A mural at Château Camplazens

La Clape is one of my favourite parts of the Languedoc.  It is a world apart, close to the sea but set away from the hurly burly of beach.  The scenery is wild and dramatic, with limestone cliffs.  And I am always ready for an excuse to visit, so when Susan and Peter Close suggested that we come and see the wonderful murals that Simon Fletcher has painted for their new tasting room and barrel cellar, I accepted with alacrity. If you know about water colours, you will know that Simon has an international reputation.  I am not so well-informed.  For me he is a local friend whose work I enjoy enormously.   His use of colour is wonderful and his portrayal of la Clape in Susan and Peter’s cellar is breathtakingly evocative.  My photos really do not justice to his work; they may just convey a meagre impression and hopefully tempt you to go and see for yourself, as it covers all four walls of the new tasting room. 

And of course we could not visit without a tasting, so here is quick update. 

2012 Viognier – 10.00€
Light golden; rich peachy nose, and on the palate.  Good acidity and balancing texture.  No oak.  Some bâtonnage and élevage in vat.  And a couple of days later we enjoyed the 2010 Viognier, which had evolved beautifully with richer peachy fruit and more weight and body.

2011 Livia, Viognier, Pays d’Oc – 20€
Another interpretation of Viognier.  Quite golden.  Unobtrusive oak on the nose, but more on the palate, plus some peachy texture.  More body, with some nutty and even leesy notes.  Good weight.  Very intriguing with lots of nuances and a long finish.  This isn’t made every year; there was none in 2013.

2013 Grenache – 9.00€
Good colour. Ripe plummy fruit.  Soft and supple with cherry liqueur fruit and spice.  Lovely easy drinking.

2013 Marselan – 9.00€
I’ve remembered this in the past as being a bit of the jammy side, but this vintage is absolutely delicious.  Rounded ripe with sweet spice and ripe garrigues and a refreshing streak of tannin.  Good balance, and satisfying depth of flavour

2013 Syrah – 9.00€
Good young colour. Quite a firm nose, with some peppery fruit.  A firm streak of tannin, even a touch green, with an inharmonious edge.  Peter admitted that 2013 was a difficult harvest.  Sea mists came in for dour days at the end of September when they were hoping to harvest the Syrah, and consequently the grapes developed some rot. 

And now on to La Clape with:

2011 Garrigue – 10.00€
A blend of Syrah and Grenache./  Very perfumed nose, with black fruit and tapenade on the palate.   25% given an élevage in wood.  Spice and complexity and a touch of oak.

2011 Reserve – 14.00€
60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Carignan.  50% in barrels of three wines.  Good deep colour.  Ripe spicy fruit; black fruit and tapenade ,with a firm tannic steak.  Youthful and characterful.

2012 Premium  - 20€
Again 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Carignan, essentially a barrel selection from the Reserve.  About 200 barrels.   Quite firm and structured with more tannin and more oak.  Some sweet black fruit on the finish, but quite a youthful tannic  streak.  Needs time.

2011 Julius – 40€
90% Syrah with 10% Grenache.  This is their flagship wine, which is not made every year; there was none in 2012, and probably will be none in 2013.  So make the most of this 2011.  Deep colour.  Firm dense spice on the nose.  Quite solid oak. Rich tapenade with a tannic streak.  Youthful and sturdy with some leathery notes.  Needs time. It is significantly more expensive than their other wines, but Peter feels that it is essential to push the boundaries.  It is important for the image.    I’d like to try this again in about ten years’ time.



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