CLOS DU GRAVILLAS
John and Nicole Bojanowski are wine growers in the village of St. Jean-de-Minervois at Clos du Gravillas. The village is known for its sweet Muscat but they prefer to make an intriguing range of table wines. I’ve mentioned them a few times over the last year or so, but it had been a while since I had tasted the complete range of their wines. They have 8 hectares of vineyards, having just bought another two hectares, of old Terret and other varieties. The cellar is a cramped space next to their house in the village; each vat has a name; the largest is called Shakespeare; next down in size is Chabal, a ferocious French rugby player. John and Nicole have a healthy disrespect for the niceties of appellation laws so most of their wines are the local vin de pays Côtes de Brian – Brian being a small river.
2008 L’Inattendu, Minervois, 16.00€
A blend of Grenache blanc, Grenache gris and Macabeo. In theory Grenache gris is not part of the appellation, but John considers that it is much better than Grenache blanc. I’ve already enthused about this at the Absolutely Cracking French Wine tasting, but here my notes say the Chablis of the Midi. If you knew how much I love Chablis, you would realise that really is a compliment. The vineyards are on white limestone rock, and you can really taste the minerality, with firm acidity, and also some dry honeyed notes.
2009 L’InattenduIn September we tasted a finished vat sample, which would be bottled this October. Quite rounded and fuller on the nose and palate; lightly herbal, creamy, with good minerality and acidity on the finish.
2009 Emmenez moi au bout de la Terret, a play on words, after a Charles Aznavour song. From both Terret blanc and gris. I didn’t know that there was a Terret gris. Quite a firm dry stony nose, with a hint of apricots. Good acidity and minerality. Terret ripens late, and is ripe with only 12º alcohol. 10.00€
2009 Sous les Cailloux, des Grillons – 8.00€
Contains six different varieties, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Counoise and Mourvèdre. Deep colour; ripe berry fruit with lovely acidity and fresh fruit and spice. A touch of tannin and some firm minerality. You may remember this wine was the solution to my dilemma of what to drink after 1921 d’Yquem. And what I did not know then was that the name is a reference to 1968, Sous les Pavés, la Plage. The Parisian paving stones, the pavés, and the favoured missile of the rioting students, were set in sand.
2007 Le Rendez-Vous du Soleil – 11.00€
A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan – 27 months aging, in barrels for the Syrah and Cabernet.
Quite deep colour; quite ripe berries on nose and palate. Fresh acidity and tannin; medium weight with spicy leathery cherry notes on the palate.
2007 Coté obscur – 10.00
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan
This is very wild, with meaty leathery notes, definitely a coté sauvage, very animal as the French might, almost too much, with some tannin on the finish.
2006 Lo Vièhl Carignan. 16.00€
The old Carignan vines were planted in 1911. 14 months in 400 litres old barrels. Needs to breathe for the nose to develop. The palate is much more forthcoming, with some fresh spicy notes and a certain appealing rusticity and elegant concentration. John has a website www.carignans.com which extols the virtue of old Carignan; he is one of the Midi’s most enthusiastic exponents of this underrated grape variety.
2009 Un peu de tendresse, Côtes de Brian moelleux. Named after a Jacques Brel song and a blend of Muscat and Viognier 9.00€
Fresh, grapey peach nose, with acidity and soft pithy orange fruit on the palate. Soft honeyed finish, with 20 gms/l residual sugar. You could almost consider it the Languedoc’s answer to Moscato d’Asti but drier.
2008 Douce Providence, Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois. This is the first year John and Nicole has made Muscat de St. Jean – the name of the wine implies that the grapes fell from heaven, and there is indeed a story behind it. The wine was fresh, honeyed and grapey and quite delicious.