Thursday, 22 February 2018

Château de Brau in Cabardès

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. 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Gérard Bertrand - an update

Hallgarten are the UK agents for Gérard Bertrand, so their recent tasting provided a good opportunity for an update on the not inconsiderable range from his various estates scattered over the Languedoc.

NV Code Rouge, Crémant de Limoux 
Presented in an eye-catching red bottle.  A blend of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Chenin Blanc and 10% Mauzac.  Aged on the lees for a minimum of three years, with 8 gms/l dosage.  A rounded creamy nose, with supple ripe rounded fruit on the palate.   Nicely balanced and easy to drink.

2016 Picpoul de Pinet.
This comes from bought grapes rather than their own vineyards.  Quite a rounded nose, and on the palate the benchmark saltiness of Picpoul with a firm finish and good balancing acidity.

2017 Chardonnay ‘Naturalys’, Pays d’Oc
30% of the cuvée is aged in barrel for six months.  Light easy fruit on the nose and quite supple and softly buttery on the palate.  This is their organic cuvée.

2017 Muscat ‘Prima Nature’ Pays d’Oc
Very fresh grapey nose, and on the palate rounded and grapey with a firm pithy note and the slightly bitter finish that is the hallmark of Muscat.  From organic vineyards and made without the addition of any sulphur.

2017 Syrah ‘Prima Nature’ Pays d’Oc
Medium depth of colour.  Young perfumed fruit on the nose, and on the palate some young rather raw tannins, but with underlying ripe fruit and some juiciness.  Again, without any added sulphur.

2017 Gris Blanc Pays d’Oc
A pure Grenache Gris.  Quite a soft rounded palate, and still a touch amylic, with boiled sweets on the nose.  A dry finish.

2017 Or et Azur Bee-Friendly Rosé, AOP Languedoc
A blend of equal parts of Grenache Noir and Cinsaut.  Light pink colour.  Still a bit amylic on the nose, but quite full and rounded on the palate, with good fruit.

2016 Château la Sauvageonne, Languedoc blanc.
A blend of 50% Vermentino, 40% Grenache blanc and 10% Viognier, partially aged in barrel for six months.  Buttery oak on the nose and quite solid and mouth filling on the palate.  The oak is still too obvious for my taste buds

2016 Château la Sauvageonne, La Villa rosé, Pays d’Oc
A blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, 7% Vermentino and 3% Viognier, of which a proportion is fermented in oak.  A pretty gris colour, and quite a delicate but firm nose, with some restrained fruit on the palate.   Quite structured, elegant and stylish.  This is a serious rosé.

2014 Château la Sauvageonne, Pica Broca, Terrasses du Larzac
A blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache, aged for 12 – 16 months in new French barriques, which makes it rather solidly oaky on the nose and palate, but with some ripe rounded fruit underneath the oak.  Needs time.

2013 Château la Sauvageonne, Grand Vin, Terrasses du Larzac
50% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 8% Mourvèdre and 7% Carignan, aged in French oak for 12 months.  Quite a firm structured nose and palate.  Tight knit, youthful concentrated fruit.  Again, needs time, but promises well.

2017 Domaine de Cigalus blanc, Aude Hauterive
70% Chardonnay, 20% Viognier, 10% Sauvignon blanc, of which 70% is fermented in French oak.   Quite a rounded nose with lots of nuances.  Quite a ripe fleshy palate, with peachy notes and a dry finish with a streak of tannin from the oak. 

2016 Domaine de Cigalus rouge, Aude Hauterive
A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Syrah, 20% Merlot and 5% each of Grenache and Carignan so a mix of bordelais and Languedoc flavours with a rounded ripe nose and on the palate, ripe spice, some cassis and a streak of tannin.

2014 Clos d’Ora, Minervois la Livinière
A blend of 45% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and 10% Carignan, aged for 12 months in French oak barriques.  Medium colour.  The nose is quite firm and closed with oaky overtones.  The palate is medium weight, quite firm and structured with herbal notes and other nuances, as well as some attractive evolution.  But at £149.91 plus VAT is it really worth it?   However, I admire Gérard’s chutzpah for aiming high, as Aimé Guibert did with Mas de Daumas Gassac back in the 1980s. 

2014 la Viala, Minervois la Livinière
60% Syrah, 25% Grenache 15% Carignan aged for a minimum of 12 months in new French oak barriques.  Quite a deep colour.  A rounded ripe spicy nose.  Lightly oaky palate, but quite an intense finish, with ageing potential.  And only about a third the price of Clos d’Ora.

2015 La Forge Corbières Boutenac
A blend of equal parts of Carignan and Syrah, aged for 12 months in barriques.
A deep colour.  Quite solid firm oak on the nose.  Dense ripe fruit on the palate with a firm streak of tannin.