This was an absolutely fascinating tasting, presented by Vincent Chansault, the very thoughtful winemaker at Domaine Gayda. He had taken the Syrah from one plot of their vineyards in Roussillon at Col de la Dona, between the villages of Calce and Pézilla, and put the identical wine from the 2018 vintage into nine different vessels, tank, barrels, an egg and so on. We were invited to taste the wines blind and to see what differences we could discern. It was a fascinating exercise, both challenging and enjoyable, and informative. The wine will ultimately be a key component of their leading red wine, Chemin de Moscou. I did not really try to work out what might have been in what, but concentrated on thinking about which wines I liked best. I also thought that the differences would be even more marked in a year’s time before they do the final blend for Chemin de Moscou.
Wine No 1 – One year old 500 litre barrels from the cooper, Boutes, in Narbonne.
Deep colour; firm youthful nose with red berries and on the palate fresh and peppery. Not a lot of body. It initially seemed quite discreet, but developed nicely in the glass.
No 2 - in a sandstone jarre, with no porosity
Very intense colour. Quite a rounded berry nose, with fresh peppery fruit. Structured with tight tannins. This is the wine that is subject to the least amount of oxygen, with no movement in the jarre, unlike wine in an egg.
No 3 – 3-year-old 228 litre barrel
Deep young colour. Nose initially not very expressive but developed in the glass. The palate was riper, slightly sweeter with a hint of vanilla, and the tannins were quite firm, but well integrated.
No 4 – concrete egg – so very little oxygen and the impact of a gentle movement of the lees. No racking, so very little sulphur.
Very deep young colour. Quite firm fruit on the palate. And a fresh structured palate, but with some appealing fleshy notes. Some lovely fruit with good intensity. A favourite.
No 5 - One year old 228 litre barrels
Deep colour. Black fruit with peppery notes on the nose. Quite an intense palate; textured with more tannins and depth. I was less aware of the oak initially, but it developed in the glass. Good length. Another favourite.
No 6 – stainless steel vat
Deep young colour. Quite rounded fresh peppery and cassis. Quite a firm palate; youthful fruit, fresh and peppery, with a firm streak of tannin. Quite closed, with less evolution than some. A fresh finish.
No 7 – Plastic egg – so some movement of the lees, and controlled porosity.
Deep young colour. More perfumed on the nose than some, with elegant fresh fruit. Medium weight. Nicely balanced, but the palate did not quite fulfil the perfume of the nose.
No 8 – Terracotta, kept above ground. So a lot of oxygen and some movement of the wine.
Deep young colour. Quite firm with a solid nose. Quite a ripe perfumed palate, with a streak of tannin. Quite elegant. This was another of my favourites.
No 9 – Foudre – 5 years old 20 hectolitres.
Good colour. Perfumed peppery fruit, on the palate quite fragrant. Elegant fruit with a good balance. Nicely textured. I liked this a lot.
Vincent and the managing director, Tim Ford, explained that 80% of Chemin de Moscou is still given a classic élevage in barrel. But they wanted to ask the question: how big is each piece of the jigsaw. “The variables are terrifying” observed Tim, as we came to no obvious conclusion.
It was a fascinating example of how one of the new talents of the Languedoc, that does not conform to the local appellation, is looking at new frontiers and challenging perceived ideas.
And then we had a tasting of the current range of wines from Domaine Gayda
2018 Flying Solo White, Pays d’Oc
Grenache Blanc, with 15% Viognier
Quite rounded, textured and perfumed with some peachy fruit and weight on the palate.
2018 T’Air d’Oc, Pays d’Oc
Pure Sauvignon with fresh pithy fruit, some good acidity and a rounded finish. A southern Sauvignon but with a good streak of freshness.
2018 Chardonnay, Pays d’Oc
From vineyards in the Minervois and Malepère. 20% fermented and aged in barrel and kept on lees for six months. Quite rounded, lightly buttery nose and palate.
2018 Viognier, Pays d’Oc
Pure Viognier from the Minervois and Roussillon. Six months on lees.
Lightly peachy on nose and palate. Good texture and weight with some balancing acidity.
2018 En Passant, Pays d’Oc
70% Maccabeu fermented in stainless steel and blended with 30% Muscat d’Alexandrie, in stainless steel as well as amphora. Quite fresh and pithy, with some acidity and some Muscat grapiness.
2017 Figure Libre, Pays d’Oc
50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Maccabeu, 20% Marsanne and 5% Roussillon, from Roussillon. The Marsanne and Grenache Blanc are both fermented in a concrete egg while barrels, both 228 litres and 500 litres, are used for the Roussanne, Maccabeu, and also some of the Grenache Blanc. Aged in concrete eggs and barrels with some lees stirring. Rounded and textured, with good acidity and flavours of white blossom on the palate. Lots of layers and nuances, with a firm finish.
2017 Figure Libre Chenin Blanc, Pays d’Oc
From a local vineyard in the Malepère. Fermented in an egg and in 500 litres barrels. A little colour. Dry honey on the nose and palate. Nicely textured, with elegant dry honeyed fruit. Good depth and length. A lovely glass of wine.
2017 Sélection Parcellaire, Pays d’Oc
Pure Grenache Gris, from several vineyards in Opoul-Perillos in Roussillon. Fermented in a concrete egg and aged on the lees for nine months. A little colour. Dry white blossom on nose and palate. Very nicely textured with good mouthfeel. Understated with some weight. Almost makes you think there is a hint of oak, but no. Yet another example of how good the white wines of Roussillon are becoming.
2018 Rosé Flying Solo
A blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Cinsault. Direct pressing. A little colour and rounded ripe fruit on the nose and palate. Good weight and texture.
2018 la Minuette, Pays d’Oc
A blend of 70% Mourvèdre, and 15% each of Syrah and Grenache. From la Livinière. Direct pressing. On the lees for three months. Pale pink. A delicate fresh nose. And a balance of fresh fruit and acidity on the palate. Nicely refreshing. The fermentation is stopped to leave 4 gm/l residual sugar, but you don’t taste it, as the acidity balances it out very nicely.
2018 Flying Solo, red, Pays d’Oc
A blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. No oak. Medium colour. Ripe fresh fruit on nose and palate. Rounded supple, ripe and perfumed. Easy drinking.
2018 T’air d’Oc, Pays d’Oc
Pure Syrah from the Minervois. One third carbonic maceration. Bright young colour. Fresh peppery fruit on nose and palate with a streak of tannin.
2018 Syrah; Pays d’Oc
Syrah from La Livinière in the Minervois, and also from Roussillon. Ten percent aged in three-year or older barrels for nine months. Ninety percent in vat on the fine lees for nine months.
Quite a deep colour. I found this still rather young and adolescent, with some dense fruit. Needs to settle down.
2017 En Passant
70% Syrah and 30% Cinsault on schist and limestone. The Syrah is aged in 5-year-old barrels, and the Cinsault in stainless steel. Medium colour. Quite perfumed fruit on the
nose with some peppery notes on the palate. Medium weight. Quite rounded and ripe, and a slightly sweet finish.
2017 Figure Libre Freestyle red
A blend of 50% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and 10% Carignan, both from La Livinière and from Roussillon. Aged in older barrels for nine months with some bâtonnage and a selection of the best barrels from each terroir.
Medium colour. Ripe spice and good fruit, and on the palate, rich and textured; quite dense with a leathery note. Characterful
2017 Figure Libre, Cabernet Franc
Pure Cabernet Franc grown in the Malepère. Some aged in new oak; some in foudres and some in slightly older oak. For some reason, this particular bottle was not showing as well as usual; disappointing it is often stands out in tastings.
2017 Sélection Parcellaire, Vin de France
Pure Mourvèdre from La Livinière. Very careful winemaking; hand-picked, no sulphur, whole bunches pressed by foot. Four weeks on the skins. 15 months ageing in foudres.
Deep colour. Quite solid and rounded on the nose, with dense youthful fruit on the palate and some leathery notes. Lots of potential.
2016 Chemin de Moscou, Pays d’Oc
72% Syrah, from La Livinière, Malepère and Roussillon. 22% Grenache from Tautavel and La Livinière and 8% Cinsault from La Livinière. Low yielding vines. Handpicked; destemmed. Traditional vinification with a two-week post fermentation maceration. 21 months in French oak; some new, some demi-muids and some foudres. Blending of the best barrels, and then a further twelve months ageing before the final blend.
Deep colour. Quite a solid rounded nose. Good fruit on the palate, with rich and spice and balanced tannins, but still very youthful with plenty of potential. A lovely glass of wine.
2014 Villa Mon Rêve, Minervois la Livinière
Pure Syrah. Hand- harvested. One third whole bunches. Four-week maceration. Aged in 2000 litre oak and 1600 litre concrete egg for 20 months without any racking of the lees. Medium colour. Ripe and intense on the nose, with notes of tapenade. A ripe, rich palate; lots of nuances and still with potential for further development in bottle. A great finale to a very interesting morning.