Blending mostly happens at bigger enterprises; Cooperatives and Negociants. They are not open on weekends. This is the time to visit our growers and assess the new vintage. Saturday we left Spain for Narbonne, geographic and cultural center of vinous Languedoc.
Domaine Malavieille – The Gray Pioneers
The first stop was Domaine Malavieille, a wonderfully strange property almost on the shores of the equally strange Lac de Salagou. The Bertrand family has owned this for 150 years. Mireille and Andre Bertrand are in their young mid-sixties. They went organic 20 years ago, biodynamic 10 years ago and have been planting wonderfully strange varietals all along. Who else grows Petit Manseng in Languedoc?
They have over 100 acres and make a wide range of wines. No varietals are bottled as the goal is to express terroir. Appellations range from Vin de Pays (clumsily being renamed ‘Indication Geographique Protegee’) to the new Languedoc Grand Cru ‘Terrasses de Larzac’. We mostly work with VdP, competitively priced and an easier sell than non-varietal, little-known Appellations.
Rose has been a consistent winner. Here’s my note on the 2011, to be bottled in March:
-Medium salmon color. Very spicy strawberry and red cherry aromas with a tiny hint of banana. Ripe and round palate with intense strawberry fruit. The fat palate segues into a lean, bright and very long finish. True to their belief in terroir, the blend is:
5% Cabernet Sauvignon
I think that adds up to 100%?
Chateau de Lancyre – the best wine Estate in Languedoc
Quite a claim! Let me be clear: Chateau de Lancyre does not make the best wines in Languedoc. But the tiny number of growers who make better wine do so at much higher prices, in much smaller quantities. For quality, availability, consistency and value, nobody matches Lancyre.
Here’s the note on the just-bottled 2011 Rose:
-Beautiful pink salmon color. Very intense aromas of red cherry, watermelon and sage. Richer than usual with fine balance and excellent piquant fruit, with strawberry, watermelon and white peach. Ripe with great vivacity and a long finish.
We tasted 2011 Roussanne, a brilliant wine whose aromas are still closed but whose flavors feature crisp bosc pear and honeysuckle in a dry, zingy format. This does not merely age, but improves for a long time in bottle. We also tasted tank samples of 2011 La Coste d’Aleyrac and 2011 Vieilles Vignes as well as the just-bottled 2010 La Coste d’Aleyrac. 2010 is a big vintage with exceptional density and an ocean-liner (more than a boat)-load of extremely ripe tannins. It is a great vintage for Lancyre that will need time. The 2011s will be crowd-pleasers from the day of release, not as massive as the 2010s but with plenty of body in a round, ripe format.
Regis invited us back to his house for dinner, where his wife Christelle (also a winemaker) had prepared a Baron of Lamb and treated us to more foie gras (sometimes I feel more like the duck being stuffed than the human consumer).
Regis showed off some Lancyres with age. The 2005 Roussanne is probably at peak, but in no danger of going downhill, with a luscious texture and a bracing finish. The 2001 Vieilles Vignes is hitting peak, fresh and vigorous but with full secondary aromas and flavors. The 1994 Vieilles Vignes was a real treat. It is moving into tertiary flavors. Still identifiable as southern Syrah, notes of earth and dead leaves are starting to show.