Domaine de l'Arjolle

One of my favourite local estates is Domaine de l’Arjolle, and it had been a while since I had tasted with Louis-Marie Teisserenc.    This omission was remedied last Monday.   The suggestion was to meet at the cellar and then go onto our local restaurant in Vailhan for some older vintages over dinner – an invitation that I could not possibly refuse.  The wines are all either Côtes de Thongue, or Pays d’Oc,  or maybe Vin de France. 

2011 Sauvignon  - 7.30€
Includes 25% Sauvignon Gris, which they had first planted in 2002.  Louis-Marie has always enthused about Sauvignon, influenced by a friend who used to work for Ladoucette in the Loire Valley.   He talked about the experiments that are being conducted to determine the right moment to pick Sauvignon so that you obtained minerality and avoid over ripeness.  Colour is all important.    And this Sauvignon was beautifully mineral with a firm stony finish and good acidity – and quite unlike most Sauvignon from the Midi.

2011 Equilibre– 7.30€
A blend of Sauvignon 60% and 40% Viognier.  He planted Viognier later than Sauvignon, in about 1980.  I don’t think I’ve ever come across a Sauvignon / Viognier blend before – has anyone else?  This combined the best of both grape varieties, with some ripe peachy fruit, balanced by quite fresh pithy acidity.  Very intriguing.

2010 Chardonnay, Delphine de Margon – 7.30€
Light nose.  Quite a leesy, oaky nose.  30% fermented in wood, including a little American oak, to give slightly toasted character.  Fresh acidity.   Good balance.    Louis-Marie observed that he was making more white wine these days, with 40 hectares out of 100 devoted to white varieties.

2011 Muscat à petits grains – 8.60€
The Muscat grapiness leaps out of the glass.  And very grapey pithy fruit on the palate.  Firm acidity with the dry finish typical of Muscat.

2010 Equinoxe – 11.50€
40% Viognier and Sauvignon, with 20% Muscat.  60% fermented in  barrel.  Some malo; some without malo.  Some French oak and some American oak.   Light golden.  Quite leesy oak.  Intriguing.  Layers of flavour on the palate.  A touch of oak and potential to age.  Nicely mouth filling.

2009 Dernière Cueillette.  Chardonnay.  – 12.00€
They begin the Chardonnay harvest in the middle of August – two thirds of the crop goes for a sparkling wine.  Most of the rest is destined for Delphine de Margon, and some is left until late October.  That is picked and left in a barrel, outside, until the following September, so that it becomes a bit rancio and oxidised, and then it is blended with some more conventionally barrel-aged Chardonnay.  The result is a bit like a vin jaune from the Jura.  Golden colour.  Dry nutty notes, like vin jaune, but not quite so powerful.  Very intriguing.  Notes of walnut and hazelnut and some dry toffee.   Long with a lift on the finish.  15˚

2011 Allégria – 5.50€    
Muscat, with a touch of CO2 and some residual sugar.  Soft with a touch of honey and some pithy grapey Muscat notes.  Good acidity on the finish and very lightly fizzy.  This is intended for popular appeal, for the new younger drinker.   10˚

2010 Méridienne – 11.50€ 
40% Syrah and Cabernet Franc with 20% Grenache.  An élevage en fut, so that it is quite a substantial rosé,  ‘a rosé de repas, for people who don’t really like rosé’.  Lightly nutty notes on both nose and palate.  Nicely toasted.  Good acidity and quite nicely mouth filling.

2011 Delphine de Margon – 7.30€
40% Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Carignan.   Grown on argilo-calcaire in Margon.   Good colour.  Ripe fruit. Some peppery notes and some fresh tannins.  Nice fruit and slightly rustic note, in the best sense of the word. 

2010 Cabernet- Merlot  45% / 55% - 7.30€
Louis-Marie has sold this cuvée to the Wine Society for over 20 years.  12 months in wood.  Quite a firm nose.  I preferred the palate, which was fresh with some cassis notes.  It was more Cabernet Franc than Cabernet Sauvignon.

K – 100% Carménère, Vin de France – 12.00€
They have just 1.12 hectares of Carménère and are planning to plant some more.  I am not aware of any other producers of Carmen in the Midi.  Good colour.  Quite peppery with a ‘green ‘note that was reminiscent of Cabernet Franc.  Riper palate than nose suggests.  Good balance with a fresh finish. 

2008 Z  - Zinfandel de l’Arjolle, Vin de France - 12.00€
Deep colour.  A raisiny nose, ripe and rich.  Quite tannic and gutsy.  Rounded ripe palate balanced with some firm tannins.  Quite characterful.  Again no one else grows Zinfandel, to my knowledge.

2010 Synthèse, Merlot – 11.50€
12 months barrel ageing – 40% new.  Good colour; quite rounded smoky nose.  Ripe fruit.  Picked about 12 days later than the Merlot for other cuvées.  Long and ripe, with balancing tannins.

2009 Cabernet – 11.50€ 
30% Cabernet Franc to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.  12 months in oak.  Quite rounded and youthful with cassis and oak on nose and palate.  Quite firm tannins and still very youthful, but with good balance and body.  They do a careful tri at the harvest to remove any unripe berries so that they avoid any green notes

A lovely selection of wines.  And then we adjourned to Le Presbytère in Vailhan, which changed hands earlier this year.  The view is that the food is even better, and Madame has a winning smile.  Louis-Marie had prepared an icebox  - in consideration of the summer temperatures - of older bottles:

2005 Equinoxe -   Quite a deep golden colour, with a mature nose and lovely ripe nutty fruit, balanced with good acidity.  Rich mouth feel and texture.

2000 – Equinoxe  -  Amber colour; intriguingly mature  but not maderised.   Honeyed with acidity on the finish.   Rounded body and weight, with balancing acidity

2003 Cabernet
Deep colour.  Smoky cedary fruit.  Lovely balance.  Still very young and fresh, especially for a 2003.  A lovely surprise.  It had aged beautifully, and was delicious with the boeuf de l’Aubrac that was our main course.

2000 Cabernet.  This was even better, with some lovely cedary notes on nose and palate.  A certain freshness, and very elegant.

2002 Paradoxe
40% Syrah, 20% each Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache.  Spicy fruit.  Tannins fondu.  Still very youthful, with acidity behind the fruit.  Fresh with some furry tannins.  Good depth.  And some rounded spice.

2002 Lyre  Vendanges tardives de Muscats à petits grains.  Passerillé grapes.  In oak for 10 months.  Acidity, apricots and marmalade.  And quite delicious.

2008 Merlot muté sur grains.  Fruit and freshness.  Balanced sugar and acidity.  Lovely red fruit with a tannic note. Very intriguing and original and delicious with our rich, dark chocolate dessert.

Louis-Marie has been making wine for over thirty years and you sense that his curiosity is boundless – he will never stop trying something new, and he succeeds and manages a wide range of wines extraordinarily well.  A talented  winemaker, with a great sense of humour.


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