Domaine St Sylvestre with Savage Selection
Fellow MW, Mark Savage runs a small import business called Savage Selection. Somehow the name suits the range. I always know, when a producer tells me that that Mark is his importer, that the wines will be interesting in the very best sense of the word. I might not like the wines, but they will characterful, with plenty to say in the glass. So I was delighted to receive an invitation to taste a selection from Marks’s current portfolio, described as Great Wines from Small Growers. There were wines from Greece, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain and Italy, and the Languedoc, with Domaine St Sylvestre.
I am guilty of never having actually visited this estate, although it has been on my radar for quite a while. And tasting their wines at Mark’s tasting really encourages me to repair that omission. Vincent Guizard worked with Olivier Julien and at Domaine Montcalmès and then set up his own domaine, with his wife, Sylvie, with a first vintage in 2011. They now have eight hectares in three plots in the Terrasses du Larzac and are based in the village of Puéchabon.
And this is what I tasted:
A blend of equal parts of Roussanne and Marsanne, with 10% Viognier. Fermented in barrel and then aged in barrels of one fill for 12 months. Light colour. Lightly herbal, fragrant nose. And on the palate nicely balanced, fresh and fragrant, with good acidity, and a satisfying mouthfeel. Nicely textured. The oak is very well integrated.
2021 Le Coup de Calcaire
The soil is limestone, hence the name. A low yield of 25 hl/ha. And the blend is 90% Chardonnay, with 5% each of Marsanne and Roussanne. Fermented in new Burgundian barrels, with natural yeast and kept in barrels of one fill for 12 months. This had more more concentration, weight and depth. It did not immediately say Chardonnay to me. An intriguing contrast and an altogether more serious proposition.
A blend of 70% Syrah, with 20% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre, grown mainly on galets roulés and some limestone. Fermented in small batches by grape variety and plot, with a long maceration of 35 days and then aged in barrel for two years. With ripe fruit on the nose, and hints of liqueur cherries. A medium weight palate, with ripe fruit and silky tannins and a fresh finish, typical of the Terrasses du Larzac.
2020 Le Sang du Papète
A pure Carignan from vines that were planted more than 75 years ago by Sophie’s grandfather in the village of Lespignan, which is much closer to the coast, not far from La Clape. Fermented in stainless steel vats, with a long maceration of 35 days. And then aged in older Burgundian barrels for two years. They are giving Carignan the full works and it shows in the glass, a serious Carignan, with some stature. Medium colour. Quite a firm nose, and firm, structured fruit on the palate, balanced with some appealing freshness. Youthful with potential. Intriguing. And I am guessing that the name is an affectionate term for grandpa.