Thursday 6 May 2010

Pinot Noir from Domaine Pierre Cros

In the wake of the Pinot Noir scandal of the Aude where fake pinot was sent to Gallo, it is interesting to come across a Pinot which is definitely 100%, even if there is no clue to this on the label.

The Pinot in question comes from Pierre Cros in Badens, a staunch defender of terroir who makes wine from both traditional Languedoc varieties and newcomers. Labelled as a mere Vin de Table (hence no grape variety or vintage allowed on the label) this is a medium ruby black colour. Very dark but not opaque. Very spicy on the nose - almost cigar box and cloves ) with delicate plum and rose aromas. Full bodied on the palate (14.5%) with oodles of very ripe, creamy plum fruit with hints of spice - cloves again. The tannins are very ripe and smooth and the oak is well integrated. Good long finish. Only criticism is that the alcohol is a touch high for my tastes. An opulent Pinot Noir with very smooth tannins. From memory, around 18€ a bottle so not cheap, but good Pinot never is.

Sometimes amiable, sometimes enigmatic, ex-rugbyplayer Pierre is perhaps best known for his other Vin de table, Mal Aimés, made from traditional Languedoc varieties of Aramon, Alicante, Carignan and Picquepoul Noir. Historically, these varieties were massively overcropped and the resulting wines were poor quality. Aramon and Alicante in particular have been derided as poor quality and most have been grubbed up. While they may not be noble varieties and capable of greatness, Pierre proves that these 'unloved' grapes can produce a very pleasant, smoothly fruity red when the vines are old and yields are kept low.

If you can, visit Domaine Cros in Badens which is about 15 minutes from Carcassonne. His cave is right in the centre of the village and well signposted.


  1. I have never heard of Domaine Cros or its Mal Aimes, but it sounds like something I'd love to try; I always like to try these quirky old varietals (like the rare Chatus in the Ardeche). But I'm sure I'd have to visit the domaine to try it, and I don't know when I'll be back to that area (my wife and I were last there about 5 years ago).
    As to the Pinot Noir. Is the Languedoc suited for Pinot Noir? The few I've tried were pretty poor, so I assume it's just too hot for PN. But maybe parts of the Languedoc are appropriate for it, although the alcohol level gives me pause.

  2. Bob - the nearest to Burgundian Pinot Noir in the Languedoc I know is made around Bedarieux (Domaine Clovallon) a few Kms north of Faugeres. It's definitely a cooler and cloudier area with more Haut Languedoc than Mediterranean influence.
    That said, I basically agree with you Bob - what's the point. From Juliet's notes the only connection with Pinot Noir for me is "rose aromas". On the other hand, the historic varietals sound interesting. Daumas Gassac made some some fun (and very cheap) Aramon in the 1990s.

  3. Pinot is such a tricky grape and the Languedoc isn't really suited to it. Pierre Cros version is good but nothing like Burgundy. But does it have to be? You're right Graham, Clovallon's PN is good and she's built up quite a reputation for it.
    Talking of historic varietals, I recently came across a bottle of Clos Centeilles white, a blend of Riveiranc blanc, Riveiranc Gris, Araignan blanc and Grenache Gris.Old Languedoc varieties championed by this interesting domaine near Siran in the Minervois. I liked it. Very interesting. Slight oxidative nose (typical of many trad Languedoc whites), slightly floral with rich, minerally palate and a long finish. See episode 41 when it is tasted by George Garcia, head sommelier at Hotel de la Cité in Carcassonne.

  4. For the Pinots look out for the single estate wines out of Limoux,as the climate is different so near the Pyrenees.

    Pierre Cros is a lovely bloke, some of his other wines are well worth a mention. The Vielles Vignes is 100% Carignan and delicious at under €10. His Les Aspres is nearly 100% Syrah and absolutely awesome, try and get him to sell you the bottles with the wrong ´etiquette´at €15 instead of €20.

    Oh, and the rosé was delicious too. His whites were not to my tastes but I prefer (from the Languedoc) something like the Domaine le Fort Cuvée Blanche, or the Anne de Joyueuse Chardonnay from Limoux.

  5. I'm an Australian wine writer who fell in love with Pierre Cros's Vielle Vignes after drinking it at Juveniles in Paris, and then in lots of other places. I visited Badens with Rick Stein for his French canal Odyssey and tasted Pierre's pinot from barrel. I did explain to him that I was sceptical about pinot from the Langeudoc. But I think it's a pretty impressive red, not like Burgundy of course, but surprisingly good.

    The Pierre Cros Minervois Vielle Vignes remains one of my favourite reds. I'm looking forward to visiting Pierre Cros next month.

    Peter Forrestal

  6. Pierre Cros is a good friend of ours and an exciting wine producer. Having noticed that a few people would be interested in trying his wines but have no avenue of access we thought we could give you the opportunity as we have been selling his wines in the UK for 15 years now.

    We thoroughly recommend visiting him if you are ever in the area, however until then you can see his range wines at

    He is the king of concentration, which is often reflected in the structure of his wines and never produces a disappointing vintage.

  7. Hello
    Visited Pierre Cros in Badens in September.
    Would not recommend you go.
    He's a right miserable sod.

    Blue Skies

  8. Hi Blue Skies !
    Did'nt you make any mystake about one of the best wine of our country ?
    Did you taste " Les Aspres " ?
    Do you know what is wine ?
    I' doubting.....;

  9. I think visiting any growers / winemakers in September will result to bad experiences. Those people are artists. They are f... busy a this period of the year.

  10. Fair point Julien HK. Mid Sept is not a good time to go tasting unless a domaine is large enough to half full time front of house staff. I was at Pierre Cros on 29 Feb, a much calmer time, for International Carignan Day! and we was supremely welcoming. Put on a great tasting of 12 vintages of his old vine carignan. I will report on it here soon - a good opportunity to reawaken my dormant blog.

  11. Just drank his 2010 'Tradition' - lovely Rosé.