GIROFLET - A postscript to Domaine Begude
James Kinglake’s winemaker is Laurent Girault, who has his own small vineyard in Abeilhan, Domaine de Péras, so James very generously included Laurent’s wines in our tasting. Laurent has also worked further afield, spending a vintage at Rippon Vineyards on Lake Wanaka in Central Otago. I was immediately intrigued by his wine. He explained that he planted his white vineyard in 2004, with a high density, on the limestone and clay plateau between the villages of Abeilhan and Alignan-du-Vent. He has just 63 ares of white grapes – Chardonnay, Roussanne, Viognier – Petite Arvine –‘because I like it’, Chenin Blanc and Petit Manseng. 7000 vines in total. Giroflet is the name of a local flower.
The 2010 vintage was quite golden in colour; it was kept in vat and bottled in May 2011. There were herbal notes, and nutty nuances on the palate. It was all very intriguing and unexpected. I don’t think my tasting notes really do justice to the complexity. Just 2000 bottles.
And the red wine comes from vines planted in 1925, sixteen different varieties, all mixed up. The most important are Grenache Noir, Cinsaut, Syrah and Counoise, but there is also Aramon, Carignan, Grand Noir de la Calmette, with some white interlopers, Muscat and Macabeo. Laurent couldn’t remember them all and explained that he had replaced missing vines by sélection massale, taking his own cuttings. In 2008 he made the wine from all 16 varieties, but for 2009, he selected the best for his wine. The élevage is half in vat and half in barrel for twelve months, followed by a further twelve months in vat, with minimum use of sulphur. One hectare of vines has given him just 1500 bottles. We tasted the 2008. Quite a firm nose, with fresh youthful cherry fruit. And more spicy cherries on the palate. A lovely balance. Some tannin; fresh and youthful; delicious liquorice perfume. And wonderfully original and unexpected. Just another example of the never-ending surprises of the Languedoc.