Le Clos Rouge
Krystal Brot of Le Clos Rouge has a new cellar just outside St Jean de la Blaquière. Despite her name, with Austrian origins, she was born in the Languedoc, and considers herself French. And Le Clos Rouge describes the red ruffes soil that is the identity of St Jean. Krystal has 13 hectares, part in St Jean and part in the nearby village of Usclas du Bosc, at an altitude of 350 - 400 metres. The wines from the two villages are quite different and she keeps them separately. She works mainly with cements vats and has just eight barrels for her top red wines.
2012 Blaca, Pays de l’Hérault - 18.50€
A blend of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Vermentino. Picked together, when the Grenache is just ripe and the Vermentino very ripe. 30% of the blend is aged in demi-muids. Light colour. Nicely herbal nose. Fresh herbal notes on the palate, with good acidity and tension, and just a hint of oak The 2022 vintage will include some Carignan Blanc and Carignan Gris, which Krystal has grafted on to some Grenache. She had too much Grenache so 30 ares have been grafted for the white varieties. The blend will eventually become 30% each of Vermentino and Carignan with 40% Grenache.
2021 Piccolo. Pays de l’Hérault 12.50€
A pure Cinsault, for which the youngest vines are 70 years old, grown on ruffes up in the hills. Krystal described it as a un petit glouglou, which was very apt. Light red colour. Very perfumed nose, with a firmer palate and some spicy liquorice fruit. A fresh tannic steak. A nice bitterness on the finish. Ca pinotte un peu, tasting a bit like a Pinot Noir, observed Krystal. She also commented that Cinsault does not like schist. It produces smaller yields with concentration, whereas it does best on arid soil. 15 - 21 day maceration, followed by 9 months élevage in vat.
2021 Cocagne, Languedoc - 12.00€
A blend of all the ‘left overs’. In 2021 there was quite a lot of Syrah, so 60%, with Carignan and less Grenache. All eraflé with a ten day maceration. Krystal presses before the end of the fermentations which makes for less tannin. 9 months élevage in vat. Some spicy red fruit and liquorice. Quite juicy, with a dry finish and a little more tannin and weight than Piccolo.
2020 Alert Rouge, Terrasses du Larzac
This cuvee was created in 2015, a harvest affected by floods with an alert rouge, a red danger warning, and they picked in the mud. 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 20% Syrah. Grown on ruffes in poor soil. 18 months Elevage in vat. Ripe berry fruit. A touch of garrigues. Very rounded, very ripe and very fresh. Supple tannins, with some acidity. Good balance. 2020 was a good vintage, while the Grenache was frosted in 2021.
2019 Babel, Terrasses du Larzac - 18.50€
50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Cinsault Two and a half years élevage in demi-muids. Grown on schist, in Usclas-du-Bosc, so more austere. Notes of tobacco, tapenade and black olives. More weight. rounded, more solid and structured, A wintery wine. 2019 was quite a complicated vintage, with a coup de sirocco bringing heat and wind for two or three days. And there was no rain for six weeks.
2018 Maros, Terrasses du Larzac - 34€
50% Grenache, 20% Carignan and Syrah, 10% Cinsault, blended in January and then into demi-muids. 2020 and 2021 are currently in the barrel cellar. Well integrated oak on the nose. Ripe fruit. Quite smokey The Syrah and Carignan are grown in the lieu-dit of Maros, while Cinsaut and Grenache, are her oldest and highest vines, a small plot of just 30 ares at 450 metres. Maros is on gravel, rather than ruffes. Nice wight and balanced, although a big mouthful. Structured. Youthful. Lots of nuances. a firm finish. Three estates have vineyards close to the Maros river. Is this the making a petit climat, as in Burgundy?
And looking to the future, Krystal said her grand project is Carignan Blanc. She loves the tension in Carignan and we enthused about Chablis. Carignan is our identity, she said. She has grafted some vines, so watch this space!