Domaine Hautes Terres
From Domaine Mouscaillo, we wandered up through the village to the top of the hill to Domaine Terres-Hautes, with its cellars just by the château. Gilles and his compagne, Geneviève, gave us a friendly welcome and tasting.
Gilles now has 13 hectares of vines in ten small plots. He bought a plot of Mauzac a couple of years ago and so that he has 4 hectares of 47 year old vines. There are three levels to his range. Les Autres Terres, both red and white, includes young vines and pressed juice, with an emphasis on fruit, and wines with less acidity. Then there are the appellations wines, Chardonnay and Chenin, aged in foudres, barriques and demi-muids, and then there are some special cuvées. Gilles is a creative winemaker.
A Pét Nat, a pure Mauzac, bottled at the harvest with 25 gms/l, so a méthode ancestrale, is in the pipeline. It was still sur lattes and will be disgorged at the end of April.
2017 Cuvée Céleste - 26€- is a pure Chenin Blanc, fermented and elevé in foudres, for ten months, followed by ten months in bottle. It had firm dry honey on the nose, with some lovely fruit on the palate, balanced by good acidity. Gilles used indigenous yeast, and does not add anything, only sulphur, if absolutely necessary.
2017 Cuvée Louis, a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Chenin Blanc is aged in demi-muids and barrel, and blended together a month before bottling It was quite firm, with stony fruit, more Chardonnay than Chenin, but an intriguing balance.
NV Cuvée Josephine - 16.00€ - is his Crémant, a blend of 60% chardonnay, 30% Chenin Blanc and 10% Mauzac, depending on the vintage, a Brut Nature with no added dosage, and disgorged in March 2019. Gilles observed the it is important to know when the wine is disgorged. The base wine, from the 2016 vintage, spent eighteen months in barrel and was ripe and honeyed, with some oak influence, with character and depth. It was rich and characterful.
L’Ancestrale a pure Mauzac was quite rounded, with leafy herbal notes and dry honey on the palate.
The red Cuvée Louis is a blend of Malbec, aged in vat, and Merlot and Cabernet Franc, in barrel. The vines are 10 - 15 years old, planted on argilo-calcaire, and éboulis calcaires. Gilles observed that he plants each variety on the best terroir for it - Chardonnay is best on a north facing slope; Mauzac likes poor soil, limestone, and does well in drought. The wine was a deep young colour, with a rich ripe nose, with rich concentrated fruit and some underlying oak.
Gilles is also making a pure Mauzac, and commented that other more traditional varieties, such as Terret, Clairette and Macabeo were once grown in Limoux, but disappeared when the region began to concentrate on sparkling wine at the expense of still wine.