Vins & Vinos - A wine tasting in Carcassonne at 38 rue Barbès

I first met Alex Francis in Chablis rather more years ago than either of us care to remember.  He had just completed a wine-making stage chez Long Depaquit and since then he has had a varied wine trade career and is now based in Carcassonne, running a successful export business, dealing in Spanish wine as well as the wines of the Languedoc.  The shop front of his business is a welcoming wine shop, Vins et Vinos, right in the centre of Carcassonne.   I was in the vicinity the other day, so Alex suggested popping in for a tasting of some of his new discoveries and current enthusiasms, an invitation that I was particularly happy to accept.  In the Languedoc Alex concentrates particularly on the Minervois and is also exploring further afield. 

What follows is what I particularly enjoyed:  

Clos de Vènes, 2016 Vin de France - 25€
From an estate in at St Couat d'Aude.   Made from 70 year old Carignan
Deep colour; quite a solid ripe nose, with a dose of new oak.  Rich spicy fruit, with a firm steak of tannin. Quite a dry finish. An interesting interpretation of Carignan.  And on consideration, l preferred the Grenache from the same estate. 20€
Quite a deep colour, with a perfumed nose. Nicely silky palate, with juicy sweet berry fruit.   Quite ripe and rounded with an elegant finch.  

Next came a couple of wines from Domaine le Sieston in Laure-Minervois.
La vie est une fête. - a rosé from, unusually, Pinot Noir. 7.90€
Light pink with a very fresh nose.  Rounded palate with a fresh crisp finish.  Quite an unusual rosé for the Languedoc. 2018 was Alexis Brunel's first vintage, when he took the family vines out of the village coop.

His second wine, Aujols, meaning aieux in Occitan, or ancestors, is a pure Syrah. Good colour.  Quite rounded, rich and spicy, with a touch of tapenade and some firm tannins. Quite fleshy black fruit on the finish.

Then Alex opened Péchaligous, the wine made by Thierry Rodriguez from the vineyard of gris varieties that he has planted outside his cellar at Domaine Gabinèle in Laurens, which is part of the Faugères appellation.  There are twelve different gris varieties, all with pink skins when they are ripe, so with apologies for the list, but it does make interesting reading - Pinot, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon, Muscat à petits grains rose, Piquepoul, Savagnin Clairette, Trousseau, Grolleau, Mauzac, Riveyrenc and Grenache.  They are co-fermented.  It is a white wine with some depth of colour.  Firm mineral fruit on the nose, and on the palate, good acidity with firm fruit and well integrated oak.  A quarter of the wine is fermented in new oak.  A lovely original and very intriguing glass of wine.  Production is tiny and so the wine is inevitably expensive - 33€

I have always had slightly mixed feelings about Château d'Agel, often finding their wines too heavy and oaky, but apparently they have a new winemaker since my last visit.  2017 was his first vintage and the wines are noticeably more elegant.   There was les Bonnes, red, white and pink, all nicely unoaked.  10€.  The red, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and a little Carignan, is rounded and spicy with a tannic streak.  Caudios is a lightly oaked old vines Macabeo 16€.

Bruno Ohlzon is a Swede who has created a wine club of a large group of Swedish investors, about 1000 of them, at Domaine d'Escapat in the Minervois. Prestige le Capitaine Blanc is an intriguing blend of Muscat, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, with some pithy fruit @ 7.90€.   And Mes Amis Rosé is a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, with some well-integrated oak and quite a dry but viscous palate @12.00€

Numéro 6, Minervois, @ 9.95€, is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with good fruit, a nicely rounded palate and a hint of oak.  Medium weight with a steak of tannin.  The estate is close to Cabardès so in the cooler part of the Minervois.   

Prestige le Capitaine Rouge, a Pays d'Oc and blend of Cabernet and Merlot had ripe, rounded cassis fruit and a streak of tannin and a little oak, with a fresh finish.   

And then we moved onto Roussillon, with wines from Domaine Modat, an estate that I have not visited for a while. Philippe Modat's son, Quentin, is now making the wine.   De-ci et 
De-la was fresh and mineral with firm acidity and an elegant finish.  Les Luccioles, with some Viognier as well as Roussanne, Grenache Gris and Carignan Blanc, was richer and more textured.   And we finished with 2015 Comme Avant,  Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Caramany, with Carignan, Syrah and Grenache, and some oak, made by Philippe, was quite rich, structured and oaky.    18.00€.

So do go and check out Alex’s selection if you have a spare moment while you are in Carcassonne.  And thank you Alex for some new introductions, adding to my never-ending wish list of wine estates to visit.    


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