Château de l’Engarran is one of the most beautiful of the Languedoc chateaux, situated just outside Montpellier within the cru of St. Georges d'Orques. The gardens are a delight. I first went there about fifteen years ago when I was writing The Wines of the South of France, and have returned fairly regularly ever since. One time I was with my artist friend Sue, who painted while I tasted, and then subsequently exhibited her paintings at L’Engarran, and my most recent visit was during Vinisud for a vertical tasting of their top wine, Quetton St. Georges, St. Georges d’Orques.

The château was looking enchanting as were the gardens, all floodlit and showing off the statues to best advance, and the two sisters, Diane and Constance, with their parents are welcoming hosts. Diane is the winemaker, while her sister does sales, so she is responsible for the colourful descriptions below of each vintage. Apologies I have not translated them as they read so much better in French. Quetton St. Georges is aged partially in barrels, half new and half of one wine, and then blended with the half aged in vat, and the whole cuvée is then aged for another 14 months in vat. Syrah dominates the blend, as much as 75%, but each year Diane takes the best wines for Quetton St. Georges.

2009 Un grand et beau Bébé! Habillé d’Or
78% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 7% Mourvèdre The first vintage that they have bottled in magnum.
Deep colour, young. Quite a ripe balsamic nose and some ripe tapenade notes on the palate. Rich fruit; quite tannic with a firm backbone. Very youthful, with plenty of ageing potential

2008 – Tu es mon millésime ....tout le Bonheur que tu m’as donné
75% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre 10% Grenache
Deep young colour. Again some balsamic notes, but more elegant than the 2009. Quite supple, ripe fruit on the palate. Quite powerful and intense, but not too tannic. Supple and appealing.

2006 - Noir, c’est Noir! Une main de fer dans un gant de velours
92% Syrah 8% Grenache. Medium colour. Quite a sturdy nose, with some oak. A firm tannic palate – definitely an iron hand – quite tight knit with firm fruit. Still very youthful. Will develop

2005 Le bel hommme! Bodybuildé et généreux.
80% Syrah and 20% Grenache.
While I have doubts about that particular bit of Franglais, it was quite an apt description of the wine. A rounded palate, with quite dense ripe fruit and tannins. Quite solid balsamic notes on the nose. Rich and rounded.

2002 La grande Demoiselle ou les efforts récompensés
80% Syrah 10% Carignan, 7% Grenache, 3% Mourvèdre.
Medium colour. Quite ripe notes on the nose, with a vegetal hint. Very easy ripe fruit on the palate; supple with soft tannins. Lighter and less powerful than other vintages, but lovely easy drinking.

2001 Un puissance au maculin; une réussite contre vents et marées.
74% Syrah, 16% Carignan, 10% Grenache
Medium colour, showing a little development. Quite ripe cassis on the nose. Supple palate, ripe and mouth filling, a touch of oak in the background, with a tannic streak, Medium weight with some elegance. And my favourite in the line up.

1999 - L’année de la tournade! Une bonne étoile veillait sur l’Engarran. On 5th October a tornado tore the roof off the cellar, just at the end of the harvest, so that the vats finished their fermentations under an open sky.

Quite a developed colour with a cedary note on the palate. Quite rich and supple, rounded with a balancing streak of tannin. Very harmonious. Has aged beautifully.

And the next day I went back to the fair and tasted the rest of their wines: Constance teased Diane about her inability to stop making yet another new wine, which she needs to sell. And Diane talked about how she vinifies everything in small lots, so that she has plenty of blending possibilities, with about fifty different cuvées, when it comes to the final wines. So here was a new cuvée, from one particular vineyard

2009 Le Parc - still in vat. And aged in new wood. 92% Syrah, 6% Grenache and 2% Mourvèdre.
Good colour. Quite rich dense and ripe, with some supple tannins. Quite intense with some lovely fruit.

2010 le Parc. Quite solid dense and ripe, with olives and black berries. Quite dense and solid palate. Good ripe fruit.

And then onto wines in bottle:

2011 St. Georges d’Orques rosé 82% Grenache 18% Cinsaut. Saigné – 8.20€
Ripe and juice. Medium weight ripe fruit with good acidity and some raspberry notes.

2011 Lionne blanc Pays d’Oc Sauvignon – 8.80€
Fresh and crisp with some varietal character

2010 Adélys Pays d’Oc 14.70€
Again Sauvignon and vinified in oak, with well integrated oak on the palate, and nicely rounded.

2010 Languedoc, Ste Cecile – 8.60€
56% Syrah, 44% Grenache
Medium colour. Quite ripe fruit with some appealing spice on the nose. Good balance with a touch of tannin. No wood.

2009 Tradition, Grès de Montpellier - 11.60€
The rules for Grès de Montpellier require a maximum yield of 45 hl/ha; a minimum of 70% Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre in the blend, including a minimum of 10% Grenache, and 16 months élevage. There is also a special embossed bottle with a Languedoc cross, from the 2011 vintage. This blend is 54% Syrah, 21% Carignan, 14% Grenache, 9% Mourvèdre and just 2% of some very ripe Cinsaut.

Quite a deep colour. Quite a rounded, ripe nose with some black fruit. On the palate some tannin and structure. The wine has shoulders. Medium weight with good fruit and complexity. 30% of the blend was aged in barrel.

2009 Grés de Montpellier, Grenat Majeur – 14.50€
62% Grenache, 16% Syrah, 16% Mourvèdre, 6% Cinsaut 30% barrel aged.
The opposite of the previous wine, with Grenache very much the dominant flavour. Medium colour. Quite ripe cherry fruit. Very ripe and perfumed. Liqueur cherries, with a streak of tannin.

2008 Caprice de l’Engarran, Vin issu de raisins surmûris. Pure Grenache Noir - 15€ for 50 cls.
Deep young colour. Ripe nose and palate, with some acidity and tannin. It is sweet and rich, but the streak of tannin and acidity give it a fresh finish. Try with chocolate!

The gardens are open to the public on the first weekend in June and for the Journees de la Patrimoine on the third weekend in September, and are well worth a detour, if not a journey.

And for a look at Sue's work -


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