A trio of Corbières from Famille Fabre
The Fabre family are large producers, with several estates, based above all in the Corbières. Clémence Fabre offered me some samples recently – this took perseverance. The first parcel was rejected by Chronopost as merchandise interdit en GB!! The consequences of Covid. Fortunately she persevered and DHL came up trumps and the trio of Corbières was well worth the effort.
This is what I wrote about them in Wines of the Languedoc:
Louis Fabre, of Château de Luc in the eponymous village, was one of the pioneers of organic viticulture in the region 20 years ago. These days 30 per cent of the Corbières vineyards are farmed organically. Château de Luc has a long history, dating back to the 4thcentury, with a Visigoth sarcophagus with a vine leaf. Louis XIII destroyed the château and it was rebuilt. Altogether the Fabre family have five properties, with 350 hectares, including Château Fabre-Gasparets, la Courtade near Béziers and a Minervois estate, la Bergerie de Rieux. Louis took me to a viewpoint, le roche troué, with sweeping views over La Clape, Fitou and the Corbières. You could see the Caroux and the Pic de Vissou, the Canigou and the emblematic Corbières hills of Alaric and Mont Tauch. ‘All our wines are marked by wind’, enthused Louis. It was a windy evening. We get the Cers and the Marin; the wind carries smells which are fixed in the taste of the wines. Rosé accounts for 25% of Louis’s production and he makes a variety of wines, IGP, Corbières, and Boutenac. Louis began bottling his wine in the early 1980s, to which his grandfather’s response was : why do you want to become a grocer?! How things have changed! And the next generation is beginning to take over.
2018 Château de Luc, Corbières, les Jumelles – 9.60€
A blend of 30% Carignan, 34% Mourvèdre, 16% Syrah and 20% Grenache. The Carignan and Grenache were not destemmed, while the Syrah and Mourvèdre were. Fermented in vat - no oak. ‘Just spices and terroir’, as Clémence put it. Quite a deep young colour. Quite firm peppery fruit. Nice juicy red fruit and brambly flavours on the palate, with a tannic streak. A nice rounded finish. A lovely glass of Corbières without any frills.
The next two wines, from the cru of Boutenac were much more serious. Boutenac covers a small part of the vineyards of Corbières, namely the area on either side of the Massif de la Pinède, about fifteen kilometres square, including tencommunesfrom St Laurent to Boutenac, with Lézignan, Luc, Ornaisons, St. André, Montséret, Ferrals, Fabrezan and Thézan. You can take a dirt track past Fontsainte and chapel of St. Siméon, to a viewpoint at 350 metres and look down on a patchwork of vineyards, with the Montagne d’Alaric in the middle distance. Essentially the soil is clay and limestone, calcaire aggloméré, poor friable rock which they call pouding. Very much less Boutenac is actually declared than the area officially recognised. For most producers, it is their top cuvée, the icing on the cake of Corbières. The first vintage of Boutenac was 2005.
2017 Château Fabre Gasparets, Sélection du cru Boutenac – 16.20€
56% Carignan, 24% Mourvèdre and 20% Syrah. Aged one third in new one, one third in one year and one third in second year wood, but with 10 % in cement eggs.
Medium colour. Quite fresh black fruit on the nose and palate. Less obvious oak than the single vineyard, La Serre. Ripe spicy fruit and an appealing lift on the finish.
2017 Château Fabre- Gasparets, Corbières Boutenac, la Serre – 26.50€
45% Syrah and 40% Mourvèdre, given a 25-day maceration, and aged for 12 months in French oak, 300 litre barrels, with 15% Carignan in 160 litre amphorae.
Deep young colour. Dense ripe fruit, with well integrated oak. Ripe rich fruit with a firm steak of tannin. Ripe and mouth filling, with some lovely spicy fruit. Elegant finish. Drinking well with youthful fruit.