Tuesday 16 October 2012

Divem - Divine

In May this year, hubby and I had a wonderful time in Montpeyroux/St Saturnin, celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss. We walked up Mount Baudile, drove around in a 60 year old Lancia and ate at David and Bridget Pugh's fabulous Mimosa restaurant (which is, sadly, just about to close).

The next morning I popped into the wine shop in Montpeyroux Les Terrasses de Mimosa, also owned by the Pughs. Very dangerous as the next half hour was spent stocking up on some familiar labels and on some that I have never heard of but was keen to discover.

Some women buy shoes, others handbags. My vice can at least be shared and on this occasion Divem was consumed with dear husband and Barrie, a wine loving friend who stayed for a few days to help us with the harvest. I am glad that I didn't open this over the summer as this is definitely an Autumnal wine. Not so much mists and mellow fruitfulness as nippy nights and curling up infront of a crackling fire.

Divem is a tiny domaine of 3.5 hectares which made its first vintage in 2000. Gil Morrot is the man behind it and he started by making the wine in Alain Chabanon's cellar before finding his own cave. He makes only 3 wines; two AOC Coteaux du Languedoc Montpeyroux and a vin de table, called Carpe Divem, based on Merlot.

Divem 2008 is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, aged in oak for 30 months. The oak has fleshed out the palate but it does not scream oak. There are lots of gentle meaty, gamy flavours mingling with nutmeg, pepper and plums. Very complex and very big but with smooth tannins. Although it is clearly a full-bodied wine, it holds its alcohol well, all 15,5% of it. Not surprising that the note on the website mentions that it took a while to ferment to dryness!

I haven't visited this domaine but on the strength of tasting Divem 2008 I have put it on my list. Have a look at the Divem website which contains a photographic illustration of the domaine and its approach. Lots of pretty pictures to enjoy, even if you don't understand French.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Carignan - pumpover and ferment

Some pix of the Carignan pumpover and showing off the good colour extraction on day 2 of fermentation.

I also took an extremely nerdy video of the fermentation which you can see bubbling away through the sides of the fibre glass tank.  Yes, I know it's sad.... 

There seems to be an Italian theme here. Tasting glass is from Piemonte, the tank was made in Italy and the yeast I used was developed in Sicily.

Monday 8 October 2012

Harvesting Carignan

We picked our Carignan yesterday. Beautifully healthy, ripe grapes. I am so looking forward to seeing what the wine is like. The vines are nearly 60 years old and, to my knowledge, this is the first time that the grapes have ever been vinified on their own. They've always been lost in the blend at the local co-op.

Many thanks to our team of French, Scottish, English, Polish and New Zealand grape pickers, young and old!

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Rainy days

It absolutely tipped it down last weekend which wasn't ideal. Firstly, we still have some Carignan out there which is nearly but not quite ripe. Secondly, we had some old friends from Uni staying whom I hadn't seen for a very long time. As our plans for a day hiking in the garrigue was out of the question, we took the only sensible alternative. Food and wine. I raided the wine cellar and did an impromtu tutored wine tasting. Of Languedoc wines of course.

We started with some bubbles, the 2010 vintage of Cremant de Limoux 1531 from Sieur d'Arques. Cue the story of how sparkling wine was 'invented' in Limoux. As one would expect, this was very well made. Fresh and easy with good mid-palate richness.

We happened to have a bottle of Mas de Daumas Gassac White 2010 in the fridge, so that was opened next. An eclectic, unoaked blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Petit Manseng which is bottled young. I found the nose a bit funky - honey, floral and exotic fruits but almost too exotic and overripe. Definite sweetness on the palate and rich, vinous, exotic mouthfeel but not quite enough acidity to balance. I loved the 2009 so was disappointed. However I have found in the past that this white goes through a dumb or discordant period and comes right again in a few months. I have five more bottles so will try again in the new year.

La Voulte Gasparets seldom disappoints. Nor did it that evening with the 2010 Cuvée Reserve Corbières.  A whiff of the garrigue and leather on the nose and decent concentration of plum and blackberrry fruit, again with a spicy/meaty edge. All nicely balanced with user friendly tannins. Well worth the 9€ I'd paid for it in Carrefour earlier that day.

However the star of the show was definitely D'Aupilhac 2005, Montpeyroux. I decanted it beforehand, anticipating that it would take time to unfurl. A glorious nose of leather, plums, smoked meat, wild herbs ...  Beautiful mid-palate richness and lovely ripe plummy fruit. Lots of complexity here - from (a somewhat hazy) memory, meaty, smoky, all framed by plump, smooth tannins. Excellent finish.

Sadly we were too  befuddled to attempt the Muscat de St Jean de Minervois from Michel Poudou at Domaine de Montahuc. But I had it the other day and it is suitably fragrant and elegant with a lovely seam of acidity running through it. Delicious.

Rain? What rain?

Sunday 16 September 2012

Lou Cayla harvest 2012

We picked our Syrah yesterday, under a bright, beautiful Languedoc sky. The grapes look fabulous - gloriously healthy and delicious.

Many thanks to our international team of pickers who not only harvested the grapes but also hand destemmed them when our destemming machine misbehaved. Now that's dedication!

Friday 10 August 2012

Hand labelling at Lou Cayla

With a total production around 500 bottles,  labelling by hand is a breeze. Particularly with willing guests such as Mal, Ali and Ben (wielding the heat gun). However, getting the label absolutely straight is surprisingly difficult, and best attempted before lunch!

Monday 2 July 2012

Winning Corbières in Narbonne

Last Monday I spent a very hot and sticky hour at the CIVL offices in Narbonne, tasting a selection of Corbières. All the wines had won a gold medal in the Concours interprofessonnel des Vins de Corbères.

It's always difficult tasting in the heat and while there is usually enough ice to keep whites and rosés fresh, reds suffer more unless the producers have the time to play the hokey-kokey with ice buckets for them too. My favourite reds were from two estates that I already know well. Ollieux Romanis Prestige 2009 was beautifully balanced with silky tannins and a minerally, spicy complexity. Château de Cendrillon Inèdite also had lovely elegant tannins and excellent concentration of flavour to support the oak. Lots there but not overextracted at all. The Cave co-op at Gruissan had managed to get the temperature just right for their Les Pujots 2010, an attractive spicy, tarry wine with lots of red/black fuit.

Château des Amandières Corbières was from 2011 and was inky and brimming with vibrant fruit, thanks to its youth and to carbonic maceration for Carignan and Syrah and cold soaking for Grenache. Should be delicious in 6 months. Chateau Vieux Moulin Les Ailes 2010 was very concentrated and extracted with plum/plum flavours but I found the tannins rather stewy. Similarly extracted and very powerful was En Sol Majeur from Domaine du Grand Arc in Cucugnan. 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah, aged in oak for a year. No sulphur added until the bottling. Inky, minerally and needing a knife and fork to consume it. Not my style, too OTT, but I'd like to retaste in cooler conditions.

I was pleased to taste the Rosé and red from Domaine Combe Grande in Camplong d'Aude. My local wine shop in Argeliers, Bouchon et Tradition had raved about the red and indeed it is a lovely wine, appealing red/black fruit, a touch of spice and well-managed tannins and all for under 6€. It was their Rosé that won the gold and very nice it was too - fresh, candied with a herbal nose. Château Canos is well known for their Rosé - it accounts for 85% of their production - so no surprise that it had won a gong. Rosé made from press rather than saignée (difficult to do saignée when you only make 15% red!) and from Grenache Gris and Noir. Refreshing with lots of strawberry and redcurrant flavours, and a touch of herbs.

The only whites I tasted were from Roque Sestière who are better known for their whites than their reds. Their Vieilles Vignes white, made from 55% Maccabeu, 35% Grenache, 10% Roussanne was delicious with ripe apple and peach flavours, a hint of almond and a minerally edge.

Thursday 21 June 2012


Some arty shots of flowering in our Carignan vineyard. Taken last week.