Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Festival des vins natures 4th edition Roquebrun

The marketing for this event is pretty specialised, seemingly through growers and cavistes. It was also spot on, buzzing not heaving and with nearly 200 seated for the long late lunch. Fewer were there earlier for the Balade vines to Domaine Marquise des Mures on the hillside above Roquebrun, an informative and pleasant prequel to the tasting. The setting, along the banks of the Orb in the shade of poplars, was idyllic.

General observations: -
  • These were wines at the natural end of spectrum – organic vineyard standards, "wild" fermentations, no or minimal sulphur added
  • The majority of growers come from less well known sites in their appellations. Cinsault and Terret were popular with most wines made way outside AOC regulations for grape variety percentages.
  • Oaked reds less common or toned down while some whites had too much and/or were too young (2012).
  • All wines leapt out of the glass showing their characters – no desperate glass swirling to coax closed wines
  • No prices with little selling taking place
  • Knowledgeable attendees
  • High quality wines, only one I though was at the limit of VA and a couple were a bit too rustic, plus many of the 2012s on show needed longer to settle down in bottle.
Some highlights (from memory, nobody was making notes)

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.



  1. Graham - I am intrigued by the sound of the Mylène Bru Far-Ouest. Google doesn't reveal an awful lot, except for the fact that her wines (including a white Chasselas) seem to garner praise. No sign of any contact details or address, though. Do you have any such information?

    1. Leon - she lives in Sete so can be looked up in pagesjaunes.fr
      She told us Gergovie Wines 40 Maltby Street (a wine bar and caviste) import her wine.
      There's a nice interview on wine searcher of all places http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2013/01/q-and-a-winemaker-mylene-bru-saint-pargoire-languedoc