Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Domaine de l’Horte

Friends' dinner tables can often be a good source of interesting bottles, and so it was with Domaine de l’Horte.  Lizzie and Ali had had a lousy meal at a local restaurant, but the wine was delicious, and it came from Domaine de l’Horte, so further investigation was required.  So off we went to visit, André and Marie-Victoire kindly accepting to see us one Monday morning towards the end of the harvest, when they were not too overwhelmed by grapes.  

We wandered round the cellar with André - he was in the middle of a remontage and we watched wine gushing out of the tank at one level, and then being sprayed onto the cap on the top of the tank, in the attic of the barn.   He explained how he came to Domaine de l’Horte; his father did market gardening outside Béziers, especially vegetables, but also had a few vines.  André studied viticulture and oenology at Montpellier and in 1991 he bought Domaine de l’Horte, really he admitted, without realising its potential.  The previous owner was an absentee landowner who employed one workman to produce bulk wine, just one wine from the property.  André does still produce wine for the bulk market, but he has also developed a range of characterful wines in bottle, both Côtes de Thongue and Languedoc that are sold mainly at the cellar door.   The main vineyards are in a large plot by the cellar close to Magalas and by the chapel of Ste Croix and the grape varieties are Roussanne, Vermentino, Marsanne, Chardonnay, Grenache Noir, Syrah and Cinsaut, and a little Petit Verdot.  Unusually André has no Carignan; it wasn’t very good and he has pulled it up.  In fact he has replanted most of his vineyards. 

The cellar is the classic old cellar of the Languedoc, dating from the end of the 19th century but with cement vats rather than old foudres, and André has added some smaller vats but done little to modernise it.  He still uses a continuous press, but he does have cooling equipment, and enjoys the luxury of space.   He observed that it took time to learn about his vines and he has an oenologist who he described as his frère de coeur.  And for his top red cuvée for which he does pigeage rather than remontages, he uses the old lavoir – he was talking about buying a new vat, and it was a visiting Australian wine maker who observed that he already had just what he needed.

Andre went back to his remontages and we settled down to a tasting in the courtyard with Marie-Victoire.   She is fun and lively and has worked in international banking.  So how do you meet a vigneron in the Languedoc if you come from Picardie in the north and work in Paris?  Simple answer - at a wedding.  Her assistant was from the Languedoc so Marie-Victoire went to her wedding and met André who was a friend of the bridegroom.

2014 Rosé, Côtes de Thongue – 5.00€
A blend of Cinsaut and Grenache.  Saigné. Pretty colour.  Delicate fruit on the nose.  Quite rounded with good acidity.  Very fresh.  A crisp sappy note on the finish.

2014 Domaine de l’Horte, Côtes de Thongue blanc – 6.00€
A ripe fruity nose with lots of white blossom and herbal notes.  Good acidity balancing a textured palate.  André picks very ripe.  A good long finish.  The grape variety is Marsanne, but André prefers to sell Domaine de l’Horte, rather than the grape variety.   Youthful fresh fruit.

2013 Destins Croisées, Coteaux du Libron – 7.00€
Lightly oaked; fermented in oak and spends a few weeks in oak.  A bit of bâtonnage.  From vines in the suburb of Béziers on river gravel.  A little colour.  A touch oak on the nose, but not too much.  A rounded palate, with firm acidity and quite a dry firm finish.  And why the name?  André has been about to give up on Chardonnay when he encountered, il a croisé,  a friend who told him to carry one with it.

2013 H, Languedoc – 11.00€
A blend of 60% Vermentino and 40% Roussanne; they are planted together in the same vineyard and picked together.  The Vermentino is a little more productive than the Roussanne.  On the garrigues of Magalas.  30% vinified in oak, and co-fermented, with some bâtonnage.   Light colour.  Lovely intriguing herbal notes on the nose.  Herbal, pithy fruit, with good balancing acidity.  A delicious glass of wine. 

Simplement!  Vin de France – 5.00€
They don’t bother with a vintage for this wine as it is intended for easy and early drinking.  70% Syrah and 30% Petit Verdot.  Light red fruit, with cassis notes.  Medium body, fresh fruit , balanced with a fresh streak of tannin.

2012 Emilie, Côtes de Thongue – 7.00€
Pure Syrah and a homage to André’s parents, Emile and Emilie who helped him with the purchase of the estate.   Fresh peppery fruit on both nose and palate.  Supple and fresh, spicy red fruit.   Drinking beautifully.  

2013 H Rouge Languedoc – 12.00€
A blend of Cinsaut, Syrah and Grenache. Elevage in vat.  2013 was the first vintage of this cuvée, and they made none in 2014 and there will none either in 2015, thanks to a very small crop of Grenache Noir.  Light nose and on the palate easy peppery fruit.  More structured than Emile, but not aggressively so.  Well balanced palate making for refreshing drinking but without any great depth. 

2012 Jeu de Patience – 17.00€
Just 1200 – 1600 bottles.   Hand-picked; so also is H.  They usea  mechanical harvester for the other cuvées.  The first vintage of this was 2002. A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache Noir, yielding 20 – 25 hl/ha.  Green harvest in July.  Fermented in the old lavoir, with regular pigeage and a long cuvaison of 4 – 6 weeks and then a 12 – 18 months élevage depending on the vintage.  In French oak, one  third new.  Quite firm fruit, with well integrated oak.  Quite rounded and spicy, with some ageing potential.

Marie-Victoire explained that the name is a game between three friends, with the patience to make good wine, namely André; his oenologist, Pierre Dubrieu, who runs a winery for Jean-Claude Mas in Limoux, and Gilles Barrow, who is involved with their label design.  The three names are on the label.  

André  comes across as a bit of a rebel; he tried working with Terra Vitis, but prefers to do his own thing. He works organically most of the time, but may use a chemical if absolutely necessary, when it is a question of saving the crop.  And he really wants to try working with a horse.

Les Elucubrations de l’Horte, Vin de Liqueur – 12.00€
The name means a mad idea, and the wine is made from Grenache that has been muté like a vin doux, and then aged in wood, in an old Cognac barrel.  16˚.  Ripe fresh Grenache fruit, ripe cherries, rounded and spicy and not too spirity on the finish.  A sympathique finale to a very friendly tasting.

They also want to sell more in bottle, which they do mostly in wine salons or at the cellar door, so do go and visit them.  Ca vaut le detour.  Their website tells you how to find them.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Château de Jonquières

Château de Jonquières, in the village of Jonquières, has been in the same family since the 12th century.  The family name may have changed, but the property has never been sold, and it has been an agricultural property since the 13th century, always with vines and sometimes wheat.   It is well placed, on the road to the Col du Vent at Arboras, connecting the north to the southern half of the Hérault.  Nor has it ever been fortified, but retains stylish Italian Renaissance architecture from Bernardin de Latude, who was a pageboy to the mother of Louis XIV.  There is a long family history, too complicated to give the exact details here.   They have a price list for Canada dating from 1870, including a  wine from Jonquières, and a Muscat de Frontignan was the same price as a Sauternes, and they won a silver medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1889, the year the Eifel Tower was built.  The chapel of the château is still used by the villagers of Jonquières and the original statues of the lions at the bottom of the grand  staircase were destroyed at the Revolution, but the villagers defended the château itself.

The viticultural part of the estate is now run by Charlotte de Cabissole, with her husband, Clément de Béarn.   Charlotte is the third child of François and Isabelle de Cabissole, who took over the family estate in the 1980s and began developing sales in bottle in 1992.   Charlotte studied economics and English at Reims, where she met Clément.  They spent the summer of 2011 running a table d’hôte at the château, for her parents’ guests, and realised that they would really like to make wine.   Her siblings were not interested; so in 2014 after viticulture and wine-making studies in Pézenas, they officially took over the wine production of  Jonquières,    Isabelle and François still run chambres d’hôte - and it would be a wonderful place to stay.

They have a very logical range of five wines, three colours of Lansade, and a red and a white oak aged La Baronnie.

2014 Lansade Blanc,  Pays de l’Hérault - 11.50€
70% from 30 year old Chenin Blanc vines and 30% Grenache Blanc.  A simple vinification in vat, and blending during fermentation.  The Chenin is picked a little earlier than the Grenache.  A dry honeyed nose that is very characteristic of Chenin Blanc.  Elegant palate; the Grenache adds weight, but good acidity and dry honey and potential for ageing in the bottle, with some structure. 

We talked about the reasons for Chenin Blanc in this area, when of course it is usually found in the Lorie Valley.  Apparently the coop in the adjourning village of St. Saturnin asked for Chenin Blanc as an experiment some 30 years ago, as they were looking for varieties that would retain acidity in the white wine, but Chenin was never accepted in the appellation.  However, as a result other growers have it too, Alain Chabanon, Domaine de Pountil  and Cal Demoura; Olivier Jullien has replaced his with Carignan Blanc.

2014 Lansade rosé, Pays de l’Hérault – 8.50€
90% Cinsaut with 10% Carignan, planted by Charlotte’s great grandmother, 70 years ago.  The Cinsaut is pressed and the Carignan saigné, adding some body.  Orange pink colour.  Nice rounded palate, and quite ripe and mouth filling.  A food rosé.

2014 Lansade rouge, Terrasses du Larzac – 11.50€
A typical Languedoc blend with the usual five varieties.  As much as 40% Carignan, with a high proportion of Cinsaut and just 10% Mourvèdre.  Blended in December and given an élevage of 12 – 15 months in vat.  Carignan is now considered a principal, rather than a secondary variety for the Terrasses du Larzac.  Medium colour.  Quite a firm stony mineral character.  Dry spice.  Medium weight.  A certain freshness, with good fruit.  14˚ but does not taste heavy.

2013 La Baronnie Rouge, Terrasses du Larzac – 16.50€
40% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache Noir and 10% Carignan.  Blended in December before élevage in oak, but no new barrels.  Bottled in August 2015. Firm youthful fruit, with structure potential and balance.  The oak is well integrated.  Youthful red fruit.  Firm stony notes.   Elegant with aging potential.

I asked about other wine growers in the village of Jonquières – they include some good names:  Mas Jullien, Cal Demoura, Mas de l’Ecriture, Mas Pountil, Le Peira, and two that I did not know, namely Mas de l’Erme and Le Clos du Lucquier.  They see themselves at the heart of the Terrasses du Larzac.

2013 La Baronnie Blanc, Pays de l’Hérault – 16.50€
A blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Chenin Blanc, vinified in barrel, and given a little bâtonnage, and then ten months ageing on the lees, without any more bâtonnage.  Light colour.  Quite a firm nose.  A touch of oak, but nicely integrated, and again on the palate, the oak is present but not intrusive.  Nicely mouth filling, with good acidity, good body and a long finish.    A lovely glass of wine, with ageing potential.

Jonquières is well worth a visit, not only for its wines, but also for the architecture.  They organise guided visits twice a week on Wednesday and Friday mornings, between April and September, which include some history as well as tour of the cellars and a tasting.  It would be worth a journey, and most certainly a detour.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

A bonne bouche from Sainsbury’s

I spent much of last Wednesday tasting Sainsbury’s autumn offerings.  They seem to favour Jean-Claude Mas for quite a few of their wines from the Languedoc;  in fact the most original dry white with a southern flavour came from a South African Roussanne, namely 2015 Bellingham The Bernard Series, with white blossom and satisfying texture for £10.00.  The red pair to this was a ripe oaky Syrah for £12.00 which came in a very heavy bottle, so I was less enthused.   

And then almost at the end of the tasting, amongst the tiny selection of dessert wines was a delicious bonne bouche, a half bottle of Muscat de St Jean de Minervois, for just £5.00.  It was everything that good Muscat should be, with soft honeyed grapy fruit and a nice balance of acidity.   St. Jean de Minervois is a tiny appellation adjoining the eastern edge of the Minervois and a couple of wine growers in St. Chinian also make it, but the main producer is the village cooperative, which, I suspect, was the source of this wine.   

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Tasting with Jean-Louis Denois

Tasting with Jean-Louis is always an exciting experience.  You never quite know what to expect; he has an ability to surprise,  and enjoys some confrontation.  The very first time we met, back in the last century, he sprang a blind tasting on me.  This time was much more relaxed; we were  six around a table in the coolest part of his cellar in Limoux, down two stories, on a very hot afternoon.    He originates from Champagne, studied in Burgundy  and has made sparkling wine in South Africa, helping to develop Cap Classique.  When he first came to Limoux, he owned Domaine de l’Aigle which he sold to the Burgundians Antonin Rodet – it is now part of Gérard Bertrand’s empire, and he fell foul of the French authorities for planting Riesling and Gewurztraminer.   These days he has vines  outside the village of Roquetaillade, as well as a vineyard in Roussillon,  and operates in Ets. Babou’s old cellars on the edge of the town of Limoux.   And his current bone of contention is the fact that you cannot make any sparkling wine in Limoux other than Limoux, so there is no possibility of making a quality sparkling wine or indeed a cuve close wine that does not conform to the Limoux regulations.    Jean-Louis considers this to be too prohibitive.  They produce Kriter in Burgundy and Veuve du Vernay near Bordeaux, so why not ……. He also complains about the restrictive percentages of grape varieties in Limoux, that Pinot Noir should not exceed 20%.   And somehow he seems to find a way around these various restrictions. 

We settled down to taste.  First came variations on his Crémant Blanc de Blancs,  Brut Nature sans sulfites, (10.00€) from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Chenin.  There should be some Mauzac too, but never mind. The wine has spent two years on the lees, without a dosage, and was disgorged in front of us.  It was very fresh and pure with a good mousse.    Then to show the effect of dosage Jean-Louis added  6gm/l of residual sugar, which fills out the palate very nicely.   The next sample had been disgorged in June and had had time to become more integrated and creamy with some weight.  And the final wine of the flight, disgorged in May 2014, had more depth on the nose and palate, with some notes of brioche and honey, with depth and balance.

Next came a flight centred on Tradition. (11.00€)  Essentially this is the wine that Jean-Louis has always made,  first under the label of Charles de Fère and then at Domaine de l’Aigle.  The current release from the 2010 vintage is quite firm and dry, with a little body and some bottle age.  The wine from the 2012 which is not yet released in youthful and fresh with a hint of dry honey.  The Pinot Noir (50%) gives some structure and length.

Bulles d’Argile, Crémant de Limoux. Extra Brut (17.00€)  disgorged in March, with 5 gm/l residual sugar, is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Some barrel fermentation in old wood, and no sulphur.  During the second fermentation the yeast absorbed the oxygen, making for a wine with a little colour, some rounded, lightly toasted elegant fruit with good depth.  In contrast the Brut Nature disgorged in 2014, without any dosage, was firm and fresh, structured and quite austere on the finish.  If you don’t use sulphur, you have to be meticulous about hygiene, but carbon dioxide helps too.  With that advantage more champenois ought to make sulphur free wines, observed Jean-Louis.

And then we were treated to three quite different wines from the same vineyard, a seven hectares  plot in St. Paul de Fenouillet in the Haute Vallée d’Agly, so one of the cooler parts of Roussillon.
Brut de Syrah, Blanc de Noirs, Brut Nature disgorged in 2014 – 12.00€.  it was quite firm and structured with good acidity and some depth.

Bulles de Syrah Rosé d’une Nuit, from grapes picked ten days later.  The grapes spend one night on the skins, making for a pretty pink.  Jean-Louis stops the fermentation leaving some natural sugar for the second fermentation, which makes for more fruit and less acidity in the wine, so that it was quite overtly fruity, but nicely rounded with an elegant finish, and it went deliciously with my New Zealand friend, Lynne’s, pavlova later that evening.

2013 Mes Vignes de St. Paul, Vin de France   The remaining Syrah is picked three weeks later,   No sulphur. It is a classic Syrah, with a deep colour, and sturdy youthful  peppery fruit, with a rounded finish, and quite restrained for Roussillon.   It was simply amazing to consider that all three wines came from the same vineyard. 

Limoux is one of the few places in the Languedoc where you can make really fine Pinot Noir.  Jean-Louis has a vineyard in the village of Magrie, and makes two cuvées, which he would call his village wine (12.00€) and his grand vin (20.00€).  The 2014 village wine is unwooded and has some fresh red fruit; it is medium weight and youthful with supple silky fruit.  The Grand Vin, les Bougats is altogether more serious, with ageing in wood, but none new.  With a deeper colour, it is more structured and again with some elegant fruit.  2014 was a very balanced vintage.    And then we compared the village wine of 2013 with the Grand Vin of 2012.  The 2013 village wine was youthful and fresh with a tannic streak and has yet  to open up, while the 2012 Grand Vin, a warmer vintage,  developed beautifully in the glass, with rich fruit, texture and depth.   Jean-Louis observed that the quality of Pinot Noir from the Languedoc still has to be recognised, but that will come.  And in the context of Pinot Noir, the ripest vintage is not always the best.

And then we moved onto bordelais grape varieties.  First came 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Haute Vallée de l’Aude.  This is the first time that Jean-Louis has made Cabernet Sauvignon without any wood ageing.  It had a deep colour, with some solid cassis fruit on the nose and on the palate was ripe and rounded, with firm youthful tannins and ageing potential.  This was a vat sample, as was the Cabernet Franc that followed.  Again it was made without any oak, with fresher fruit than the Cabernet Sauvignon, and more acidity and tannin.  And then we looked at Merlot, Chloé Vieilles Vignes, from forty year old vines.  Some oak ageing.  A ripe plummy nose, with fleshy ripe black fruit.  Youthful with lovely fruit and firm tannins.

According to the tasting sheet, our tasting was going to finish there, but it didn’t!  Next Jean-Louis opened a 2013 Cabernet Franc.  A little ageing in old oak makes the wine heavier.  In comparison 2014 has more acidity, but there was fresh fruit and textured palate.  The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon had also been in old wood, and was firm and structured with dry cassis and some slightly drying tannins.  I much preferred the unoaked wines.  

And then we got onto the subject of eggs.  Jean-Louis snorted ‘bullshit’.  The wine doesn’t breathe in an egg.  He is much more interested in amphora; something in the clay of an amphora prevents the development of volatile acidity, whereas there is something in wood that can encourage it.  He has found a source of amphora, a local company in nearby Castelnaudary and is discovering amphora.   Nothing stands still, even if he is considering slowing down and wondering whether his son might like to take over.  And I later read that he has sold the 25 hectare estate of Métairie d'Alon to Clément Badet, a company with quality aspirations in the Languedoc.

And later that evening as we enjoyed the Brut de Syrah, I read the back label: Attention: vous allez déguster un vin singulier, identi-terre, une création bien loin de la standardisation du gout.  Buveurs  d’étiquettes et de cuvées prestiges; s’abstenir.    There is a ram on several of Jean-Louis’ labels  – his star sign is Aries – prompting him to observe that ‘ I am following my star, not the herd’.    And on his labels he describes himself as an artisan vigneron, which sums him up very nicely.



Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Domaine Gayda

Domaine Gayda is an old wine estate outside Limoux, dating back to 1749.  Technically it is within the appellation of Malepère, but instead they produce some highly original vins de pays.   The current history began in 2000 when Anthony Record bought the property as a holiday house. However, as an energetic entrepreneur he was not going to neglect his land, and so the wine estate is the result of an association of four people, Anthony Record, Tim Ford who had run a large business exporting roses grown in Kenya and Zimbabwe,  until he was expelled by Mugabe; Mark Kent, a South African winemaker who runs Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek and Vincent Chansault, the wine maker.  All four have some link with the Cape.  

Vincent arrived here in 2003, after working a number of years in  South Africa  and examined the soil and the climate, totally disregarding the fact the land was appellation Malepère.  Instead he chose to plant Cabernet Franc – for Malepère he should have opted for Merlot.   There was a spot by a stream where he thought there was the potential for pourriture noble, where he has planted Chenin blanc, and he also  planted Sauvignon, and some Syrah in some particularly poor soil.  And they built a cellar, and also opened a restaurant.  The concept of oenotourism is particularly strong in South Africa, and that is something that they wanted to develop.  I was amused to find a collection of old black and white photographs in the ladies’ loo featuring various film stars inelegantly eating spaghetti, Sean Connery, Charles Aznavour, Marcello Mastroianni and others.  And there is also a wine school, Vinécole,  run by fellow Master of Wine Matthew Stubbs.   

Vincent showed us round.  He explained that Malepère means mauvais pierre, in other words stones that are not good for construction, but are very soft and friable, and therefore make for good agricultural land.  And 10 kilometres west there is the partage des eaux.  The climate is unique as the Pyrenees block the influence of the Mediterranean, and so it is much cooler here than anywhere else in the Languedoc.

Vincent exudes enthusiasm and you sense that he is very competent and focussed.   First he showed us a small plot of vines, just 50 ares planted close to the winery.  They had used selection massale, from vines originally planted in 1920.  He explained that if he were to start again, he would plant their vineyards in smaller plots, not in the long rows to which he was accustomed in South Africa. This particular plot was planted en echalas, each with a supporting pole, in a triangular format so that there is no shading between the vines, and they are just allowed to grow at will and often latch on to their neighbours forming an arch.  Domaine Gayda has been farmed organically since the beginning and now they are moving towards biodynamics.  The soil here is very hard, with a high pH and very little microbiological life, and they want to improve that through biodynamics.

In addition to the vineyards at Gayda, they buy lots of grapes, particularly from Roussillon, at Opoul near the coast, Calce, Latour de France and St. Martin de Fenouillet.  Vincent enthused about the extraordinary complexity of the terroir of Roussillon, with granite, gneiss and schist.  They use a refrigerated lorry to bring the grapes back to Gayda.  Their  harvest lasts about two months from about 20th August to 20th October.   Vincent was also particularly taken with Minervois La Livinière and there they have bought vineyards, which now total 10 hectares.  They now have a cellar there too, which means that they can sell the wine as Minervois La Livinière, under the name La Villa Mon Rêve,  which is the name of a little house in the middle of the vines.

The modern cellar is well equipped, with lots of small stainless steel vats, for different vineyard sizes, and 500 barrels, with an oxaline system for easy manoeuvrability.  They replace 50 barrels each year, and use different coopers with different toasting, and place more importance on the tightness of the grain, rather than on the particular forest.  Sometimes they want as long as five years seasoning for their oak.  They use natural yeast, and Vincent talked about a study on the DNA of yeast, examining the yeast on Syrah from three different vineyards, la Livinière, Gayda and Roussillon and each was quite different, illustrating that the indigenous yeast do indeed contribute to the character of a wine.  Temperature control is manual rather than computerised, so that everything is regularly checked, with the necessary remontages and pigeages.    And then there are experiments, eggs, for Grenache Gris and Chenin blanc, foudres for élevage, and also demi-muids, which are good for Grenache, while Syrah does better in barriques.  Vincent observed that tradition is an experiment that worked, and that they are creating their own history.

And then it was time to taste:

2014 Viognier, Pays d’Oc – 6.95€
From three terroirs, the schist of Roussillon, limestone from the Minervois and Gayda and granite from Roussillon.  Vinified in vat.  Light golden. Delicately peachy, a delicate nose, lightly floral with peaches and apricots.  No bitterness on the palate.  Elegant and balanced with a fresh finish.  A blend of terroirs.  Each is vinified separately and then gradually blended.

2013 Figure Libre, Freestyle, Pays d’Oc– 10.00€
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Macabeo, Chenin Blanc grown on granite.  The back label gives very detailed information about exact provenance and percentages.  Suffice it to say that Grenache Blanc accounts for over half.  Vinified plot by plot; nine months in wood and blended at the last moment.  13˚.  Intriguing white blossom, a hint of oak and on the palate a nicely rounded texture and lots of nuances.  Very good acidity, a saline quality and some minerality.  .  Quite a dry finish. Minimum sulphur and no cultured yeast.  Understated weight.  Still very young. Give it 5 – 7 years. 

2013 Chenin Blanc, Figure Libre, Pays d’Oc – 14.00€
Vincent enthused about how Savennières is one of his favourite wines.  And he wants the Chenin Blanc at Gayda to have some noble rot; sometimes it is as much as 100%.  This 2013 was light in colour, with some dry honey on the nose and very good acidity on the palate, balanced with ripe honeyed fruit.  Elegant, balanced and lots of nuances and a long finish.  A lovey glass of wine.  It has been kept in an egg and was bottled a year ago. 

2014 Grenache Gris, Sélection -20.00€
A selection of Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc from three different vineyards at Opoul.  Vincent commented that there is a difference in the ripening time between Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc even in the same plot. Again vinified and kept in an egg.  And bottled in late June.  Light colour; lightly rounded with a rich textured palate and good acidity and length.  Full but not heavy.  They made just 2000 bottles of this.

2013 Syrah, Vin de Pays d’Oc – 7.00€
From vineyards of limestone schist and granite.  No wood.  Deep young colour. Lightly peppery.  A fresh dry peppery palate.  Just 13˚.  Crozes-Hermitage is Vincent’s inspiration here.  He wants lightly grained tannins, with some of the spice of the garrigues, observing that altitude has an important impact on aroma, favouring 200- 300 metres. And he limits the yield to 50 hl, observing that the vignerons do have to make a living.  It’s mon vin de pétanque

2013 Figure Libre Freestyle, Pays d’Oc – 10.00€
A blend of 45% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache Noir and 20% Carignan.  20 to 80 year old vines.  Medium colour.  Quite a firm nose.   A rounded fresh palate, with lovely garrigues fruit and spice.   Nicely integrated tannins and a fine balance.    Elegant red fruit.  They have retained freshness in the wine.  As négociants, they have access to some very good grapes.

2013 Figure Libre, Pays d’Oc – 14.00€
100% Cabernet Franc from the Malepère.  Élevage in barriques, as well a tronconique vat and a foudre.  And Vincent wants to try out an egg too.  Twelve months élevage.  This was bottled last November.    2013 was a tricky vintage for grapes that ripened late, as it was hot and humid just as the grapes were ripening and they had to pick very quickly or else they would have lost everything to rot.    The wine has lovely fresh fruit, with supple tannins.  Youthful.  Medium weight.   A beautifully ripe Cabernet Franc.

2012 Chemin du Moscou, Pays d’Oc  - 20.00€
This is  their address and also the name of the air corridor for the aero-poste after it left Toulouse, in the early days of s flying postal service.    A blend of Syrah,(62%)  Grenache (32%) and Cinsaut (6%).  They are aiming to increase the percentage of Cinsaut, and planting more at La Livinière.  12 months élevage separately and then another 12 months in barrique together.   14˚.  Rich and intense on the palate, but not heavy.  Rounded with supple tannins and black fruit and a peppery note.  Youthful with lots of potential.

2012 Villa Mon Rêve, Pays d’Oc, - 45.00€
Pays d’Oc as it was not made in La Livinière.  The 2013 vintage will be Minervois La Livinière.   They made just 2500 bottles.  Pure Syrah.  13.5˚  Two years ageing in small foudres.   A lovely interpretation of Syrah, rich but supple, garrigues fruit.  Lots of nuances.  Elegant a fresh finish and masses of potential.