Spotted this educational poster in the impressive new cave at the Domaine du Pas de l'Escalette
Nicely illustrates some of the frequently encountered French terms.
Frost in the Languedoc
6 days ago
|Despite being well into the second half of September the harvest had yet to start, some two weeks late as is the case for rest of the Hérault valley.
These prime Grenache bunchs are still a little rosé
|The valley is surrounded by woodland, mainly dense native oaks which means sanglier territory. All the Domaine's vineyards use electric fence protection, something I've not seen before for vines. I have though seen the results of sanglier grazed vines, they strip grapes from the stems as cleanly as any vendanges machine.|
|Young Carignan Blanc vines|
|Delphine Rousseau, fig basket to hand, explains all.|
The cliffs of the Larzac plateau provide a spectacular backdrop
|The Domaine Pas de l'Escalette line-up|
|Le Clos des Cyprès (sunshine version)|
|The tasting was followed by the finest bread, charcuterie and cheeses Les Halles in Narbonne had to offer plus a couple of interesting vin naturel reds. By now the storm had passed but persistent rain had set in. We retreated chez Hervé's and finished picking the next morning.|
|Nearly (late) lunch time|
|For a while now I’ve been contemplating a post along the lines of why I find it so hard to assess wine. For example, wines I taste and subsequently buy can disappoint when consumed chez nous. It could equally be called why I don’t give scathing wine reviews or, more debatably, the difference between amateurs and pros. I touched on this a few years back with my post on scoring wine.|
|Where||at home, restaurant/bar, tasting, winery, outdoors, party, in-flight etc.|
|When||time of day, maybe even the biodynamic calender|
|Who||family, friends, like-minded company, “commercial” situations|
|Whence||as in what was consumed (liquid or solid) in the build up to the moment|
|Whim||personal frame of mind, mood, ability to concentrate, preconception, bad day|
|With/without||food and what food|
|Weather||temperature (including the wine), humidity, even aircon etc.|
|Wine bottle||Stuff like when the bottle was opened, how recently bottled, storage conditions of older wines, state of the closure, tasted blind or not, knowledge of price.|
|Fish from the Mediterranean – thon (tuna), sardines, anchovies, boudroie (local name for lotte i.e. monkfish), rouget (red mullet), seiche (cuttlefish), pisseur (red squid), soupions (baby squid), poulpe (octopus), dourade (bream), loup (sea bass) – to name but a few. Sadly overfishing and the practice of landing immature fish threatens most of these species. As a result fish mongers are in decline.||
|All over the hills goat’s milk makes small Pélardons and Crotins. Perail is a creamier sheep’s cheese made throughout the region. Beyond the Causses are the mountains of the Auvergne and their famous cows cheeses – St. Nectaire, the Cantal family (Salers, Laguiole), Tommes of all descriptions etc.
Cebes, sweet white onions famous in the area around Lézignan-la-Cèbe in the Hérault valley.
|Figs – these grow wild and there are two seasons. In June some trees produce a fig-fleur that are delicate, fresh and succulent. From August the main crop is prolific.
There are several varieties, although relatively few travel or keep well enough to be commercially viable.
|Winter vegetables – the village of Pardailhan in the cooler Haut-Languedoc is renowned for its Navet de Pardailhan (black turnip that has white flesh), carrots and other root vegetables grown on a clay-limestone soil plateau.||
|Enormous lorry complete with pop-out sides|
|The grab arm feeds a whole row of bottles at a time|
|Everything is computerised|
|Checking the white Terret for clarity|
|Régis Pichon and David Caer (Clos Mathelisse) loading boxes onto palets|
|Les Temps des Cerises I recall having a red at the excellent restaurant Octopus
in Béziers 6 or 7 years ago and it stands out as my first
exposure to (as I can now associate) modern natural wine. Since then a couple of encounters have
sadly seen volatile wine falling apart, perhaps down to poor storage
by their guardians.
These examples, especially the reds, had the vibrant freshness I would have expected from a wine made in the relatively cool upper Orb valley north of Bedarieux.
|Far Ouest Mylène Bru is from the unfashionable (excepting Peyre Rose) Saint-Pargoire on the left bank of the Hérault. From Grenache, Carignan, Syrah with some Cinsault, Marselan and Tempranillo it's quite a rich full stlye and very Mediterranean without being heavy - clearly carefully made. At the more conventional end of the natural spectrum and none the worse for that.
I was served a glass last year at the (now closed) Le Mimosa restaurant, so high praise indeed.
Domaine Yannick Pelletier Saint-Chinian. L'Oiselet (Cinsault) is another wine I've had in several restaurants including the aforementioned Octopus in Béziers. It always has a nice pure and structured cutting fruit and drinks well, as it did at the fair.
l'engoulevent is more savoury and substantial (mainly Grenache, Carignan, Syrah) with lots going on under the surface.
I found Coccigrues too oaky, especially in the context of lunch time in the open air.
|La Fontude is a Domaine sited in the hills just to the west of Lake Saligou. I came across a bottle a few years ago but it didn't leave an impression. Clearly things have been refined as the "rouge" (Cinsault) was vibrant and delicious.|
The only disappointment was the 2006 Entremonde (Carignan, Aramon, Grenache, Cinsault) where the oak was still bullying the wine. Reusing the barrel made the younger vintages on show much more promising.
|Domaine Ribiera. Last but not least the home team from my village. Régis Pichon was showing two whites, Y'a un terret (Terret) and Les Canilles (Rousanne) that were the whites of the show. Both 2011s, they had been in bottle a year and settled down. I found them the best whites on show. The Terret had a light racy crunch with attractive mouth feel while the Canilles is more aromatic but not at all heavy - fresh fennel and citrus peel.|
|Weed killer free vineyard enjoys a wet 2013 spring|
|Old Cinsault vine bud-burst 22nd April 2013|