An update at Chateau St Martin de la Garrigue
I had not visited this estate since i was researching my Languedoc book about three years ago, so I was surprised to learn that it is no longer owned by Russians, but now by a Norwegian who has ambitious plans for a restaurant and a hotel. And coincidentally we were visiting with Norwegian friends. According to Jean-Luc Parret who runs the estate, Mr. Petersen is much more interested in the potential business as a hotel than in the wine, so that Jean-Luc is happily left to his own devices for wine-making. And the Russians had to sell as there were economic sanctions which made it impossible for them to run a business in France, and indeed maintain a bank account.
We tasted the complete range
2019 Tradition, Languedoc Blanc AOP - 7.80€
A blend of Piquepoul and Terret, picked early, with a classic white wine vinification. Quite a firm salty nose, with crisp fruit and a fresh juicy finish.
Jean-Luc as not very happy about the 2021 vintage; the grapes, especially the Piquepoul, were slow to ripen. And in any case he had lost the crop of a third of 55 hectare estate to frost in the spring.
2019 Picpoul de PInet - 9.90€
At St Martin de la Garrigue they tend to pick their Piquepoul later than average, usually in early to mid-October, making them one of the last to pick, alongside the late ripening Mourvèdre. The four coops which account for 85% of the appellation usually pick quite early, and there are about 40 independent wine growers.
The wine is quite ripe and rounded, the result of three months lees contact with some bâtonnage which makes for some satisfying weight. One of my favourite Picpoul de Pinet
2019 Bronzinelle Blanc, AOP Languedoc - 10.90€
A blend of 70% Roussanne with some 40 year old Grenache Blanc vines and a little Viognier and Piquepoul - NB that is how the grape is spelt, but the wine is always Picpoul. Just to confuse us. They no longer use oak for this wine, and no bâtonnage, and blend in January to bottle in February. Lots of nuances from the blend of grapes. A little peachy note on the nose from the Viognier. Quite rounded and nuanced with balancing acidity.
2020 Bronzinelle Rosé, AOP Languedoc. - 7.80€
A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cinsault. Pressed. The style has changed slightly and become drier and less vinous. Very pale colour. Closed nose. Quite firm fresh fruit, with good acidity and a dry finish.
2019 Tradition Rouge, AOP Languedoc - 7.80€
A blend fo 60% Syrah, and 20% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre. Elevage in vat. Languedoc sunshine in a glass. Vin des copains. Easy drinking, with you friends. Good colour. Ripe fruit and peppery. Fresh, ripe and rounded. The Syrah is fermented by carbonic maceration, taking about two weeks and then blended with the Grenache and Mourvèdre.
2018 Bronzinelle - 10.90€
50% Syrah, again with carbonic maceration and 25% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre, with a classic fermentation. Occasionally there might be a a little Carignan in the blend. 40 year old vines. And the élevage is now with interstaves rather than barrels, for reasons of economy. For a tempting export price, you cannot afford élevage in barrel and the staves are neutral in flavour. The wine was nicely rounded and mouth-filling, with ripe fruit and spice. Easy drinking, like the Tradition Rouge, but with more depth.
2017 Grès de Montpellier - 17€
70% Grenache from 60 year old vines, plus 20% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre. 12 months in 500 litre demi-muids. Blended before the élevage, with a selection of their best wines for this cuvée. Medium colour. Some firm structured fruit on both nose and palate and a ripe finish. Still very youthful with ageing potential.
And then Jean-Luc’s wife, Katia, showed us round the elegant gardens, with a statue of a red horse, stylish fountains and neatly trimmed box hedges. The château has some dramatic Russian paintings and there is a tiny chapel, dedicated to St Martin, adjacent to the château.