Epicuvin, who describe themselves as a club of wine and gastronomy lovers from Montpellier. Overall this was a slightly disappointing showcase for Bio wines. Several producers offered poor value and there were also too many underwhelming wines, an observation magnified by a few notable exceptions. That said, "regular" wine shows in France are just as variable, but if you're going to have a Bio/Natural Wine event they need to excel and differentiate themselves in the glass as well as on paper.
The event took place at a rather soulless resort complex the Résidence Domaine du Golf near Fabrègues east of Montpellier. A navigation check on Google Streetview reveals a scene of bulldozed terrain - that's how new this regimented village is. Fear not though, the spacious tasting hall turned out to be near ideal.
There were 17 producers billed, including 10 from the Languedoc and Roussillon. About the right number although the majority were showing five or more wines. It was also worryingly quiet on the Saturday and several producers understandably vacated their pitch for a early and long lunch. A few didn't even turn up, at least for the morning.
There were no new "discoveries" to report at producer level, but there were some interesting individual wines.
I enthused about the 2008 red from La Réserve d'O back in April. Equally impressive is the white (2009?) lovely balance, fresh, clean yet complex with hints of white flowers, fennel and preserved lemon. Unusual blend of Chenin, Grenache and Roussane grown at 400m above Arboras in the Terrasses du Larzac. Sanssoo is a play on Cinsault (but also has some Syrah) and never sees sulphur so is natural wine by any definition (La Réserve d'O is also biodynamic). Harmonious ripe red fruits and unusually fresh raspberries - a flavour and berry rare in the Languedoc. Along with Mas Gabriel they were the star attendees with wines I'd be happy to, and do, buy.
Mas Delmas is at Salses-le-Château just north of Perpignan. I found the whites more successful and the Marie Delmas Muscat Sec, a blend of Muscat de Petits Grains and often derided Alexadria, the most interesting. It combined aromatic grapeyness with a backbone of earthiness and grapefruit peel. Their reds disappointed - jammy sums them up.
Domaine Mămăruta just north of Fitou is relatively near Mas Delmas. A white from 70% Macabeu and 30% Carignan Blanc showed best - a nice balanced seafood wine with a pleasant acidic bite. Otherwise an oaked nutty Muscat was a bit too offbeat and another white just apples.
Stella-Nova at Caux (Pézenas) takes low sulphur seriously and their white Les Pléiades 2009 from mainly Grenache Blanc and Clairette was a fine effort - delicate yeasty eldeflower. The red Mira Ceti is zero sulphur and I just noted cider.
Mas Zenitude is sited in the hallowed Montpeyroux/St Jean de Fos patch of the Terrasses du Larzac. Audace 2009 is admirably pure Cinsault. Fresh, not heady, nice mouth feel and quite tasty. Vent d'Anges 2009 is a well made carignan - ripe, soft fruit with some classy smoke and tapenade. Only problem is the RPQ (15€ and 20€ respectively).
Domaine Turner Pageot at Gabian is just to the south of Faugères. I found their whites different and a very personal style. For example La Rupture 2009 is an oaked Sauvignon Blanc with plenty going on - coriander seeds, preserved lemon, resins and cats. I returned later to try the reds and left with an impression of fruit driven wines with an oak backbone.
In the 1990 I was an admirer of Domaine Henry (Saint Georges d'Orques) who were on an early wave of the region's rising stars. The reds were always an oaked style and my personal taste has moved on. Nevertheless, I was shocked at how inaccessably woody they were. In their defence they are food wines that need ageing, but cheap they are not. The wines also seemed totally out of character if one of the objectives of organic practices is to allow terroir to express itself.
I didn't taste Abbaye de Valmagne having drunk quite a few in the recent past and always finding them a bit overworked and short on character.
One out of region wine demanded a mention. Domaine du Picatier is a Côte Roannaise by the upper reaches of the Loire. They make a nice fresh Chardonnay, easy drinking Gamays and a delicious, balanced gourmandaise Pinot Noir 2009 Auver-Nat-Noir.
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