Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Salon des Vins Nature Bédarieux

This was a first visit to what has become a regular spring event in Bédarieux organised by Christine Cannac. Held in the small sheltered Place outside her wine bar Chai Christine Cannac, the organisation was exceptional. Having commented on the somewhat limited publicity, any more attendees would have made it overcrowded. To sustain everyone there was an efficient buffet serving inexpensive tasty plates. Live music boosted the atmosphere. All of the 64+ wines on tasting were for sale, but could only be purchased from the chai - a neat idea freeing the vignerons to devote all their attention to showing their wines. It also made buying much easier - I would have needed to return and interrupt four growers.

The overall standard of wines was high and nothing I tasted (just over half the wines) were overly volatile or funky. By and large the grapes were allowed to show some varietal characteristics. While it no doubt helped that all the bottles were brought by the producers, it can also be seen as a sign of vins naturels coming of age - at least for the growers invited and what they presented. Vintages were mainly 2013.

Mas D'Agalis is a wine I've enjoyed on several occasions but is rarely seen and overdue a mention on this blog. Made in Nébian between the "official" appellations of Terrasses du Larzac and Pezenas, the reality is that there are bits of terroir here with equivalent potential.Yo no puedo mas is a blend of the mainstream Languedoc red varieties and exudes balanced fruit with elegance and crunch. The white Grande Carré is half Terret with Vermentino plus several other varieties and showed a lovely structure with a citrus finish. With both at just under €10 a bottle these were some of the best value wines on show.

La Fontude also joins the category of rarely seen. Entremonde has Carignan and Aramon as the main grapes and I like the polished hardness and hint of nostalgic mouth feel on the palate.

The new to me Domaine Riverton was showing a particularly attractive Carignan Tombée du Ciel that oozed freshness with a fruit perfume the Roussillon can so well. The Blanc Bec was intriguing as I found it quite reductive - match head and flint - that would no doubt subside with a good decant and shake.

Mas Coutelou was showing an interesting rosé and two elegant and lively reds 5 SO (a pun on Cinsault) and Classe (Carignan). All were excellent value.

Yannck Pelletier's is an established name and his wines are seen on many of the regions best wine lists. L'Oiselet (Cinsault) has always been reliable over the years and this 2013 had nice mouth grip with cool and (but not over the top) gourmandise fruits.

Julien Peyras is another Hérault valley grower with vineyards above Paulhan north of Pézenas. My favourite was Lo Tarral (Grenach, Syrah, Carignan) with some nice supple fruit but at €14 not great value.

Léon Barral's wines stood out in more ways than one - style and price. There was more concentration and extraction than anything else tasted on the day. Potential was there for layers of complexity, but on the day integrated structure was lacking. Bottles to keep and revisit. One attendee I was chatting to was very enthusiastic over the €40 Valinières, no doubt seduced by the (well judged) oak ageing.

I deliberately tasted Domaine Ribiera and Clos Methélisse wines last as a point of reference. While I certainly had palate fatigue by then it did confirm that the the €11 and under wines were the stars on the day.

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