A LANGUEDOC MOMENT
Easter Saturday was a spring day with bright sunshine, tempered by white clouds racing across the clear sky – in other words, the perfect day for a walk up in the hills behind the village, with our friends, Gary and Colleen. The track took us past Lizzie and Ali’s vines – they have had a team of helpers staying for the past week and the vineyard was looking impeccable, free of weeds, beautifully pruned, with the first leaves appearing on the stubby vines. Further up the track by the restored capitelle, we met a herd of goats, their bells playing a gentle tune. And then it is time for our picnic. I have pretty simple ideas about picnics – ham and baguette usually does me nicely, but not Gary and Colleen. Out of their rucksack came pissaladière, olives, cheese, half a chicken and a bottle of wine. It was 2008 Z de l’Arjolle. To the best of my knowledge Louis-Marie Tesserenc at Domaine de l’Arjolle in the village of Pouzolles is the only person in the Languedoc who has thought to plant Zinfandel. The vines have now been in production for a few years, I think à titre experimental, rather than fully accepted by French bureaucracy, and consequently the wine is a simple vin de table. And it was the perfect wine for the moment, with a deep young colour; a touch of oak on the nose, and on the palate some lovely peppery notes and black fruit. There was a streak of tannin, and a touch of acidity, nicely rounded and not too heavy, and with that slightly sweet and sour note that I associate with Zinfandel And it still had some youthful freshness. We sat and savoured it, looking out over the garrigues, with thyme and cistus coming into flower. And the thought crossed our minds that it was better than many a Californian Zinfandel.