Friday, 29 April 2011

Montpeyroux Toutes caves ouvertes 2011

As local village wine events go this is the one to look out for. My first, back in 2003 on a sweltering June day, was a memorable family bash and included a twinning with the other Montpeyroux up in the Puy-de-Dôme. This made it replete with the likes of Aubrac cattle and aligot (melted cheese and potato). Subsequent years have been patchy on the animations and attendance front. One year it was cancelled altogether at a few weeks notice when someone twigged it clashed with the annual Roger Pingeon cycle race that needed open streets.

This year was well advertised and organised, well attended and blessed with ideal tasting sunshine. 17 Domaines is perhaps too much, especially as they they all offered at least three wines. Tactics were to start with the established stars with fresh palates.

A weeks holiday back in 1993 ended up in a nearby village by complete chance and marked a personal discovery of the region. A visit to Aupilhac was a wine highlight. These days the cave seems to have expanded into the houses next door, but there are still star wines. From a rather rapid fire tasting I would highlight Le Carignan 2009, still the regions benchmark for that grape, supple and complex with lovely grip. Montpeyroux Red 2008 and 2003 with the latter ageing well for the legendary canicule year. Cocalières 2008 red, from vines planted by Sylvain Fatat high above the village, had great elegance. Of the whites Cocalières 2010 blanc stood out - fresh white flowers and, in this vintage, the right amount of oak for me.

Along with Aupilhac, Pascale Rivière's La Jasse Castel set a very high standard. The 1998 vintage was her first and at the time the wines made a memorable impression with their clear expressive style. All four current wines impressed. L'Égrisée (2010?) blanc intriguing floral and citrus grapefruit, La Pimpanella 2009 a straightforward red with heady primary fruits and quite gourmandise, La Jasse with its seductive Syrah that doesn't bully. Finally La Combariolles proved that serious Grenache is growing on me, but is sadly expensive to make (€27). Pascale also invited us to taste a stunning library selection going back to 2000. It proves the wines age well with the great 2001 vintage shining along with 2000. Plenty of complex mushrooms and forest floor.

Also of note was Alain Chabanon's wines. Campredon 2009 rouge with a nice perfume and balance offers plenty for €10. L'Esprit de Font Caude 2006 was surprisingly expressive but needs time to develop complex layers - it has a track record, Alain has been making it for at least 10 years.

Mas d’Amile make one wine, a pure Carignan that I discovered at the 2009 Montpeyroux bash. The 2007 has developed hedgerow flavours and still has great meaty tannins. 2008 is supple and fresh while the 2009 is earthier and currently a bit chunkier. All recommended and great value at around €8.

Three other estates sadly disappointed with two hampered by following the stunning quality of La Jasse Castel. Next year will need a strategy that visits more caves.


  1. Graham, I am so jealous. I fell in love with Montpeyroux 2 years ago and the wines that go with the place. Aupilhac is my favourite too. I must look into La Jasse Castel. Tell me did you try the St Andrieu? I heard good things about the Morvedre heavy wines of theirs such as L'Yeuse Noir and would be interested to hear confirmation or contradiction.

  2. Alan - went to Saint Andrieu as the last stop, friends we were with had considered buying vines from their sister estate Boisantin a few years ago. The tasting was a bit sabotaged by the quality of La Jasse Castel "library" flight. Overall the St Andrieu wines had a sameyness and lacked vitality - sometimes a bit wine gummy. While the different terroirs and blends were discernible, it was a bit like watercolours where the paint had run into itself too much. My impression is the approach has remained static for many years (they had a 1999 I recall) while other estates in the area have overtaken them for now.

  3. Thank you for your interesting review. It was my first time at Montpeyroux; you're right that next time more of a strategy will be needed!