Organics, Biodynamics and Vins Natures at the Maison du Languedoc

A day of tasting organic wines at the Maison du Languedoc.  This is now an annual event, with fifteen producers exhibiting their wines.   Some were familiar,  but there were also some rewarding new discoveries.   What follows are some highlights: 

First was Domaine de l’Ancienne Mercerie, a Faugères from the village of Autignac.  They make two cuvées, Les Petites Mains and Couture, and since Francois and Natalie’s home used to be the older haberdashers in the village, they have retained the association with the names of their two wines

Les Petites Mains, 2011 – 9.00€
50% Carignan, with Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah.  Aged in vat.   Quite ripe berry fruit on the nose and palate; lots of red fruit and spice, with a firmly youthful tannic streak.  Medium weight.

Les Petites Mains 2010
Carignan 50% , with Grenache ad Mourvèdre.  Quite a fruity nose, with some ripe spice on the palate; some mineral notes and a firm streak of tannin.   

Couture 2010
Carignan, Syrah and Grenache.  François observed that they have quite a lot of old Carignan, and you are only allowed 40% maximum in the blend of Faugères.   Rounded ripe nose, with quite a firm youthful palate.  Tight knit and structured with ripe red fruits.  Still very youthful.  Élevage in wood fills out the palate, and the oak is nicely integrated.

Couture 2009
Carignan, Syrah and Grenache.  Quite ripe and warm on the nose, with some spice and a touch of oak.  The oak is well integrated and on the palate there is a firm tannic streak, with sturdy youthful fruit, and a long finish. 

Liz Bowen from Domaine Sainte Croix, whose wines I tasted at the Outsiders’ tasting earlier in the month, was showing some different wines.

2011 Pour Boire, Vin de France – 12.00€
87% Carignan and 13% Syrah.  Vin Nature.  No SO2.
Rounded ripe cherry fruit, ripe and smoky, with some supple tannins and restrained opulence.  This worked very nicely and was not too wild......!  A lovely refreshing finish. 

2007 Celèstra, Corbières   - 20.00€  14.5º
80% Grenache Noir and 20% Carignan.  Aged in wood for two years. This was solid, ripe and rounded with some dense fruit on the nose, and rich and concentrated on the palate.  Quite confit and almost sweet with some cherry liqueur notes.  Quite a heady finish. 

Château Bousquette in St. Chinian.
Isabelle Perret was showing a range of red St. Chinian.  I like her simplest wine best, 2010 Mas des Huppes, with a hoopoe on the label.  5.90€   70% Carignan with Grenache.  Medium colour.  Very ripe spicy tapenade nose.  Rounded and spicy, with black fruit and supple tannins.   Her other wines were all quite soft and made for easy drinking.

Mas Delmas
Pierre Andre Delmas made his first wines in 2005, after a varied career doing all sorts of other things, that  I couldn’t quite work out how he had managed to fit it all in.  And he has developed his vineyard with his Catalan wife Mercedes. 

2009 Marie Delmas, Côtes du Roussillon Villages – 10.00€
Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.  Some ripe spice on the nose.  Quite a ripe palate.  Medium weight.  Rounded finish.  Full of sunshine.   There are apparently five generations of Marie in the family, hence the name of this cuvée.

There were other red Côtes du Roussillon Villages, which were ripe and fleshier.  And also a Côtes Catalanes, 2010 Dona Lisa, which was fermented and aged in oak. It was quite solid and rounded, ripe and quite resinous on the nose, with a firm streak of acidity and mouth filling white blossom fruit.  

And even better were the Muscats, mostly vins doux, but also one dry Muscat:
2011 Marie Delmas Muscat Sec
Very perfumed Muscat, both d’Alexandrie and petits grains.  Very perfumed Muscat fruit; quite ripe and rich, with the characteristic bitter finish of Muscat.

Muscat de Rivesaltes – no vintage given. Half Muscat d’Alexandrie and half Muscat à petits grains.
Fresh, elegant and honeyed, with a slightly bitter streak.

2008 L’Or, Muscat de Rivesaltes – 14.00€
This had spent two years in a barriques.    Quite a light amber colour.  Dry and nutty on the nose, with a firm dry oaky streak on the palate, but also with rounded vanilla fruit.  Nutty and rich, with great length.  Long and lingering and quite delicious.

2005 Muscat de Rivesaltes – 55.00€
This has spent six years in barriques, with a racking, but no topping up, every six months. Very intriguing.  A firm streak on wood on nose and palate, with some rich fruit and dry honey.  Lots of nuances and layers of flavour.  Great length.   In fact it was the last wine I tasted, and a great note on which to finish. 

Domaine Grand Guilhem
Gilles Contrepoids was at the same event last year, this time with two wines.  His vineyards are in Cascastel des Corbières, so in the higher vineyards of Fitou, well inland. 

2010 Fitou
Carignan and Grenache Noir.
Medium colour.  A firm sturdy nose.  Quite firm but nicely balanced with structured fruit and tannin.  Has the characteristic rugged quality of Fitou.

2011 Angels, Fitou
Again Grenache Noir and Carignan.  A selection of old vines and aged in barriques.
Deep colour.  Quite firm and structured; solid,  ripe and rounded with a firm tannin streak and more depth on the palate.  A good contrast.

There were a couple of stylish Corbières
Sandrine Puech of Domaine de la Jument Rousse has 6.7 hectares outside the village of Lagrasse and she was showing just one wine, a blend of Grenache Noir and Carignan with just 5% Syrah.  It spends nine months in wood, in barrels that have previously been used for some Chardonnay.   Medium colour.  Quite a rounded nose.  A touch of tannin.  Oak nicely integrated with ripe rounded fruit, with a youthful streak of tannin.  Good balance.  Nicely mouth filling.  And I completely forgot to ask the price.

Château Montfin is in the hills above the village of Peyriac de Mer.   Jérôme Estève explained that his father bought the land, a rundown estate in 2002., which they have since renovated.  There is some very old Carignan. 

2011 Corbières blanc - 6.50€
Roussanne and Grenache blanc, vinified in vat.  Quite leesy and herbal, with some firm fruit.  A mineral streak; some acidity and some fennel on the palate.

2011 Cuvée  St Jacques, Corbières  - 9.00€
Roussanne and Grenache; fermented in wood and élevage for six months.  Some skin contact.  Light colour.  Quite rounded and textured with an oaky streak and some soft acidity.  Quite ripe and long, with good mouth feel, and again some fennel on the palate.   

2011 Carignena, Corbières  - 5.50€
Carignan noir , with some Grenache noir.  Elevage in vat.  Some carbonic maceration.  A fresh peppery note on the nose.  Rounded with subtle pepper and a dry finish.  Attractive rustic note of Carignan.  Good balance.

2011 Cuvée Pauline, Corbières – 8.50€
Syrah, Carignan and 20% Carignan noir – aged in wood.  Quite solid rounded fruit. Some good spice.  Quite ripe, with the oak nicely integrated.  Structured and youthful.  Potential.

2011 Cuvée Mathilde, Corbieres  - 11.50€
60% Carignan with 40% Grenache Noir.  Medium colour.  Quite ripe and rounded with some sturdy fruit on the nose.   Carignan vinified by maceration carbonique and aged in wood.  No wood for the Grenache.   Very ripe fruit on the palate.  Marc Dubernet is their oenologist.

Domaine Loupia

This was the lone Cabardès.
2011 Cuvée Domaine – 6.00€
Medium colour. Quite rounded with  touch of spice.  Quite a fleshy palate, with a little pepper and some supple fruit.  Less structured than some Cabardès.

2010 Cuvée Tradition – 7.70€
This spends six to eight months in wood.  Medium colour. Quite a firm nose, with touch of spice.  Quite rounded and ripe on the palate, and some attractive spice.  Again more supple than I normally expect for Cabardès, and no great depth, but none the worse for that.

Domaine Sainte Marie des Pins
An estate between Carcassonne and Limoux, making IGP Cité de Carcassonne.  Best of all, I liked:

2011 La Soulane – 8.50€
Grenache Noir and Syrah.  Maceration carbonique and élevage in wood.  Light fruit on the nose.  Quite round with a light tannic streak.  Quite supple. For easy drinking. 

Marc Leseney in Limoux makes two wines
NV Blanquette de Limoux from Mauzac and Chardonnay, which was rounded and creamy with good acidity.

Blanquette de Limoux, méthode ancestrale   Pure Mauzac.  Soft and slightly apply and slightly sweet.   The méthode ancestrale wines can be quite rich and sweet, but this was more subtle and restrained.

Domaine Bordes, with Philippe Bordes. 
A St Chinian estate that was new to me, and also making IGP Monts de la Grage as his blends did not conform to the AC.

2011 Les Narys, St. Chinian – 8.40€
Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre aged in old wood.  Syrah and Carignan grown on limestone and the Grenache and Mourvèdre on schist.
Medium colour.  Some oak, and some mineral notes on the nose.  Good ripe fruit; quite rounded; well integrated oak, with a ripe finish and some spice.

2010 Peyroulières, Monts de la Grage – 12.00€ – which means les pierres qui roulent and is the name of a stream.  14 months in wood.
100% Mourvèdre.    Quite a firm structured nose and palate.  Medium weight; some tannin.  A firm finish.

2009 La Plage, Monts de la Grage.
Carignan planted in 1898 and Syrah planted in 1975, which makes it some of the first Syrah to be planted in the region.  Young colour.  Quite rounded ripe cherry fruit, with a tannic streak.  Quite a structured palate with some spice.  Youthful.  Potential. 

Marie Fabre-Teisserenc was showing various wines from the Fabre family vineyards in the Corbières.  My favourite was

2011 L’Orangerie du Luc, Languedoc.  5.50€
A blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache, with a little Mourvèdre.  Aged in concrete tank.  Deep colour. Quite rounded, with fresh red fruit on the nose and palate.  Medium weight.  Easy drinking.

There was one of the longer established properties of the Pic St. Loup, Château de Lascaux in the village of Vacquières.   With 65 hectares, Jean-Benoit Cavalier also makes IGP Val de Montferrand and AOC Languedoc.   Needless to say, I liked his most expensive wines best!

2010 Les Pierres d’Argent, Coteaux du Languedoc – Pic St. Loup is never white. – 15.50€
40% Marsanne and Roussanne, with h20% Vermentino.  Oak ageing.   Quite a firm nutty nose, and on the palate nice depth, with leesy notes, and leafy fruit.  Well integrated oak.  Quite characterful.

2007 Les Nobles Pierres Rouge, Pic. St. Loup – 17.50€
Syrah with 20% Grenache Noir.  14 months in barrel.  Quite solid, dense ripe and oak.   A touch of tapenade and still youthful and mouth filling.

Friends were there too.  I couldn’t resist a taste of Manu Pageot’s La Rupture, even though I know the wine quite well.  

2011 Pays d’Hérault – Firm Sauvignon on fruit.  Good minerality and depth, with balancing acidity and satisfactory weight.  The cépage is incidental to the character of the wine. 

And next to him was Virgile Joly with two new wines for Vintage Roots, Classiques Blanc from Grenache blanc, with some appealing ripe white blossom fruit and Classiques Rouge from Grenache and Syrah. 

2011 Le Joly Blanc from Grenache blanc, with 20% Roussanne had more weight.  Quite ripe and rounded with some white blossom fruit.  Nice balance.

2010 Saturne blanc, Coteaux du Languedoc – 11.40€ 
95% Grenache blanc with 5% Roussanne.  A slightly tarry nose, with some herbal notes on the palate.  Good acidity and some intriguing layers of flavour.

2009 Saturne Rouge, Coteaux du Languedoc – 13.40€
Grenache noir, Syrah and Carignan in equal parts.  Medium colour.  Quite firm fruit on the nose, with good structure and rounded palate, with some appealing spice.  Good balance. Medium weight. 


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