Occitanie in 2023


The annual Occitanie, Sud de France tasting always yields some interesting discoveries and there were several estates, that were either new to me, or that I had not visited for a while, and well worth an update and even another visit.   I wrote about a couple of new discoveries in my two previous posts and now I would just like to highlight some other favourites wines.   Plans to spend much time in the Languedoc last year were scuppered for various reasons, but this year I intend to be there more often.  


Château Coupe-Roses is an estate in the Minervois in the village of la Caunette, which was established in 1987.  And it was an estate that I visited in 1997 for The Wines of the South of France.  There was an extraordinary variety of different Minervois, with variations of blends – three white, and six reds, with from 45 hectares of vines, with four white varieties and also four red, the classics of the Languedoc, but no Mourvèdre.   I must admit I found all the subtle nuances quite confusing.  And no one wine stood out.   Perhaps most typical was 2021 les Plots, a blend of Syrah and 30% Grenache Noir, made in stainless steel vats.  It was quite firm and peppery on the palate, with some sturdy fruit.



The Cave de Saint-Chinian produces an acceptable range of that appellation.  2022 Les Secrets, St Chinian Blanc from Grenache Blanc and 30% Roussanne was lightly floral with a roundedpalate.2019 St Chinian rouge, a blend of Grenache Noir and Syrah with a little Carignan was quite firm and structured, with 12 months in old oak barrels.



The cooperative of Castelmaure, in Embrès-et-Castelmaure, up in the Corbières hills, is one of the leading cooperatives of the Languedoc.  I was surprised that they were seeking UK distribution, but it was good to meet the new director, Antoine Robert.  I first met the previous director on a visit in the last century and had seen him a few times since, most recently for a blog post.  And the wines at the tasting also deserve a separate post.   As do the other Corbières at the tasting, Domaine la Cendrillon, which was the very first estate I visited for The Wines of the Languedoc, with some stylish Corbières.  Château de Caraguilhes is another Corbières that I have never quite got round to visiting – my omission and again their wines deserve individual attention.


Domaine de Venus was a new discovery in Roussillon, based in Maury.  and an estate I would like to explore further.  


Domaine Ortola, as virtually the only estate of  the little known area of Quatourze, continues to fight a lone battle against urban encroachment outside Narbonne.   Nelson isthme third generation of the Ortola family that I have met, and he continues valiantly to make some very creditable wines. 

Elizabeth Poux from Domaine Pech Menel was showing some older vintages of St. Chinian, 2015 and 2009. The 2009 made a delicious finale. A blend of 60% Syrah, with 23% Grenache Noir and 17% Carignan.  The colour was beginning to evolve and the nose had some firm cedary notes, with maturing tertiary notes on the palate, cedar and dry leather.     It was evolving beautifully, proving that there is no reason why the wines of the Languedoc cannot age.  



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