Grenache and Syrah, all fermented together in a vat. Rounded ripe nose, with some fresh spice on the palate. Youthful fruit and tannins. It needs time in bottle.
2014 Jeu de Patience Côtes de Thongue - 17.00€
A blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache, which spends twelve month in barrel, with the final blend just before bottling. Deep young colour. Rounded, ripe and some oak on the nose; a winter warmer with rich fruit and some alcohol on the finish, but quite serious and concentrated. The label is a pun; wine is above all a game of patience, and there are three jigsaw pieces, with André’s name and his two wine-making friends who have helped and advised him, namely Gilles Barrot and Pierre Dubrion.