Category: Tasting notes

Château de Flaugergues, Montpellier

This is a post in the Spotlight on: Languedoc-Roussillon series

Château de Flaugergues, Montpellier

Château de Flaugergues is more grand palatial home than working winery.

The first thing to welcome you on site is the courtyard with a restaurant (Folia) and wine shop. What’s really impressive is semi-concealed by the botanical garden – the Château itself.

Bamboo forest, Château de Flaugergues, Montpellier

This was a house built for the Comte de Colbert in the centuries past and was home not only to the current Comtes, Henri Comte de Colbert, but also history and treasures brought back from and for the previous Comtes.

The estate is run in a very hands on way by the Comte de Colbert and his son, who also happens to be the wine maker.

There’s generations of tradition at Château de Flaugergues but this certainly hasn’t stopped them creating an eclectic portfolio of wines.

Case in point, their Cuvée Foliae Blanc 2012 comes in an electric blue bottle and is packed with minerality. The Cuvée Sommelière Blanc 2012 was much more elegant, showing vibrant freshness and quite a bit of (confused) complexity from its blend of five grapes.

The Cuvée Les Comtes Rosé 2012 had excellent structure for a rosé, with plenty of red fruits coming through.

The Cuvée Les Comtes Rouge 2011 showed similar structure but also offered high tannins and quite a herbaceous finish. It will certainly take to ageing a little more. In contrast, the Cuvée Sommelière Rouge 2011 showed much lower tannins while retaining fresh red fruit on the nose and palate.

www.flaugergues.com

Domaine Cazes, Rivesaltes

This is a post in the Spotlight on: Languedoc-Roussillon series

Domaine Cazes is a bridge between history and modernity in many respects.

The family owned wine company can trace its history back to 1895 when they were winemakers rather than grape growers. These days Domaine Cazes manages the whole production process, employing modern theories of organic and biodynamic viti- and viniculture under the 4th generation winemaker Emmanuelle Cazes. In fact, it’s one of the largest biodynamic and organic producers of wine in France.

The core portfolio consists of red, white, rosé and dessert wines.

The white wines were noticeably higher in acidity than wines found in Languedoc. Le Canon du Maréchal Blanc 2012 was also noticeably perfumed.

The red wines were on the austere side but only because they were requiring a lot of age. Côtes du Roussillon Villages Alter de Cazes Rouge 2009 was showing development but still too herbaceous to be easy drinking.

They also make a small quantity of rosé wines. The Côtes du Roussillon Villages Ego de Cazes Rosé 2012 was a very fruity rosé with high acidity and a hint of sulphur.

Barrels, Cazes, Rivesaltes

Its most famous offering is still its sweet wines, some of which you can see concentrating in the age-old barrels sitting in the headquarters at Rivesaltes or on the wine lists of the likes of Maison Troisgros and Hotel George V’s Le Cinq.

The Rivesaltes Ambré 1999 was a lusciously bronzed caramel liquid that’s rich with raisin on the nose with a long finish of dried apricots and great balance of sugar and acidity. The Muscat de Rivesaltes 2009 was comparatively lighter in colour with hints of elderflower on the nose. The alcohol was a little off balance leading to the sensation of tasting grappa on the palate but the overall mouthfeel is good. The Cuvée Aimé Cazes Rivesaltes 1978 was a really stunning wine. Rich with caramel and Christmas fruit and rather high in alcohol at this stage, it was rather reminiscent of a whisky.

Pork, beetroot and potatoes, Cazes, Rivesaltes

The Rivesaltes headquarters is also home to their charming restaurant La Table d’Aimé, where the day’s offerings are chalked on to a blackboard and brought to the table for guests to order from. Aimé, incidentally, was the name of Cazes’ first winemaker. The food is rustic, French but with plenty of Catalan influences.

Like its counterparts in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Cazes has also expanded its portfolio to include properties elsewhere in the region, notably Clos de Paulilles. This expansion has added contrasting wines to the portfolio.

The Les Clos de Paulilles Collioure Blanc 2012 is a much more creamy and nutty white, with medium acidity with hints of citrus fruit and green apples. The Les Clos de Paulilles Collioure Rouge 2011 was much more fruity, which helped to balance the herbaceousness. The Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Traditionnel 2008, aged outside in glass bottles, had a velvety texture with deep amber colours and notes of caramel and toffee.

www.cazes-rivesaltes.com

Abbaye de Valmagne, Villeveyrac

This is a post in the Spotlight on: Languedoc-Roussillon series

Abbaye de Valmagne can trace its history all the way back to the 12th Century when it was founded under the Benedictine order before its monks joined the Cistercian movement. Like other abbeys in the region and at the time, it was through the Cistercian movement that wine arrived at the Abbaye.

Vineyard, Abbaye de Valmagne, Villeveyrac

Now a family-owned estate, the Abbaye remains a place where you can explore the religious history of wine-making through audio guides and walking tours. There are vineyards close by but even closer are the mini-plots of vines on site that showcases the grape varieties used in the abbey’s wines.

You can do a wine tasting on site but there’s also a rustic French restaurant a short stroll away.

There’s quite a selection of wines to taste through from red, white, rosé to dessert and ranges in price.

Red wine at Abbaye de Valmagne, Villeveyrac

For the whites, the most basic Cuvee Adhemar Blanc Sec, Vin de Pays des Collines de la Moure 2012 showed low acidity with a little citrus acidity while the not too dissimilar Le Secret de Frere Nonenque Blanc, Vin de Pays des Collines de la Moure 2012 was already showing some development. The best in show for the white was the Gres de Montpellier Cuvee de Turenne Blanc 2010, which while still low on the acidity, at least showed considerably more structure with much more of the stone fruit and flinty notes coming through.

Le Secret de Frere Nonenque Rose, Vin de Pays des Collines de la Moure 2012 was the only rosé I tried and it was surprisingly nice. There were lots red fruits coming through, if not at times artificial, but if properly chilled, can be quite refreshing.

The red wines were considerably better. The Le Secret de Frere Nonenque Rouge, Vin de Pays des Collines de la Moure 2012 was heavily herbaceous and could do with some age. Coteaux du Languedoc Bernard et Benoit 2011 showed really good structure and acidity with dark berry fruits. Gres de Montpellier Cuvee de Turenne 2010 was the favourite with its wonderful bouquet of berry fruits and a well rounded finish – it’s a bit obvious but sometimes that’s good. The more aged Coteaux du Languedoc Cardinal de Bonzi 2007 has managed to retain its fresh fruits with age and should go on ageing for a few more years.

The abbey’s only sweet wine, the Aragome 2008, was quite delicate, not too cloying, with a short and dry finish.

Overall the wines weren’t as sophisticated as you might hope and there’s definitely room for improvement. They were available in the UK more than a decade ago but now it seems tastes have moved on but the abbey’s wines haven’t quite caught up yet. At least, not for the white wines. But then perhaps it’s really the history side that you’d go to see.

www.valmagne.com

Abbaye de Fontfroide, Narbonne

This is a post in the Spotlight on: Languedoc-Roussillon series

The Abbaye de Fontfroid is an abbey near Narbonne that can trace its roots back to the Cistercian order. It was during the Cistercian period that the abbey started its wine making journey.

Now wine is only a small part of the family owned but foundation run estate, with around 80,000 bottles produced per year.

Instead, tourism has taken over as the main source of income. These days, you’re more likely to be at the Abbaye de Fontfroide for concerts and art exhibitions than for wine. In fact, for a while, the abbey operated as a sort of artists’ retreat as its then owner was very much into the arts.

You can still taste a selection of wines in its boutique or at its restaurant though, where there are 12 wines to choose from.

The Ocellus Blanc 2012 was a little off balance with noticeably high alcohol but only a little citrus fruit and minerality coming to its rescue. The Deo Gratias Rouge 2o10 was much more palatable with vibrant red fruits coming through though it could be a little more elegant.

www.fontfroide.com

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