Domaine d'Aupilhac - an update
I always enjoying seeing Sylvain Fadat. And this visit dates back to the early autumn of 2022. Sylvain was very pleased with the 2022 harvest. All had gone well. There was an early budbreak, and none of the frost of 2021. 100mm of rain in June was beneficial, helping the vines through a dry summer, which made for one of the smallest crops of the last ten years. However, analytically the wines do not have the profile of a hot year; on the contrary, the pH is low and the acidities are good. The vines didn’t suffer from lack of water. Is this the biodynamic effect on the vines, a method that he has practiced since 2014? He did more dynamisation during the summer in 2022. And he thinks that the plants are stronger and have more energy. He had given them seven tons per hectare of sheep and cow manure, and if you dynamise the manure, it is absorbed more easily into the soil.
Then we talked about the creation of the Terrasses du Larzac. He was one of the pioneers, along with Olivier Jullien. Initially the area was Coteaux du Languedoc, and then it became part of a larger area, Languedoc. But they did not want to abandon Coteaux du Languedoc, but realised that the image of Coteaux du Languedoc implied a larger area than it actually was. The result was Terrasses du Larzac, as a second layer of appellation above Languedoc. And next they would like greater recognition of Montpeyroux, where Domaine d'aupilhac is, as a cru of the Terrasses du Larzac. The initial steps were taken in 1990, but it all takes time. Montpeyroux was one of the first VDQS of the Languedoc in 1956 and then became one of the terroirs of the Coteaux du Languedoc. Sylvain firmly believes in Montpeyroux and he firmly believes in Carignan and would not pull it up. For him the Terrasses du Larzac acts an intermediary appellation, between Languedoc and Montpeyroux.
The soil is very mixed, with two different climates in the Terrasses du Larzac. There is a world of difference between say, Pas de l’Escalette and Cocalières above Montpeyroux. Montpeyroux is a great terroir. It does not suffer from drought. 'My wine is good because the terroir is so good' Sylvain was one of the first independent wine growers in Montpeyroux, with a first vintage in 1989. There are now 30 independent cellars in the village, but not everyone makes Montpeyroux, just 25 and the cooperative. There is a link between the old wine growers and the cooperative and the new arrivals.
And then Sylvain opened a bottle, 2021 Aupilhac Blanc. A blend of 40% each of Carignan Blanc and Clairette with a little Ugni Blanc and Grenache Blanc. with elegant stony fruit, freshness and energy, with very good acidity. Ugni Blanc gives acidity. Clairette has less acidity, and more weight with a little bitterness. The soil is marnes blancs with oyster fossils. 15€
Sylvain has given up making rosé: instead he is making vin gris. Montpeyroux had a tradition for vin gris, and the cooperative does a gris de gris, le Cayradel. Sylvain is grafting Carignan. first planting the rootstocks. It resists drought. And he also uses Grenache Gris, Carignan Gris and Clairette Rose. The alcoholic and malo lactic fermentation are in foudres, 40 and 20 hls, with a 9 months élevage. 2021 was the first vintage of le Gris. It was the colour of old gold after a direct pressing, after a few hours in the press. It was rounded and textured with an almost sweet raspberry fruit, and very ripe. 17€
2021 Cocalières Blanc
A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Banc and Rolle, kept in 40 hls foudres. More rounded, more weight and body, with a long finish. Quite different from Aupilhac Blanc. Initially Aupilhac Blanc had more Grenache, and hardly any Carignan or Clairette. It is a very good terroir for white wines, very chalky with old seas shells. In contrast, Cocalières is more stony, with less active limestone, on the site of an old lake that was formed after a volcanic eruption.
2020 Cocalières rouge - 20.80€
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre. Good colour, Fragrant garrigues fruit on nose and palate. Very supple, subtle tannins with lovely fruit. Medium weight.
2020 Le Carignan - 20.10€
Quite deep colour. Quite firm red fruit on both nose and palate, with a fresh finish. Nicely ripe and mouth filling, but always with freshness, the benchmark of Carignan.