Domaine du Poujol
Kim and Robert Cripps have been making wine at Domaine du Poujol at Vailhauquès close to the outskirts of Montpellier for fifteen years, which makes them one of the earlier ex-pat – he is British; she is American - wine estates in the region. They have a dispassionate and robust approach to the vagaries and challenges of French wine bureaucracy and are seriously considering labelling all their wines plain vin de table rather than Coteaux du Languedoc or vin de pays, as they are at the moment. They could even use the newer appellation of Grès de Montpellier, but they don’t like that either.
Altogether they have seventeen hectares of vines. I was taken to admire a new planting of Grenache. Well, at this time of the year, the vineyard looked a bit like a field of dry sticks, but Robert enthused: there are 6000 vines per hectare, higher than average in the Languedoc; planted on a rootstock that is not usually recommended for the Languedoc, and on the best day in the biodynamic calendar. The field had been fallow for nine years and has never been treated with herbicides or fertiliser, and the vines are flourishing.
And then we tasted, first a couple of 2008 barrel samples, both with lovely ripe fruit, while their large fluffy cat, Ed, provided a very voluble background commentary. He’s in a bad mood this morning, observed Robert, we don’t know why. And then onto some bottles:
2007 Pico Vin de Pays de l’Herault 6€ 15/20
A blend of Carignan blanc, Vermentino and Roussanne, with some fresh sappy fruit, with hints of white flowers and fresh acidity. Vermentino is good for acidity and they try not to pick the Roussanne too ripe, while Carignan blanc is a late ripener and also good for keeping freshness. NB It’s bottled with a screwcap, which is still unusual for the Languedoc.
2008 Rosé, Coteaux du Languedoc 6€ 18/20
This is absolutely delicious rosé. I love the colour which is very delicate pink, more like a rosé from Provence than the Languedoc. Robert explained that they grow the grapes specifically for rosé, rather than bleeding a tank of red, which only serves to unbalance your red wine. The juice has a few hours skin contact, and the wine is fresh and delicate, with elegant raspberry fruit, and refreshingly low in alcohol at 12.4°
2008 Jazz (because we like jazz) Coteaux du Languedoc. 6€ 16/20
Syrah is the main variety and it is not yet bottled. It has ripe, spicey fruit, with a certain peppery note on the nose, and youthful ripe fruit on the palate, with easy appeal, promising enjoyable drinking once it is bottled.
2006 Proteus Vin de Pays de l’Hérault 6€ 15/20
This is Merlot dominant, with some Carignan and Cinsaut, with some ripe plummy fruit on the nose and palate and a freshness on the finish.
2007 Podio Alto Coteaux du Languedoc 11€
A blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache with a touch of Cinsaut, aged in some old barrels. The palate has some southern spice, but remains elegant with nicely balanced tannins. A satisfying finish to a tasting.