Domaine de la Senche

Domaine de la Senche was the very first Minervois estate I ever visited, back in1983, when it was the property of the Foncompret  family.  Since then the vineyards have been sold to Domaine Maris and the Château de Gourgazaud, and then in 2008 Guy and Liz bought the run down house and a defunct cellar, with old magnificent foudres and a tiny plot of vines at the back of the house.   It is in the village of La Livinière, on the edge of the circulade.

Guy has always wanted to be a wine grower,  but first he worked in the hotel industry, in Dubai.  When he retired, they spent five years looking for vineyards and a wine estate.  They wanted something that was rundown, so that they could create a new reputation, and in an area with potential for a cru.  They also wanted shops nearby and an international airport, and looked from Tavel to northern Spain and after five year, found Domaine de la Senche., buying it in 2008.  They came to live here in 2012, buying vineyards and initially sent their grapes to the coop, and then made their first wine in 2014, from just under 4 hectares of vines, in 12 different plots.   They also have 350 olive trees.  

They have Grenache and Syrah, Carignan and some Cinsaut, but no Mourvèdre, and for white wine Vermentino and Muscat.   Guy went Plumpton to learn, as he put it, how to drive a tractor and they also studied at the university of Suze-la-Rousse.  And they have not looked back.  'It is the best decision I ever made', enthused Guy, and Liz agreed. They do as much as possible by hand.  Their La Livinière is fermented in barrel; you have to remove the grape skins by hand - they don’t take off the top of the barrel, as some people to do.  And they have kept the old foudres; they are part of the Languedoc’s history.  They have a tiny pneumatic press, and Guy said, 'we just keep tasting the juice, and stop when we don’t like the taste'.  He has learnt a lot from Maurice Puccini, a winegrower in the village who was one of the founders of La Livinière.  He taught Guy how to prune, and kept telling him to taste, rather than to read analyses.

Our tasting started with 2018 Cuvée Wyn, Minervois Blanc - 7.50€
Named after an old friend.  A blend of Vermentino, Muscat and Grenache Blanc.  A little lees contact.  Light delicate nose;  fresh and fragrant and lightly herbal.  

2018 Rosé, Minervois  LOTI, for Liz, Lady of the Isles, who was born on the Scottish island of Burra, 7,50€
40% Cinsaut to 60% Syrah.  Direct pressing. Delicate light pink colour. Delicate fresh dry raspberry.  Fresh acidity balancing fresh fruit.  Refreshing.  
2017 Hibou, Coteaux de Peyriac - 7.50€
A pure Syrah and an entry level red, fermented in vat and bottled in the spring.  Ripe spice, cassis and pepper.  Red fruit and supple tannins.  Easy drinking

2016 Papeta, Minervois  - 11.00€  
The occitan for grandfather and a tribute to Guy’s father.  60% Syrah, 35% Carignan and about  5% Grenache Noir.  The Grenache links the two varieties and takes away any edges.  Fermented and aged in vat and bottled in April and then given some bottle age before sale.  Good colour.  Rounded nose with dry spice.  A supple palate with a streak of tannin.  Youthful freshness and fruit. Medium weight.

2017 Cuvée Sòmi, La Livinière - 21€
Somi is a dream in Occitan; their dream to make a cru. Eighteen months in vat and barrel and just bottled when I tasted it.   Deep colour.  Chocolatey oak nose, with some firm youthful tannins.  Youthful spice and fruit and rounded, mouth filling and long.   Oak still quite present so need time.

A friendly visit.   I enjoyed Guy and Liz’s enthusiasm and wish them une très bonne continuation.  


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