A walk through the vineyards of Faugères
Summer arrived in the Languedoc with a vengeance last Sunday and we had opted for a walk through the vineyards of Faugères. This is the first time that Faugères has hosted a vineyard walk. It was a slightly different format from some of the ballades vigneronnes, in that we had a guide and most of the food was served at the end of the walk. We started out from the pretty little village of Roquessels, a small group, with our guide, Vincent Balança from Domaine du Météore. He had started working for the new owners of that Faugères estate last autumn; they are two English doctors who apparently have always wanted to make wine and own a vineyard. Vincent gave us a commentary on various flora, pointing out cistus of Montpellier, with its small white flowers. He talked about the distinctive schist of Faugères; schist that originates from clay is much softer and more friable than schist from sand. The track took us down a slope through garrigues and across a small river bed, past wild mint and then up into the vineyards, for our first tasting stop.
And appropriately the first wine was Domaine du Météore white, a blend of Roussanne, Vermentino and Viognier, with some nicely rounded herbal fruit, mouth-filling with a slightly bitter finish. Jean-Michel Mégé was pouring his pink Domaine de la Reynardière. It was quite deep pink, contrasting with the current fashion for very pale rosés, with some sturdy fruit and acidity and Monica Coulshaw was showing Domaine des Trinités 2015 les Mourels, with rounded spicy fruit and a youthful finish.
The track took us past old mazets, and then to the ruined chapel of St Etienne de Frontignan, and then on to a more substantial mazet, with a dovecote, where Claude Froidevaux enthused about the delights of repairing the dry stone walls, with which the region abounds. She is an expert, placing stones, with an innate instinct. It was absorbing to watch. At the next tasting étape Françoise Ollier of Domaine Ollier Taillefer was pouring her rosé, from Grenache and Cinsaut with delicate fruit and an elegant finish. Mme Bardi, the new owner of Domaine Jean-Michel Alquier - the name will change to Domaine Bardi d’Alquier - was offering his 2016 les Vignes du Puits, and explained that they will be working with Jean-Michel for the next couple of vintages. The wine was a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache, which some firm fruit. And Paul Gordon from Domaine de la Sarabande was there with his 2017 Misterioso, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Frédéric Almazor from Domaine les Serrals was pouring 2018 Sur le Zinc, a blend of Syrah and Carignan, with some peppery fruit; his vines are just across the valley.
By time we were running seriously late, but it really simply didn’t matter. The path took us through the vineyards, to the next tasting stop. The cooperative was there with their Cuvée Valentin Duc; apparently he was a famous tenor singer, who sang at the Béziers opera house and owned the Château de Laurens some time during the 19th century. The wine was a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Vermentino, with some dry fruit. The coop’s red offering was l’Ort d’Amorel, which means the garden of lovers, or le jardin des amants in Occitan. It was 70% Syrah with some Grenache and Carignan and had spent 12 months in an oak barrels. It was a bit too oaky for my taste buds; robust was another comment that I thought appropriate.
Domaine Près Lasses was offering 2018 Amour, from Cinsaut, Grenache and Syrah, with rounded ripe fruit on nose and palate, elegantly stony, with a silky finish. And Adèle Arnaud from Mas Lou was pouring their Angaco 2018, a blend of 60% Carignan, and 20% each of Grenache and Lledoner Pelut, with spicy fruit and silky tannins.
The track then took us to the ruined château of Roquessels, situated in a prime look out position above the village, where lunch was being served. However the swimming pool called and we opted to head home. However it was a fun morning; so I do hope they do it again next year.