Our Friends From The North.
Changeable, unsettled weather protracted this year’s harvest in Languedoc and some wineries had been reluctant to host even small tours let alone a group of 25 Danes! However, we are ever resourceful and in September we hosted Vin Club Grand Cru for a two day tour taking in Malepère, Limoux, and the Corbières.
Our convoy of 4 vehicles driven by myself, Kate, Didier and Roy wound its way to our first stop which was at Domaine Gayda. With the help of several members of the Danish party who spoke great English and Veronica who runs the tasting room at Gayda the entire party enjoyed a guided tour through the vines, the winery and the cellar room. Having worked up a thirst we assembled the group for a tasting of 6 of Gayda’s wines. The tasting was led by Tim Ford, Gayda’s MD and included two of my favorites. Chemin du Moscou is the top red of the domaine and named after their address. It is a deep, brooding Syrah accompanied by some Grenache and a tiny bit of Cinsault and I think the 2010 is the best vintage yet. It has tremendous freshness which helps belie the body of this wine. My second favorite is the sweet Chenin Blanc made from botrytis affected grapes. Its balance is excellent and the flavours of honey, caramelized pears and apricots make it a perfect match for blue cheese. I need to stock up as they have not been able to make it this year due to no botrytis in the vineyard.
Lunch followed the tasting naturally taken in Domaine Gayda’s restaurant – a foie gras entree for many of the group!
After lunch, we moved on to Limoux, home of Blanquette and to the fabulously equipped tasting room of Sieur d’Arques. There aren’t many venues capable of hosting a group of 25 and remaining open to the public but Sieur d’Arques managed it seamlessly. Having travelled by air, and therefore were unable to transport wine home, our clients purchased what they felt they could consume that evening and we delivered them back to their hotel.
Day two and the Corbières. Our first appointment was in the Boutenac terroir at Château Ollieux Romanis. Aside from the historical charm of the property, Château Ollieux Romanis has a number of donkeys including a baby which was barely two weeks old and they all seemed to want to join our party much to the amusement of our Danish friends!
We enjoyed a tour of the winery and a walk in the vines before joining Carlos who had arranged a wonderful setting for our tasting and our lunch. The gardens at the Domaine have beautiful, uninterrupted views of the Corbières and despite a slightly chilly day the al fresco tasting and sit down picnic were a huge success. The food was delicious and was accompanied by a range of the Château’s Corbières wines including my favorite Atal Sia. The name in Occitan means ‘let it be’ and isn’t a nod to The Beatles but refers to the wine being grown and made with little intervention. The purity of the fruit and the minerality of the Boutenac terroir shines through unhindered by oak or clever assemblage. In fact the grapes are all fermented together in the same vat. The wines and food were delicious and at the end of the lunch the entire party burst into song, appropriately enough a folk tale about donkeys and grapes and how they really ought to drink water instead… you couldn’t make it up!
Our last stop on this tour was to a great friend, the completely inspirational Veronique Robin Cuculiere of Domaine Mingraut. Having finished harvesting Grenache a scant 20 minutes before our arrival, Veronique had set up a table and chairs outside for our group. Before embarking on a tasting of her finished wines in bottle she took the entire party into the winery where she had them all tasting from barrel! It was very interesting to taste the partly fermented wines and see and hear the juice transforming into wine in her cellar. We emerged from the depths of the winery, blinking into the sunshine, which had finally arrived, our clients sat around the table and sampled Veronique’s wonderful wines. Relaxed, happy, and chatting amongst themselves our Danish friends gave us a toast… Skol!