Quite simply, Clos Centeilles is one of my favourite Minervois estates. It was created by Daniel and Patricia Domergue in the late 1980s and these days, it is Patricia rather than Daniel who makes the wine, with their daughter Cécile showing an interest in eventually following in her parents’ footsteps.
Patricia and Cecile were in London last week, which was an opportunity for Patricia to present her wines at the Maison du Languedoc, along with a few examples of the cru of Minervois la Livinière, for which she is president of the syndicat. Patricia and Daniel are passionate about the diversity of vines that grew in the vineyards of the Midi before they were destroyed by phylloxera and have planted a small vineyard of grape varieties such as Picpoul Noir, Oeillade, Riveirenc and Terret Noir. And Cinsaut is another enthusiasm. So often it is dismissed as suitable only for rosé, whereas at Centeilles they make two wines to disprove that idea, one pure Cinsaut and one predominantly Cinsaut. Cinsaut is an antioxidant and if you give it a long cuvaison as much as two months, with a low yield in the first place, you will obtain fine results. The grapes must be really ripe, and you must not put it in wood, as it will lose its fruit. It also withstands very dry conditions.
2009 C de Centeilles white, Côtes du BrianThis is made from old white varieties, Araignan Blanc, Riveirenc Blanc and Gris, and Grenache Gris. The colour is light golden, with a delicate nose, with notes of quince, fennel and herbs. There is good acidity on the palate with some fresh herbal fruit and a slightly bitter finish. Not a wine to age.
2006 C de Centeilles red, MinervoisAlso from old varieties, Piquepoul Noir, Riveirenc noir, Oeillade, Morastel à jus noir.,
Quite a warm noise with delicate spice, and on the palate, warm sunshine with southern spice and an underlying freshness and elegance on the finish. Quite intriguing.
2007 Carignanissime de Centeilles, Minervois.
From old vines, 80 years or more. Medium colour. Some ripe sour cherries, griottes, on the nose. Slightly dry leathery palate, with some cherry fruit. Medium tannin structure. Rounded with a dry finish. A fine example of Carignan.
2006 Campagne de Centeilles, MinervoisMainly Cinsaut. Quite a light red colour, just beginning to age. Ripe cherry fruit on the nose with a rounded supple palate, with cherry fruit. Soft tannins and a nicely rounded finish.
2003 Capitelle de Centeilles, MinervoisThis is the cuvée of pure Cinsaut which shows just how well Cinsaut can perform in red wines and with ageing potential.
Medium colour; this was a warm year, and you get ripe warm fruit on both nose and palate, with soft cherry and the flavours of other red fruit. A touch alcoholic on the finish.
2000 Capitelle de CenteillesThis was a cooler year, and the wine is fresher, with appealing spicy red fruit. Medium weight and a more focussed structure. Nice balanced and remarkably youthful for a wine that is 10 years from a grape variety that is usually deemed to be unsuitable for structured red wine. It’s always good to upset preconceived ideas.
And next we had a small vertical of Clos Centeilles, Minervois la Livinière, which is a blend of more or less equal parts of Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir and Syrah, aged in old wood.
2007: Medium young colour. Fresh peppery fruit with some cherry notes. Rounded peppery fresh fruit; youthful with nicely integrated tannins.
2004: Medium colour. Quite warm cherry fruit on the nose. Quite a perfumed palate, with slightly meaty hints of Mourvèdre.
2003: The warm vintage. Quite a firm leathery nose; rounded leathery fruit on the palate. Ripe and rounded; quite perfumed with a firm finish.
2002: A good vintage in the Minervois, much better than the eastern half of the Languedoc. Quite perfumed with fresh cherry fruit on the nose. Rounded fresh fruit; medium weight; supple tannins and nicely balanced. Developing beautifully.
2000: the colour is beginning to develop. Quite a warm rounded nose and palate, with a leathery finish. Some appealing notes of maturity, demonstrating just how well wines from the Languedoc can age.
More on Minervois la Liviniere in my next posting.