Top 100 - 2024


I usually taste for the annual competition for the Top 100 Languedoc wines, but this year my nose was out of order, so no point in tasting if you can't small.......  Consequently, I was very keen to see what had actually made the cut, and found a really interesting selection of wines, offering some delicious drinking.  


First, the highlights among the white wines. 


Domaine des Lauriers produced my favourite amongst the Viognier, with some good varietal character.  


2023 Tartuyo, Pays d’Oc  from Mas des Auribelles, an estate near Pézenas, was an intriguing blend of  Bourboulenc, Terret and Viognier.  


2022 Vieilles Pierres, Pays d’Oc from Domaine de la Cendrillon in the Corbières is a satisfyingly textured blend of Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris, with some floral notes and youthful potential. 


2022 Dame Jeanne, IGP St Guilhem le Désert from Bergerie du Capucin in the Pic St Loup is another original blend of Chardonnay, Viognier,  Vermentino and Grenache Blanc, again with some appealing floral notes  and refreshing acidity.  


There was a selection of Picpoul de Pinet, with four out of six wines from the cooperative in Pomerols, les Costières de Pomerols.  Baron de Badassière and Baron de Guers got my vote.  Both were nicely salty and focussed.


There were a pair of Clairette du Languedoc.  Despite being the oldest white wine appellation of the Languedoc, created in 1948, with Clairette one of the old, original varieties of the region.  it is often overlooked.   However, it does not pack a punch of flavour but is more restrained and textured in flavour.  The unoaked wine, Heritage – An 77, from Gérard Bertrand was my favourite of the two.


Next came some rosés, including the lone sparkling wine of the 100, Sieur d’Arques Grande Cuvée 1531 Rosé, with some refreshing raspberry fruit.  And of the five still rosés, my vote goes to 2023 Cabrières, Fulcrand Cabanon, a blend of Cinsault and Grenache with some fresh dry raspberry fruit from the coop of Cabrières.  The village has long had a reputation for its rosé, with Gerard Bertrand at Clos du Temple the other producer.


Inevitably red wines formed the bulk of the competition and they got off to a very good start with a pure Carignan, 2022 Carignan 100 Ans, Pays d’Oc,  from Domaines Auriol, with some lovely fresh red berry fruit and a streak of tannin, making for a refreshing finish.


I was very pleased to see wines from the small family estate of La Voute du Verdus, based in the picturesque village of St Guilhem le Désert 2023 Cinsault Natura, St Guilhem le Désert, was delicious, with refreshing red fruit and balanced acidity, amply proving how suitable Cinsault is for red wine as well as pink.  2022 Cuvée le Grande Saut, AOP Languedoc, is a blend of all five Languedoc reds, with some peppery fruit.


Fellow MW Juliet Bruce-Jones at Domaine La Tasque in the Corbières was represented by a very convincing pure Syrah, 2018 IGP Aude, with black fruit and firm peppery notes, and promising potential.


Domaine de Soustres at Montady is a new estate in the IGP of Coteaux d’Ensérune.  2022 Limium Rouge is a blend of Grenache and Carignan, aged in oak, with quite a solid palate, belying the lighter colour, with some ripe fruit and a fresh finish.   I later met Jean-Paul Mamert who has developed the vineyards with his wife.  His day job is with the Crédit Agricole in Lille, but he spends as much time as he can in the south.  I also tried his white and rosé, both pure Grenache Gris and both delicious examples of the variety.


Mas Novi in the Grés de Montpellier was well represented, with 2019 Le Chemin de Novi, an unoaked Syrah and Grenache blend, providing easy drinking.  2019 Ô de Novi was richer and more concentrated with peppery fruit and youthful potential but gets a black mark for the heavy bottle.  As does the firmly structured 2019 Prestigi, which unlike the previous two wines was aged in oak and included some Mourvèdre in the blend.


Domaine de Cébène in Faugères was also well represented with a flight of three.  A youthful fresh 2021 Belle Lurette; 2021 les Bancèls with some restrained spice and a 2017 Felgaria with some depth and texture that was maturing nicely. 


There were a pair of Pic St Loup, both very stylish and worthy of their place in the Top 100.  Bergerie du Capucin 2021 Dame Jeanne had some elegant red fruit and Mas Bruguière 2022 l’Arbouse had some well-integrated oak with some spicy fruit.


2022 Clos Aguilem, Kiara from Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, was the lone Terrasses du Larzac with youthful fruit and a tannic finish.  There was a greater choice of St Chinian, with wines from the Roquebrun coop, Laurent Miquel and Château de Cifre, as well as Mas Champart which has long been one of my favourite St Chinian estates.  Their 2020 Causse du Bousquet was elegantly spicy and 2020 Clos de la Simonette more structured with oak ageing and youthful potential. 


Château Capitoul and Château l’Hospitalet represented La Clape.  I preferred Capitoul with some youthful spice, but it also gets a black mark for yet another heavy bottle. 


There were a pair of Minervois including Domaine de la Senche which was the very first Minervois estate that l ever visited back in 1981.  It is now owned by Norwegians, and I later met Arnstein Hernes.  Their 2020 Cuvée Somi, an oaked blend of Syrah and Carignan, had a lovely balance of spice and tannins and was enjoyed over dinner later that evening.


I am full of admiration for the Ortola family who fly a lone flag for the tiny appellation of Quatourze outside Narbonne.  2022 Ode à la Main, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre,  was a youthful blend of oak and fruit.


Domaine du Clos Charlotte in Cabardès is a new name to me.  2023 Gourmandise, an unoaked blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, had some firm cassis notes on both nose and palate.  With the Bordeaux grape variety, it is a quite different register of flavours.


There were more Corbières than most other appellations.  Les Celliers d’Orfée offered some good drinking with an oaked Croix du Sud and an easier Cuvée Sextant. The wines from Château de Lastours were a more serious proposition, with their Grande Réserve and Grand Vin, both with some oak ageing, and promising good ageing potential. 


The final Languedoc came from Fitou, Domaine du Vent, 2022 Comme un souffle, une caresse.  This is an estate that l have been promising to visit, and indeed would have done had a plumber not sabotaged my appointment.   On the strength of this wine, ça vaut le voyage - a good hour down the motorway - to Fitou.  It is an unoaked blend of Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Syrah with firm spice and rich fruit.  Nicely balanced. 


There were just thirteen wines from Roussillon, including just two vins doux naturels, a honeyed Muscat de Rivesaltes from the coop of Rivesaltes and a youthful Banyuls from Domaine de la Rectorie, with sweet red fruit.   Amongst the vins secs, my vote went to a pair of wines from Domaine de l’Edre, in the village of Tautavel, an unoaked 2022 Carrément Rouge with spicy ripe fruit and 2019 L’Edre which was sturdier and more concentrated with oak ageing.


And a pair of Côtes Catalanes came from Clos d’Elpis.  2022 Elpis Rouge is an unoaked Syrah with good varietal characteristics and 2022 Pandore from Grenache Noir with some oak displayed a satisfying balance of spice and oak on the palate.  At wine 90 my tasting notes were becoming increasingly minimalist, but l came away with many favourable impressions of new estates and optimism for a region that is fulfilling its potential. 





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