Rising Languedoc stars in 2016
I always enjoy the annual rising stars tasting at what is now called the Maison de la Région Occitanie / Pyrenées – Mediterranée in Cavendish Square. There are usually new discoveries to made, or in some instances I have already discovered them, or indeed they are stars that have already risen.
Domaine de l'Aster in the village of Péret produced its first wine in 2014 from seven hectares. There were four wines to taste, a couple of AC red and white Languedoc and then a couple of Pézenas; one unoaked, with some ripe fleshy fruit and a warm finish, and the other oaked with some dry spice.
Domaine des Capriers is in the village of Puissalicon and produces a range of Côtes de Thongue. First came an unusual blend of Sauvignon and Muscat, Rêve de Louis, for easy drinking. Larmes d'Ema, a blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon had some understated peachy fruit. There was a light Chardonnay, a rosé from Grenache Noir and four different reds, of which I liked Larmes d'Ema, which was predominantly Syrah with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.
Next came a completely new Limoux estate, La Coume-Lumet, dating from 2013. For Luc Abadie, it represents a complete change of career; he looked for vineyards between Collioure and Pézenas and liked the cooler climatic conditions of Limoux. He makes two still red and two still white, a Limoux and an IGP Haute Vallée de l'Aude. Both whites are based on Chardonnay and Chenin blanc; the appellation red is a blend of Merlot, Grenache noir and Syrah, and the IGP Cot (or Malbec) and Syrah. All four illustrated the characteristic freshness of Limoux and there were also two vintages of Crémant de Limoux to try, with 60% Chardonnay, 30% Chenin and 10% Mauzac. The difference between the two was eighteen months on the lees, for 2014, as opposed to twelve months for 2013, which Luc considered to be an improvement. I agreed with him and have made a note to visit.
In my mind Pascal Dallier of Domaine du Joncas in Montpeyroux has already risen, but he is looking for a UK importer and that was his main reason to be at the tasting. From 9.5 hectares he produces a varied range of wines. I began with the two whites, Canta, IGP Mont Baudile, a pure Riesling and not what you would normally associate with the Languedoc or indeed with Riesling; cooked pineapple came to mind, and some very firm acidity and a hint of honey. Alba, also IGT Mont Baudile, is a pure Grenache Gris, with some stony fruit on nose and palate. Nebla rosé is AC Languedoc, a blend of Syrah, and Grenache Noir, while Nebla rouge Terrasses du Larzac includes Mourvèdre and Cinsaut as well as Syrah and Grenache Noir. The rosé is quite rich and vinous and the red is structured with some spice. Another Terrasses du Larzac Obra has been fermented and aged in concrete eggs - Pascal now has six eggs. It has elegant fruit with some structure, which is Pascal’s objective with his wine-making. And the final wine, Joia, a Montpeyroux, and predominantly Grenache Noir, with some Syrah and a drop of Cinsaut has the ripe cherry fruit of the Grenache on the palate, tempered with an elegant streak of tannin.
Domaine Mandourelle in the Corbières in the village of Villeseque-des-Corbières has recently changed hands. I tasted a rosé from Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre which was fresh with some crisp acidity, and then compared the 2014 and 2015 vintages of Corbières. Both had the rugged tannins of good Corbières, with the 2014 inevitably a bit more supple on the finish.
There was a second Corbières estate, Château Maylandie. Delphine Maymil took over her grandfather's vineyards in 2007 and now makes quite an extensive range of wines from 27 hectares. Exquises Esquisses blanc is a pure Grenache blanc, with some ageing in oak; it is quite rounded and textured. Next came Le Cabanon in three colours; the white a delicate herbal blend of Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc, Vermentino, Roussanne and Marsanne, while the rosé from Grenache Noir, Syrah and Cinsaut, was fresh and rounded, and the red, a blend of Carignan and Cinsaut was fresh and peppery, and designed for easy early drinking. Corbières Les Ferrals, 70% Grenache with 30% Syrah, was quite firm and sturdy with some good fruit, and Villa Ferrae Corbières Boutenac, from Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, was even sturdier and more structured with good depth.
Julie Viudes from Domaine de la Rencontre was showing her range of IGP Hérault Muscats, as well as the sparkling Esprits Libres, a cheerful grapey wine with a fresh finish. Based as she and Pierre are, in Mireval, their appellation wines are fortified Muscats but they have diversified to make various unfortified Muscats, namely Rencontre, a rich grapey wine with good acidity; Poète is fresh and perfumed with some sweetness and Philosophe is rounded and ripe, the result of some late harvested grapes and a touch of oak.
Domaine Rouanet Montcélèbre is an estate in the Minervois village of Cesseras. Audrey Rouanet took over from her father who had been content to sell his wine en vrac. She now makes a pair of Minervois; Montcélèbre white comes from Grenache blanc, Rolle or Vermentino and Roussanne, with some fresh white blossom on both nose and palate, while the red comes from Syrah with some Grenache noir, with some peppery fruit. RM Pays d'Oc is made in three colours; the white from Chardonnay with some Grenache and Colombard, makes for easy drinking; the pink is pure Cinsaut and fresh and delicate and the red, from Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre was fruity, but a tad stalky on the finish.
In my book Manu Pageot from Domaine Turner Pageot is already an established star; he just needs to find a UK importer. And it had been a while since I had tasted his wines, so this was a good opportunity for a catch up. Le Blanc is a blend of Roussanne and Marsanne with some fresh stony fruit and some saline notes. Les Choix is pure Marsanne and possibly Manu's most original wine. It is an orange wine, fermented on the skins with some tannic notes and firm concentrated fruit.
Le Rouge is 80 % Grenache with 20% Syrah, with some rounded fresh cherry fruit and a streak of tannin. Carmina Major is half Syrah, half Mourvèdre with some rounded, sturdy rich tannic fruit, providing quite a contrast with le Rouge and R815 is also predominantly Grenache with some Mourvèdre, with some ripe spicy fruit and a steak of supple tannin.
Domaine de la Garance was showing a couple of wines, but Pierre Quinonero was nowhere to be seen. Les Claviers blanc, a blend of Grenache Gris and Ugni Blanc with some oak ageing, could be described as restrained natural, with some sturdy fruit, while les Armières was a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, with some solid rounded fruit and sturdy tannins and some alcohol on the finish.
There were three other estates about whom I have blogged about recently, namely Domaine de la Cendrillon in the Corbières, Domaine La Font des Ormes outside Pézenas and Château St. Martin de la Garrigue with Picpoul de Pinet and Grès de Montpellier, which vaut la visite to taste their wines.