Impressions from the Aniane Salon

The annual tasting in Aniane is always a  good showcase for the wines of the Terrasses du Larzac, as well as Montpeyroux and Saint Saturnin.   There were some new discoveries and some old favourites, and also some disappointments.  I went with my tasting buddy Lits and we shared our impressions.

Mas Genista
A new name to me, with some attractive wines, BUT very expensive for what they were.     Generally soft fruit, supple tannins and easy drinking, but somehow lacking depth and grip, even though they said their yields were low – 15 hl/ha. 

Mas de Daumas Gassac
The 2011 white was peachy on the nose, with sweet sugar fruit on the palate.  Very confected, especially at 30€ a bottle
2011 Frizant – 12.00€
Cabernet Sauvignon saigné.  Smelt of rhubarb, a bright pink.  Easy drinking but a rather heavy finish.
2010 MDG red – closed nose, rounded and youthful.  More body than the previous couple of vintages, but still expensive at 30.00€
2008 Cuvée Emile Peynaud – always the same plot of the oldest vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon, now 40 years old.  120€  Nicely rounded with good depth, but again the price is out of proportion to the quality of the wine, which tasted how the basic cuvée should taste.  Nice depth, but nothing very special.   What has happened at Mas de Daumas Gassac?  The wines no longer fulfil their early promise of  the 1980s.

Domaine Coston. 2010 Terrasses du Larzac.  9.00€
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre.  Rounded spicy on nose and palate.  Fruity garrigues.  With ripe fruit and a nice balance.  Quite elegant.

A chat with Magda Joly – I don’t know why but I don’t enjoy Virgile’s wines as much I used to.  I had really wanted to taste new Cuvee Joly Blanc, but it was not available.  And Magda was also pouring their associate, Christopher Johnson-Gilbert’s wine from Domaine Cinq Vents.  He is one of the newer producers in Montpeyroux.  His rosé is ripe and vinous and his 2009 red wine expensive at 18.00€, with a hefty nose of new oak and some tapenade notes.  The oak dominates the palate. 

Domaine Fons Salitis I liked less than in previous year.  The label carries the mention  irreductible vigneron.    This year the wines seemed rather weird and inharmonious.

Les Chemins de Carabote, remembered with enthusiasm from previous tastings, and lived up to expectations.
2011 Rosé – 6.00€
Cinsaut, Grenache and a little Syrah.  Light colour; fresh fruit; nice acidity, a hint of strawberry and a refreshing finish.
2009 Mont Baudile 100% Carignan. – 7.00€
Deep colour.  Some rounded spice ; nice fleshy fruit.  Good bite and balance.  Supple tannins and a touch of tapenade.
2008 Coteaux du Languedoc – 11.00€
A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan.  Quite deep colour. Rounded spice.  Good fruit.  Supple, nice weight and balance and an elegant finish.  A touch of tapenade.
2008 Terrasses du Larzac – 19.00€
Syrah, Grenache and Carignan – 12 – 14 months in barrique.  Good colour.  A touch of oak on the nose.  Quite rounded palate, quite rich, oaky, with tapenade and spice.  Mouth filling and almost too much of a good  thing!

Mas Laval.  Here I really enjoyed the white wines under the label of Les Souls made by Roland Almeras from cool vineyards up near the Pas d’Escalette.  He has also moved his cellar from Salasc  to Soubès.  His associate Joel Laval makes their red wines from vineyards in Aniane. 
2011 les Pampres Blancs – 6.50
40% Chardonnay, 20% each Viognier, Roussanne and Chenin.  Nicely rounded nose and palate.  Only in stainless steel.  White blossom fruit and texture.  Lovely fruit and  very satisfying.
2010 – The same assemblage, with less Chenin.  Viognier in vat and the rest in oak – 15.00€
Some colour; almondy; oaky leesy texture.  .
2010 Lumières d’automne – 85% Viognier, 15% petit Manseng.  Élevage in old wood.  Grains entiers – Passerillé and botrytis.   Picked on 29th November and bottled on 18th May this year.   Golden .  Quite an intense nose.  Dry honey and sweet fruit. Acidity on the finish. 74 gm/l residual sugar.   14.6˚

Domaine Puech Auger – I  was supposed to be going for a cellar visit the following week, but was stood up, thanks to a broken down tractor.  I preferred the white wines to the red.
2011 Mount Baudile a pure Chenin – 7.00€
Quite nicely rounded honeyed fruit with acidity.  Lovely ripe Chenin.
Château de Jonquières – lovely property on the edge of the village of Jonquières.
2009 Pays d’Hérault – 14.00€
Grenache blanc and Chenin.  10 months in 500 litre wood.  Quite a herbal nose.    Quite rich and leesy with some dry honey.  Some weight and body, with hints of fennel.   Good acidity.  Lots of nuances and intriguing.
 2011 Rosé, Pays l’Hérault.  90% Cinsaut (pressed) with some Carignan (saigné)  Plot not in the appellation, hence IGP.  Lightly herbal notes, with some depth.  Nicely rounded fruit.  And fresh acidity
2010 Terrasses du Larzac – 11.00€
All five varieties.  In vat.  Medium colour.  Nice spicy fruit.  Very ripe and gouleyant with a satisfying balancing streak of tannin.
2009 Lansade.  The family name – 11.00€
10 months in wood.  Carignan, with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache.  Quite firm fruit, with more structure and weight.  The oak adds depth.
2008 La Baronnie  – 15.50€
Dominant Syrah and Mourvèdre. 12 months in oak.  Quite rounded, quite solid and dense.  Firm youthful and concentrated, but just a touch lacking in depth.

2007 L’Esprit de la Fontaine. – 25.00€
I didn’t like this wine last  year and I liked it even less this year.  Apparently it spends 24 months in a  tronconique oak vat.  Lacking in fruit with a green edge.  And the 2008 was no better.  I am reliably informed that the property is now up for sale.   So probably the less said the better. 

Mas des Brousses
Xavier Peyraud is the grandson of the legendary Lucien Peyraud from Domaine Tempier in Bandol.  I remember a first vintage now several years ago of delicate light rosé, but sadly for my taste buds, he has not fulfilled his early promise.  His rosé is quite deep in colour and the red wines are rather chunky.  A pure Mourvèdre, label Mataro, simply did not perform. 

Domaine de Familongue
As usual Martine and Jean-Luc were showing an eclectic range
2010 L’Envol de Familongue – 5.70  A blend of Grenache, Clairette,  Roussanne Marsanne, Viognier and Vermentino was delicately herbal with some light fruit.  Easy drinking and no great depth. 
A rosé, made in memory of their son Bastien who died, was a  blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache with some ripe fruit and an elegant finish.
I enjoyed their 2011 Mas des Vignals, Cinsaut  -5.50€
Nicely spicy on nose and palate.  Supple rounded fruit.  Easy to drink. 
And 2008 L’Esprit de Familongue was ripe and supple. 

Domaine de Pelican in Gignac was a new name.  They were showing various Pays d’Oc, Chardonnay, Marsanne, a rose and red blends, both from Bordeaux and Languedoc varieties, but somehow they failed to excite. 

We moved onto Cal Demoura to chat with Isabelle.  Their wines, as expected, were performing beautifully.   Delicious rosé; fresh L’Etincelle.  And more substantial Parole de Pierre; 2010 L’Infidele, Terrasses du Larzac has a lovely balance of fruit.  And les Combariolles 2010 had more depth and structure.  Nicely crafted.   And Feu Sacré again had more structured and the weight of 60 year old Grenache.   Their wines of Cal Demoura have an elegant consistency. 

Domaine Lacoste Germane.
These wines did not excite me as much as in previous years.  M. von Braun  was showing older vintages, 2008 l'Oeillade has dry cherry fruit and some furry tannins.  2005 Faisses had lost its grip and the 2007 Merlot was probably not tasted at the correct temperature – a hazard of summer wine tastings.  It seemed rather sweet.

Domaine des Conquêtes.
I have always liked their white wine.   2010 A blend of Vermentino, Chardonnay, Chenin and Grenache blanc with 12 months separate élevage in wood before blending.  10.00€   Elegant ripe herbal.  Nice body and balance.  Oak well integrated.  Good depth.

And then we had a chat with Bernadette Rouquette from Domaine des Tremières in Nébian.  She makes Coteaux du Salagou, with various blends.  Her white is Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon; the rose, Rigoletto, from Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre was quite sweet.  A Cabernet Franc was typical of the variety, and 2008 Patience from Syrah and Grenache, Coteaux du Languedoc, easy to drink., while Longeur de Temps – 65% Grenache and35% Syrah, Terrasses du Larzac had more depth. 

Reserve d’O
I’ve tasted Marie Chuaffray’s wines in the scrum of the Vinifilles tasting in Montpellier, so was ready for another look.  She has 12.5 hectares in Arboras at 400 metres, and 2005 was her first vintage.  She makes a white and a rosé and three reds.
2011 white – 11.40€
A blend of Chenin, (just ripe)  Grenache (over ripe)  and Roussanne (even riper)  A proportion goes into wood.  All picked together.  Quite a funky nose – for want of a better word.  Some firm acidity and intriguing fruit. And very mineral. 
2011 Rosé – 8.50€
Saigné. Cinsaut with a little Grenache and Syrah.  Light pink.  Lightly herbal; rounded dry fruit.  Very good acidity.  A mineral note and an elegant finish.
2011 Sansoo, St. Saturnin – 10.00€
Syrah and Cinsaut.   Some fresh but confit fruit.  Nice balance and depth.   Rounded with good mouthfeel.  A wine for early drinking.
2008 La Reserve d’O, Terrasses du Larzac – 11.40€
24 months in vat.  Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut.  Colour evolving.  Elegantly maturing cedary spicy nose.  Quite firm and mineral.  Lots of nuances.  Some leathery notes.  Elegance and depth.
2008 Hissez O – 18.00€
Demi muids for 30 months.  Low yielding Syrah – 15 hl/ha with Grenache and Cinsaut.  Medium colour. Quite rounded oak, but nice oak.  Quite confit fruit; ,quite concentrated with the edge of freshness typical of the Terrasses du Larzac.  How will it evolve.
2010 Doux d’O  Late harvest Grenache,  35 gml/l residual sugar.  15.00€
Medium colour.  Rich sweet cherry liqueur, with good acidity and lots of spice.  Sadly there is none in 2011 as the wild boar got to the grapes first.

And we carried on with a couple more sweet wines.
Les Chemins de Carabote, Grenache noir.  Bright young colour.  Ripe sweet fruit,  Medium weight and a touch of spice, Quite elegant, but a touch hollow.  90 gms/l residual sugar. 
2008 La Croix Chaptal rancio.  Clairette 3 years in fut.  8 – 10 hl/ha.  Quite brown in colour.  Very concentred, very honey with very good acidity.  Quite a honeyed finish.  Not unlike a vin de paille in taste.  A good note on which to finish.


AlanM said…
Interesting to see you prefer so many whites, that has been my experience this summer. Sadly Mas Gabriel were out of their brilliant Carignan Blanc but Peter kindly spent a lot of time with us and an excellent, informative vineyard tour. Really exciting to see their wines get better and better.
Big diappointment of the year has been the restaurant O Bontemps, definitely a couple of notches down on last year. One week to go and a few tastings to fit in
Simon said…
I had a very enjoyable bottle of Mas de Daumas Gassac 2009 (Red) two weeks ago (bought from a wine merchant in Limoux, drunk in the foothills of the Pyrennees).

I don't know this wine well, but was very impressed with the ripe fruit yet minty freshness, considerable finesse/balance and refinement of the tannins.

I thought it was cracking value for 28 Euros, but then again I had just been to Bordeaux the week before!

I agree Mas Gabriel is getting better and better - let's hope they get some white vines. I hadn't really noticed that I preferred whites to reds at Aniane, but I do think the white wines from the Languedoc are greatly underrated.

I've not been to O Bontemps this year - did I hear someone say that it is up for sale?? Or any rate that he is greatly reducing the time he is open, and the number of covers. And have you been to the Presbytere in Vailhan since it changed hands earlier this year. It's worth the winding road upto the village.

And delighted that you enjoyed the 2009 Mas de Daumas Gassac. I just don't think the wines are as good as they were.
AlanM said…
Yes we went to the Auberge. I think I posted to you earlier in the season that we went at Easter when it changed hands and there was an improvement in the food if not the prices :)
The journey up there via Roujan and Neffies is always a treat
Quite agree; a lovely drive, especially in evening sunshine.

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