Domaine du Météore,
This leading Faugères estate changed hands in 2017 when it was sold to two London doctors, Paul Jenkins and Paul Jarman, who have long had a dream to own a wine estate. And they have employed Vincent Balansa as their winemaker. His previous career includes time at Clos Marie in Pic St Loup, where Christophe Peyruis gave him inspiration for white wine, as well as at Domaine Gauby, Clos des Fées and Le Soula in Roussillon, after studies in Montpellier. And there really is a meteor crater on the estate in the pretty Faugères village of Cabrerolles with a 70 ares vineyard in the bottom. Another unusual aspect of Domaine de Météore is that it is one of only two wine estates to have vineyards in the adjoining appellations of Faugères and St. Chinian. The other is Moulin de Ciffre, where the vineyards are side by side, and you can see the actual fault line that represents the boundary between the two appellations.
A recent tasting in London showed the new wines. Vincent’s first complete vintage was only last year, but he was there in time to blend earlier vintages, making subtle changes in the style.
2018 Léonides Blanc, Faugères Blanc – sold out!
Ablend of Roussanne, Vermentino and Viognier, with some nicely rounded herbal fruit, mouth-filling with a slightly bitter finish.
2018 Lyrides Blanc, Faugères Blanc - £28.50
A barrel sample. A demi-muid of Vermentino blended with a demi-muid of Roussanne, given 12 months in barrel, with very little bâtonnage. The wine will be bottled very shortly. The oak is still very present on the nose, but the palate has some rich fruit and good balancing acidity. There is some satisfying texture and mouthfeel with a long finish. It promises well, and in 2019, the blend will include some Clairette.
2016 Léonides Rouge, Faugères Rouge - £13.30
Blended rather than vinified by Vincent. Aged in vat rather than barrel. A blend of Syrah Grenache Noir and Cinsault. The Cinsault makes for a more elegant palate, changing the original blend slightly. Deep young colour. Quite a firm nose with a rich leathery note. And on the palate ripe and rounded with spicy fruit. Nicely balanced.
2017 Carignides, Vin de France - £17.50
No prizes for guessing that this is a pure Carignan, and a very elegant example of that sometimes rather rustic grape variety. The grapes come from both St. Chinian and Faugères, from 55-year-old vines, so Vin de France is the simplest category for a blend of appellations. Deep young colour. Quite a firm nose, with some red fruit. And on the palate nicely balanced fruit and silky tannins. It is a classic vinification, with no carbonic maceration, with some ageing in vat. Drinking beautifully.
2016 Perséides, Faugères Rouge - £15.50
There is a high percentage of Grenache Noir, with some Syrah, in this wine, which has two and a half years in demi-muids. At the moment, the oak is quite obvious on the palate, and there is also a firm oaky streak on the palate, but with plenty of fruit underneath, which will develop in bottle as the oak fades. Good potential. Definitely a wine to age.
2016 Lyrides Faugères Rouge - £28.50
A sélection parcellaire, of 80% Syrah with some Mourvèdre, and also aged in demi-muids for two and a half years. A long maceration of seven to eight weeks. The nose is quite firm and solid, and on the palate, there is a certain spiciness and a firm structure. There is concentrated elegance, and indeed I found it more elegant than Perséides.
2015 Parangon St Chinian Roquebrun - £25.50
This is essentially the same blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre, but with a drop of Grenache Noir and the same long maceration and ageing. The vineyards are eight kilometres apart, and although the method is the same, the taste is different, as although the soil of Roquebrun, like Faugères, is based on schist, the schist is different, with more clay. There were firm tannins, with some peppery fruit, and the wine seemed to have more body and weight. The Faugères was more elegant, while the St Chinian was denser, making a fascinating comparison. And of course, with the year’s difference in vintage, it is not an exact comparison.