DOMAINE LES FILLES DE SEPTEMBRE
A chance encounter with Françoise Géraud on the Top 100 Vins de Pays stand at the London Wine Trade Fair led me to visit Domaine les Filles de Septembre in the village of Abeilhan. Their Cuvée Delphine de St. André, a PGI Cotes de Thongue, was in the line up, and very good it was too, with some lovely spicy fruit.
Vins de Pays are supposed to be called PGI or Protected Geographical Identity these days. The Cotes de Thongue is one of the more individual ones of the Midi, with aspirations to becoming an appellation in tis own right. It encompasses about thirty producers with vineyards in the villages of the valley of the Thongue, including Puissalicon and Magalas to Pézenas and adjoins the appellations of Faugères and Pézenas. All their vineyards of Les Filles de Septembre are around the village of Abeilhan; the soil is clay and limestone and the altitude relatively low, at 70 metres.
The first question was: why the name of the estate? The simple reply was: daughters born in September. Francoise and her husband Roland explained that they are the fifth generation of a family estate, but the first to put any wine in bottle. When they took over in 1995, they bottled just two wines, a red and white, and about 2000 or 3000 bottles of each. They now bottle about a third of their production, some 60,000 bottles, and make eleven different wines. The rest they sell en vrac to local négociants and further afield.
We tasted our way through most of the range, with Francoise and Roland providing a cheerful commentary.
2009 Sauvignon, Vin de Pays d’Oc – 4.00€ Quite fresh pithy fruit, on both nose and palate. Medium weight with some hints of minerality
2009 Viognier, Vin de Pays d’Oc – 8.90€
Elegantly perfumed peachy nose with some ripe fruit on the palate. Medium weight with refreshing acidity. Lovely varietal character.
2009 Muscat, Vin de Pays d’Oc – 5.90€
Quite pithy, grapey Muscat fruit on both nose and plate. The slightly biter orange finish that is typical of Muscat. Medium weight and refreshing
2008 Clos Marine, Cotes de Thongue, - 6.50€
This is named after a daughter and is a blend of 50% Sauvignon, 30% Viognier and 20% Chardonnay, each aged separately in new wood for just three months up to Christmas. They do a regular bâttonage, and then the blend is kept in vat for a few months before bottling. I discerned Sauvignon the nose with Viognier dominating the palate, with a buttery edge of Chardonnay. It was textured and vinous and quite mouth filling.
2009 Rosé, Cotes de Thongue – 4.00€
A blend of equal parts of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Cinsaut and Cabernet Sauvignon, mostly pressed almost immediately, with minimal time on the skins. The colour is pretty and pale, with fresh dry raspberry fruit on the nose, with a fresh palate. It was appealing and elegant.
And then onto reds;
2009 Rouge Tradition, Cotes de Thongue
From Merlot, with a little Grenache and Carignan.
Quite deep colour; quite rich and plumy on the nose, with rounded fruit. Quite dense and tannin, with a slightly sweet finish.
2008 Danae, Cotes de Thongue, - 5.40€
A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot, with élevage in vat. This is named after another daughter. Medium colour; some cassis on the nose, but also a hint green. Quite a fresh perfumed palate. Medium weight and fairly easy drinking.
2007 Cuvée Delphine de St. André, Cotes de Thongue. 7.00€
Syrah blended with 20% Carignan that is made by carbonic maceration, It is all given 12 months barrel ageing, and the oak is well integrated. There are peppery notes on the nose and palate, with hints of oak underneath the fruit, with quite a firm finish. Some ageing potential but good drinking now, especially with a warming winter daube.
2005 Manon des Vignes, Cotes de Thongue – 15.00€
This is original, predominantly Petit Verdot, with just a little Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, with two years ageing in wood. Deep colour; solid dense dry cassis fruit on nose and palate; a sturdy tannic mouthful, which needs time to soften.
Vendange d’Automne vin de table – 14.50€
A blend of Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier; they leave half a hectare of grapes until the end of October; for the dry wine, the grapes are picked in the middle of August. The late harvested grapes have a potential alcohol of 22 – 23 so they are nicely raisined. Golden colour; quite fresh and honey, with hits of quince paste and a refreshing acidity on finish.
They also make a red Vendange d’Automne from Syrah and Grenache, again leaving half a hectare of grapes. 10.00€ for 50 cls. Medium colour, with dry cherries and spice on the nose; quite fresh with a slight concentrated, confit finish. This would be perfect with chocolate enthused Francoise.