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- Older vintages of Gassac…
- Drinkers May Be Divided Into Four Classes – with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- MINERVOIS MINERVE
- DOMAINE PIERRE CROS, Minervois
The mysteries remain,
I keep the same
cycle of seed-time
and of sun and rain;
Demeter in the grass,
renew and bless
Bacchus in the vine;
I hold the law,
I keep the mysteries true,
the first of these
to name the living, dead;
I am the wine and bread.
I keep the law,
I hold the mysteries true,
I am the vine,
the branches, you
MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC ROUGE
MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC ROUGE- special release – stored in Gassac cellars
MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC ROUGE
MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC ROUGE
MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC ROUGE
These vintages are only indicative. Other vintages may be available on request.
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LIMOUX, COTES DE MALEPERE & CABARDES
This part of the Languedoc is centred around the city of Carcassonne and its spectacular medieval citadel. To the south west is the town of
Limoux with its tradition of sparkling wines: Blanquette and Cremant de Limoux. The traditional grape variety here is Mauzac but more
recently Chenin, Chardonnay and red varieties have been planted. Blanquette is claimed as the oldest sparkling wine in France, predating
Dom Perignon’s happy accident by about half a century. The still wine whites of Limoux were given AOC status in 1993. The variety of
microclimates and aspects has led to the definition of four different zones: Autan, Oceanique, Mediterranean and Haute-Vallée. This is a
comparatively small region, although each of the sub-zones displays markedly different characteristics. The Cave Cooperative de Limoux
is responsible for about three quarters of the production in the area; as well as making sparkling wines they produce Chardonnay from the
four climats. The Haute-Vallée, from vines grown at 450m in altitude, reveals the tightest structure with marked acidity and the greatest
ageing potential, and is, to coin a cliché, Burgundian.
The Côtes de la Malepère is at the frontier of the Languedoc and Aquitaine, what the French call le partage des eaux, the watershed between
the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. As Rosemary George writes in her excellent book “The Wines of the South of France” the vineyards
are “a melting pot of grape varieties… Midi mingling with Bordeaux”. Climatically, the Malepère has more affinity to the Atlantic, although
the vegetation is mixed as is the terroir ranging from sandstone terraces of glacial origin, to slopes of clay and limestone to gravel. The
primary grape varieties are Merlot, Malbec and Cinsault; Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Grenache Noir are also present. Certainly, the Bordeaux
varieties seem to be gaining favour at the expense of the Languedoc ones. The wines from this area of are good inexpensive examples of
wannabe claret (though why would you wannabe claret) with sweet ripe fruit flavours, graceful pepperiness and quenchworthy acidity.
That’s the sort of Cabernet Franc that wins instant converts. Try it with lentils with bacon or cassoulet.
Accorded appellation status in 1998 Cabardès lies north-west of Carcassonne and is separated from the Minervois by the river Orbiel.
This climate is locally described as vent d’est, vent d’ouest, where soft and cool Atlantic winds blend with the heat of the Mediterranean
sun, where wheat is grown in the west and where lavender and thyme flourish in the south, where Bordeaux grape varieties live alongside
those of the Languedoc. The name Cabardès originates from Cathar times referring to the local lords of Cabaret who defended Château de
Lastours against Simon de Montfort in the 13
TOQUES ET CLOCHERS, LES CAVES DU SIEUR D’ARQUES, Limoux
We call the Chardonnay our “petit Meursault”. The elevage of the wine is in new oak, which confers complex flavours
of melted butter, nuts, caramel and toast. There is also a delicious lemony twist in the finish. Yet another wine where
the accent is on terroir and minimal intervention. Ages wonderfully too. Watch out for the punt on this bottle, deep
enough for a small sommelier to disappear into. The Toques et Clochers refers to an auction of exceptional barrels
from the best parcelles on the Sunday before Easter every year. A gala dinner is cooked by a celebrity chef (hence the
Toque – the chef’s traditional tall white hat) whilst the proceeds of the auction go to a different Limoux wine village
each year – to be used for the restoration of its bell tower (the Clocher).
LIMOUX CHARDONNAY, TOQUES ET CLOCHERS
DOMAINE LES HAUTES TERRES, GILLES AZAM, Limoux - Organic
Gilles Azzam comes from the village of Roquetaillade in the upper valley of the Aude in the Limoux zone. This is the foothills of the
Pyrenees, climatically at the junction of the Atlantic and Mediterranean influences. The village nestles in an ampitheatre, the vines
are on surrounding hills, some covered with garrigue, others covered in woods, dry on the one side, moist on the other. The soil is an
ochre-coloured marly clay with sandstone containing plentiful fossils (this area was once under the sea). The organically-farmed
Chardonnay vines are on north and north east facing slopes at between 450-600 metres, the better to preserve the natural acidity in
the grapes. After cold settling the Chardonnay is fermented for a month in stainless tank before six months ageing in concrete vats.
The malolactic is completed, the wine is bottled with a light filtration and a relaitvely low amount of sulphur added.
JOSEPHINE CREMANT DE LIMOUX
VIN DE FRANCE BLANC « LES (H)AUTRES TERRES »
Drinkers May Be Divided Into Four Classes – with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Sponges, who absorb all they drink, and return it nearly in the same state, only a little dirtied.
Sand-glasses, who retain nothing, and are content to get through a bottle of wine for the sake of getting through the time.
Strain-bags, who merely retain the dregs of what they drink.
Mogul Diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they drink, and enable others to profit by it also.
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is to be fertile. Dissension, diversity, the grain of salt and mustard are needed…
blood, but it nutrifieth also, being a glutinous substantial liquor; of this wine, if of any other, may be verified that merry
induction: That good wine makes good blood, good blood causeth good humors, good humors cause good thoughts, good
thoughts bring forth good works, good works carry a man to heaven, ergo, good wine carrieth a man to heaven.”
James Howell (1594-1666)
DOMAINE DE ROUDENE, BERNADETTE & JEAN-PIERRE FAIXO, Fitou
In Occitan “fita” means border or frontier and Fitou sat on the border of France and Catalonia. The climate is
Mediterranean with long hot summers and mild winters. The dry winds of the Pyrenees, like the Tramontana, help to
make this region one of the driest in France. This is a land of magically shaped mountains, ravines, tablelands where
shrubs scented with thyme and lavender grow, and the dizzy medieval citadels preside over an extraordinary
countryside. Fitou, like other appellations, has a wonderful variety of landscapes, climbing from the sea and lagoons
to the white schistous escarpments and the limestone plug of Mont Tauch. The wines show potential, although have yet
to garner the critical plaudits of Minervois and Corbières, for example. Gnarled Carignan and wizened Grenache rule
the cépage roost here, with Syrah and a tad of Mourvèdre adding spike and length to the typical blend. Syrah is
gaining ground in the hills; it contributes a flowery note with hints of red fruits and juniper.
The AOC area includes wines from selected parcels of the communes Fitou, Cascatel, Caves-de-Treilles, La Palme,
Leucate, Paziols, Treilles, Tuchan en Villeneuve-des-Corbières.
rationalise the estate by inducing other growers to exchange bits of land for his own, but as Paul Strang writes: “in a
country where the ownership of a particular plot has a symbolic importance beyond the quality of the purpose to
which it is put, progress is slow”.
One superb wine from this consistent estate. The baby wine is from grapes grown on the terraces of argilo-calcaire
and is a blend of Carignan (50%), Grenache (30%) and Syrah (20%). Everything is done traditionally; harvest is by
hand when grapes have reached full phenolic maturity whilst a long cuvaison of twenty-one days and pigeage helps to
extract all the aromatic components. The wine is bright and purple with blueish tints, with a fine complex nose of
confit fruits, red and black berries suffused with peppery spices and notes of bay and clove. The feel of the wine in the
mouth is fresh and lively and the tannins are fine and supple. And for food? Terrine of wild hare, persillade of cepes,
boned baked shoulder of lamb, saltimbocca etc.
FITOU, CUVEE JEAN DE PILA
…Mark these rounded slopes
With their surface fragrance of thyme and beneath
A secret system of caves and conduits
That spurt everywhere with a chuckle
Each filling a private pool for its fish and carving
Its own little ravine whose cliffs entertain
The butterfly and lizard…
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CHATEAUX OLLIEUX ROMANIS, PIERRE BORIES, Corbières
Corbières is the largest of the appellations in the Languedoc-Roussillon with a large number of cooperatives and hundreds of
independent growers. The region enjoys a history that goes back to the Greek settlements in the second century BC. This is
Cathar country with a vengeance. The legacy of that terrible conflict lives on today and there is strong sympathy for those
early rebels who reflect so much of the Languedocian temperament. In case you think this is a digression there still remains a
strong independent spirit. The riots of 1907 when the vignerons took on the government have been echoed down the ages since
when desperate farmers have taken the law into their own hands to protect a heritage that is their livelihood.
to Mont d’Alaric, the Carignan grape reigns supreme. The sheer diversity of the district and the designated eleven terroirs
suggest that several crus will be created. Variety and contrast is noticeable also in the soil formation. The eruption of the
Pyrenees has resulted in layers of different type of soil and subsoil. Erosion has contributed also. In the north there is red
sandstone as well as pebbly terracing, while in the heart of the mountains there is marl as well as some shale, and, by the sea,
coral-like chalk. The hot, dry climate ensures a long growing cycle for the vines, and the winds keep to a minimum the need
for chemical treatments in the vineyard.
A family owned vineyard for several generations Château Les Ollieux Romanis is in Montseret (renowned for honey flavoured
with thyme, rosemary and lavender), situated in the heart of the Boutenac region, an area dedicated to the culture of the vine
since Roman times. The vines are located on a sheltered hillside facing south east. The Cuvée Classique Rouge is a blend of
Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah from vines planted on hard red clay soil. The wine is fermented and then aged in
tank for 12-18 months. Luscious red and black flavours are counterpointed by the drier garrigue notes of bayleaf and
rosemary, as well as tobacco leaf and pepper. The Cuvée Classique Blanc is a mixture of Roussanne and Marsanne from
yields of no more than 40hl/ha. Vinification is in tank with an upbringing in oak involving a period on the lees with regular
batonnage. This yields intriguing flavours of orange blossom and exotic fruits, such as ripe banana, pineapple, lychee and
papaya. A peculiar wine best enjoyed by a frumious bandersnatch after a hard day’s whiffling through a tulgey wood. The
Cuvée Prestige Rouge from Carignan vines (up to 100 years old) plus the usual grape suspects (see Classique blend) has
concentrated flavours of black cherries, cocoa butter, liquorice and balsam. Aged in wood for about fifteen months this
Corbières is impressive in youth, but could happily snort awhile in the Seven Sleepers’ Den.
“Lo Petit Fantet” is a blend of old vines Carignan with Syrah and Grenache grown on limestone-clay. After a carbonic
maceration, vinification is in cement without sulphur using indigenous yeast. Cherry-red with violets glints Lo Petit has an
intense nose with sweet raspberry and kirsch fruit, lovely balance despite its powerful alcohol and a herbal undertow. Try it
The Alicante grape has virtually disappeared from France today. Its role formerly was as a Teinturier grape, to add
colour to the pale, weak and wibbly vin de table plonk sloshing around the Midi. Nowadays it has acquired a weird
cachet. Set aside your snotty wine prejudices; gaze deeply and adoringly into these atramentous depths and suck in
that peppery mulberry fruit. The facts: manual harvesting, a meagre yield of 25 hectolitres per hectare and one
hundred year old vines, a mere annual production of five hundred cases, pas de filtration or fining and we’ve copped
the lot! The wine develops sensationally in the glass; the flavours seem to arch out across the palate. Biodynamics
may literally be wired to the moon, but don’t knock it! Bouschet to leave you bouche-bée and the ultimate Aude-job!
Finally the Atal Sia grown on the pudding stone (over sandstone) terroir of Boutenac is a lush confection of Carignan
45%; Grenache 25%; Mourvèdre 25% and a dollop of Syrah for poke. No oak here yet this is still a deep and intense
wine with black fruits, orange peel, spice and liquorice and a smooth, silky, almost sweet palate.
These wines make me feel hungry. So here are some local dishes to play with. A garlicky calamari salad or bourride
therosé, whilst the robust whites would cope well with a salt cod brandade or chicken sautéed with morels. The reds
would go variously with Laguiole cheese, duck with orange, lamb stew, roast pigeon with peas or rabbit in chocolate
sauce or a Roussillonnade of sausages and mushrooms grilled on pine cones.
CORBIERES BLANC CUVEE CLASSIQUE
CORBIERES ROUGE, CUVEE ALICE
« LO PETIT FANTET DE L’HIPPOLYTE »
CORBIERES ROUGE CUVEE CLASSIQUE
CORBIERES-BOUTENAC ROUGE CUVEE PRESTIGE
CORBIERES BOUTENAC “ATAL SIA”
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A jutting outcrop of burnished stone blotted against the blue of the sky, perched like the ark of the deluge on the spur of a plateau,
precarious on the brink of the twofold precipice of the Cesse and of the Brian, a village above and beyond the world, ruling with fierce
pride over a desert of brush and stones, scarred with gorges, pitted with caves, dotted here and there with ancient dolmens and isolated
farmsteads, a steep steppe where the sun strikes, incandescent, against the dreaming spires and where the cruel light plays strange tricks
upon the eyes – mirages that recall to life the hunters of prehistory, the march of Roman legions, the sly shades of visigothic archdeacons
and of rapacious feudaries, the fearful fires of a vengeful Simon de Monfort and the horrors of charring human flesh and yet, through the
clouds of acrid smoke one can, it seems, descry the dulcet features of fair young damsels, sprung from the lays of Ramon de Miraval, and,
in their midst, the manly form of Raymond Roger Trencavel.
Adapted from Maurice Chauvet – Translated by David Bond
CLOS DE L’AZEROLLE (CHATEAU MIRAUSSE), RAYMOND JULIEN, Minervois
Located in Badens due east of Carcassonne in the south west part of Minervois, Raymond Julien is a grower to watch. Le Clos
de l’Azerolle is pure (and I mean pure) Carignan from fifty year old vines, sinewy yet supple, brambly chewy fruit with a most
agreeable iron-earthiness. This is wine that sits up, barks and makes you take notice. Once you taste it you will buy it. One to
stick your spurtle into. “Fruit to the fore and promising. Rich, dark berries and spice with sweet oak. Supple and full. Modern
style but well done,” says Decanter awarding it four stars. All wines experience varying degrees of carbonic maceration.
MINERVOIS, LE ROUGE DE L’AZEROLLE
MINERVOIS, L’AZEROLLE VIEILLES VIGNES
DOMAINE PIERRE CROS, Minervois
Un caractère d’acier, un terroir de feu.
Situated in Badens, a few kilometres from Carcassonne, the vineyards of Domaine Cros sit on the poorest of poor
shallow stony argilo-calcaire soils so stark and inhospitable in certain places that only the vine and the olive tree can
scratch an existence. The love of this arid terroir, where the drought seems more extreme than elsewhere, has induced
Pierre Cros to preserve ancient parcels of Aramon (planted in 1930), Piquepoul Noir (1910), Alicante (1927) and
Carignan (1910) alongside the more classic “noble” (parvenu) varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.
The Minervois tradition provides superb value for money. A more conventional blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah it
yields sweet red fruits whilst retaining the warmth and herby grip of terroir. The Minervois Blanc is lovely – a field blend of
Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Muscat à Petit Grains and Piquepoul Blanc. Typically floral and resinous at the same time this
white conjures dried apricots and plums sprinkled with garrigue notes of fennel and broom. The Minervois vieilles vignes is
from vines nearly one hundred years old and is another reason why we shouldn’t pension off the Carignan grape.
MINERVOIS BLANC “LES COSTES”
MINERVOIS ROUGE TRADITION
MINERVOIS ROUGE VIEILLES VIGNES
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