Domaine Ollier Taillefer - an update
I always enjoy tasting with Françoise; she always provides an enthusiastic welcome and I always learn something from her. And it was high time for an update on the latest wines. This is now a three-generation estate. Françoise’s father Alain, now 80, is still very much involved and her two nephews, Florent and Guilhem have now joined the family business. Florent has studied winemaking, and has been allowed to make his own wine and his brother is working on sales.
2022 rosé – 9.50€
A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault, and some young Mourvèdre vines, that is to say younger than 20 years old. Mourvèdre takes a bit of time to settle down. A little colour. Nicely rounded nose. Light and fresh with some body and nicely balanced weight. 2022 was a hot vintage, but they managed to retain the freshness. 13.5€
2022 Tournée Générale – 12.00€
2022 was Florent’s first vintage and this is his first solo wine. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache
Carignan and Syrah, with no added sulphur. The grapes are destemmed and they add cultured yeast. I did not know that you could buy organic yeast.
Deep colour. Lovely ripe nose, with fresh red fruit, cherries. A youthful streak of tannin. And a lovely freshness. Well done Florent! You’ve made a great start.
We talked about the age of their vines, an average of forty years, with about a third planted either by her father or her brother, Luc. They have Grenache and Syrah that are 50 years old and half a hectare of vines near their capitelle that are 100 years and more. And while most of their Carignan is anything between 60 and 100 years old, they also have younger 20-year-old Carignan vines.
2019 les Collines - 10.00€
One third each of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Lovely rounded fruit on the nose and palate. I always describe this wine as sunshine in a glass, and this was no exception. Nicely balanced, with well integrated tannins. Françoise called this la patte de la maison – which might translate as the footprint of the estate. She observed that they take care to pick at the right moment.
2019 La Grande Réserve – 14.00€
From the oldest vines 50 – 100 years old. Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and just a little Mourvèdre. Good depth of colour. Hints of the garrigues, the classic Mediterranean vegetation on the nose and one the palate, some black olives and tapenade. Firm fruit and balancing tannins on the palate. Some stony fruit with the spice of the garrigues. Good length and a fresh finish. Lots of nuances. A wine to savour
2017 La Grande Reserve – 15.00€
For comparison. Deep colour. More black olives and tapenade on the nose and palate. Rounded rip fruit and lovely concentration combined with elegant weight and a long finish. Difficult to say which I preferred. I liked them both in different ways.
2018 Castel Fossibus – 20€
A blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre and just a little, 5% Carignan. I know that adds up to 105%, but just take a percent or two off the Grenache and Syrah……And in 2022 they included 10% Carignan to add extra freshness. Aged in barrels, with 10% in new 225 litre barrels. They find the larger barrels too difficult to manoeuvre.
Deep colour. Good fruit with well integrated oak and a firm a finish. The tannins are quite obvious on the finish. I have always preferred the Grande Reserve and this time was no exception.
2018 was a year of mildew with spring rain, and not such a hot summer. They lost crop because of the mildew, but the wine also had concentration from the small crop. 2016, the next wine, in comparison, was sunnier, with a hot August, while 2018 was fresher and cooler.
2016 Castel Fossibus – 22€
A little colour development and a more evolved nose and palate. The nose is evolving very nicely, with some lightly oaky, cedary notes, while the palate is more youthful, structured with a firm tannic finish.
2017 Le Rêve de Noé – 30.50€
2017 was a cooler year and there was some rain during the harvest. However, everything ripened well, even if it was all made a bit complicated by the rain. They only make this wine when the Mourvèdre is good enough as it is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Mourvèdre. There wasn’t enough Mourvèdre in 2018 and 2019 is only just in bottle. The Mourvèdre is aged in new wood, and the Syrah in barrels of one fill. And the aim is a wine for long ageing. Françoise explained that they had considered an almost pure Mourvèdre, but a single varietal is not in their DNA. Faugères is about blends.
Medium colour. Oak on the nose but it is well integrated, after two years in vat as well as the year in barrel. Dark fruit on the palate with quite firm tannins, and a rich structured palate with good depth and length. Youthful, with lots of nuances and beginning to evolve nicely.
2021 Allegro – 14.00€
A blend of Roussanne and Vermentino, with 10% of Carignan Blanc. Françoise explained that they had grafted their first Vermentino some 30 years ago, on to Carignan Blanc. Her brother, Luc, had got some cuttings from M. Guy of Château Coujan in St Chinian, who was an inspirational wine grower in his time. I have never forgotten my first encounter with him back in 1987. Happily, as Françoise explained, they had also kept some Carignan Blanc, which they now realise works very well in the region and is enjoying something of a comebackl.
A little colour, with a rich herbal nose and on the palate nicely mouth filling with herbal notes and a fresh finish. Good length. One of my favourite white wines of Faugères.
And then we finished with a sniff of Fine de Faugères, distilled by the Atelier du Bouillon in the nearby village of Autignac. It had spent 12 years I barrel – a serious alternative to Cognac, and it was of course Fine de Faugères that gave the appellation its name.