Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 - Holiday TWITs Languedoc Wines - hosted by Mr. Matt and Ms. Abbie

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 - Holiday TWITs Party featuring: Languedoc Wines
hosted by Mr. Matt and Ms. Abbie

Languedoc is a region in Southern France known for some delicious wines!  Considered France's "best value" wine region, and the winemakers there are known for innovative qualities.  The name of the region comes from the language of Occitan (Ox-see-tan). Oc is Occitan for "yes".  The Langue d'Oc (language of Oc).  It is often called "Languedoc-Roussillon" also.

The first appelation in Languedoc was Fitou.  Later in 1985 came Corbieres, Minervois, Coteaux du Languedoc, etc.

Main grape varietals found in Languedoc: Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut (red); Maccabéo, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Picpoul, Clairette (white).

Random trivia #1 that Ms Abbie wanted to mention:  One of my favorite movies is Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte Des Loups) which is based on the Legend of the Beast of Gevaudan.  Gevaudan would have been located in what is now the Languedoc region.  (The gouvernement of Languedoc was created in the middle of the 16th century. In addition to Languedoc proper, it also included the three small provinces of GévaudanVelay, and Vivarais (in its entirety), these three provinces being to the northeast of Languedoc.)

Random trivia #2 that Ms Abbie wanted to mention:  The Languedoc region actually helped to introduce us to Le Caveau.  Our first visit to the shop, I was looking to find a French wine that I had tried at The Sound Table restaurant.  It was a Domaine de Nizas Coteaux du Languedoc wine, I do not remember the vintage.  Eric, the owner of Le Caveau, did not have the particular wine I was looking for, but he had a similar wine from the same appellation, it was a Chateau de Lancyre Pic St Loup.  Thus, I bought my very first bottle from Le Caveau Fine Wines.  'Twas the beginning of a very long and, shall I say, prosperous wine-lationship.

TWITs need to bring:   $20/person cash or check to cover the cost of the wines.  The wines will be provided for you, similar to the Bordeaux tasting we did a few months ago.

Map of Languedoc, provided by

The Languedoc-Roussillon area is home to numerous grape varieties, including many international varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc, and Chardonnay. The traditional Rhône grapes of Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier are also prominent.
Chardonnay is a major white grape, used in the Vin de Pays d'Oc and the sparkling Crémant de Limoux. Others include Chenin blanc and Mauzac, which is also the principal grape in the sparkling Blanquette de Limoux. The sweet fortified wines of the Muscat de Frontignan and Muscat de St-Jean Minervois regions are made with the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains grapes. In the Muscat de Rivesaltes AOC, fortified wines are made from Muscat of Alexandria grapes.
Among the reds, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvedre are major grapes of the Corbières, Faugères, Fitou, and Minervois AOCs. Cinsault is also commonly used in rosé production along with Lladoner Pelut, Picpoul noir, Terret noir, and Grenache. Grenache is also the main grape used in the fortified wines of the Banyuls and Rivesaltes region. Some of the oldest vines in France are Carignan grapes. Winemakers often use carbonic maceration to soften the tannins.
Other varieties that can be found include Roussanne, Marsanne, Vermentino, Bourboulenc, Clairette blanche, Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Picpoul, Maccabéo, and Rolle.

Tasting Notes:
1) 2012 Chateau La Tour de Beraud, Costieres de Nimes Blanc
$13.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine
13.5% alcohol Varietals: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne
Tasting Notes: Its flavors are equally juicy (yellow plum) and floral (honeysuckle). It develops lively mineral notes in mouth along with litchi, rose and grapefruit flavours. Best served at 9° with seafood and fish. A perfect companion to red mullet with olive oil.
History of the Chateau:  Tour de Béraud is named after the old fire tower from XIth century built in order to prevent invasions from the sea (Aigues Mortes).
This tower is located on the southern slopes of the plateau.  Owners:  Francois & Anne Collard.  The estate lies in the historically important area between Nîmes, Arles and Avignon. The vineyards are planted on terraced slopes, with clay and pebble soils which were deposited in the area as glaciers moved through the continent during the quaternary period. This specific terroir gives freshness and balance to the wines whilst the sunny climate of the Languedoc ripens the grapes to perfection. Traditional ageing in tanks preserves the natural fruitiness and fine, pure length.

2) 2011 Domaine D’Auphilac “Lou Maset” Coteaux du Languedoc - Montpeyroux
$15.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine - from Kermit Lynch
12.5% alcohol Varietals:  30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 10% Syrah, 10% Alicante Bouschet, 10% Aramon
Tasting Notes: 2011 Lou Maset is a mouth-wateringly fresh, fruity wine; great as an every day drink. Blended mostly from Grenache and Cinsault. Good length with silky tannins in the mouth, it finishes spicy. Thoroughly seductive.
Information:  Traditional vintification in stanless steel lasts for 10-15 days, then ages for 6 months in barrel.  “Lou Maset” roughly signify “Le petit Mas”(or "small Mas" in English), the “Mas” being the traditional name of the old countryside houses scattered in the landscape of Languedoc and Provence.
Three generations of Fadats have farmed the large, eighteen-hectare lieu-dit known as Aupilhac, in the village of Montpeyroux, across the river Hérault from Daumas Gassac and Grange des Pères. While the Fadats have farmed this land since the nineteenth century, and the vineyards date even farther back to the time of the Romans, it was not until 1989 that the current member of the Fadat family, Sylvain Fadat, finally registered the domaine as a vigneron indépendant.  Aupilhac is a special parcel for many reasons. It sits at a high altitude, nestled below the ruins of the village’s château, at almost 1200 feet above sea level on terraced land with southwest sun exposure. The soils are rich in prehistoric oyster fossils, which lend an incredible length and minerality to the wines. Sylvain is not one to shy away from hard work. In a volcanic amphitheatre comprised of marine fossils and raw limestone, called Cocalières, he has done what few vignerons dare to do nowadays: he’s planted a vineyard on steep, extremely rocky terrain, and terraced the land himself. This is not only an enormous financial investment, but back-breaking work. This was the work done many centuries ago by the founders of France’s great terroirs such as Savennières and Cornas, planting the best and most promising parcels irrespective of time and money.
Sylvain has also elected to have his fruit certified as organic in Europe, a mandatory three-year conversion process. For him, this is a choice both of conscience and pragmatism. He works the soil vigorously by plowing regularly. This forces the roots to dig deeper and deeper in the soil in search of cooler, humid subsoil, which protects the vines from drought and sun. Ultimately, his rationale centers on helping achieve a natural balance. In his words, “We believe that work in the vineyards has far more influence on a wine's quality than what we do in the cellar.”  What happens in the cellars is equally compelling. Domaine d’Aupilhac’s wines find a terrific balance of ripe fruit and silky tannins, power and grace. When aged, these wines achieve a complexity rarely found in wines sold for many times the price, while their wildness and intensity makes them equally appealing young.

3) 2010 Domaine Olivier Pithon “Mon P’tit Pithon Rouge”, VDP des Cotes Catalanes
$ 19.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine – from Integrity Wines
13 % alcohol Varietals:  90% Grenache Noir, 10$ Syrah
Tasting Notes:  The simple pleasures of the life, to enjoy good food, to drink, to laugh summarize this P’tit Pithon.  A fruity wine, nicely rounded, and a lot of fun. Ruby color, fruity nose, nice round palate, open 1 hour before serving.
Information:  This exciting 9-hectare domaine is situated adjacent to the great Domaine Gauby in the village of Calce in the Roussillon region of the Languedoc. Olivier Pithon is originally from a wine making family from Anjou in the Loire and after spending some time in Bordeaux decided to settle in Calce in 2000 after being introduced to Gerard Gauby by his brother, Jo, a wine maker from Layon. The vines are grown strictly according to biodynamic principles and they are superb – elegant, complex reds; delicate, floral whites.
Olivier has one main driving force for his work. “I’ve had only one desire: to give everything to my vines so that then they give it back in their grapes and in my wine. You must be proud and put your guts, your sweat, your love, your desires, your joy and your dreams into your wine.” This is the spirit along with the unique terroir of Domain Olivier Pithon that give his wines their quality and uniqueness.  The Soil: Schist, Marl, Calcerous-Clay; White Grape Varieties: Maccabéo, Grey and White Grenache; Red Grape Varieties: Carignan, Black Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre.   The climate is Mediterranean, with hot dry summers, rainy winters, and moderate springs and autumns. With influence from the Tramontane wind, the local, gentler version of the Mistral blows from the north-west. It is dry, cold and often violent, carrying air from polar regions. In summer it brings clear blue skies and relief from the heat. In winter it just brings cold air.  Certified Organic by AB in 2002 and certified biodynamic by Biodyvin in 2010, Olivier is passionate about respect for the land. His commitment to the living farm is evident in everything he does in the vineyard and in the cellar.

4) 2009 Mont Tauch Domaine St. Roch, Fitou
$19.99 @ Winestyles in Baldwin Park, Orlando Florida
13.5% alcohol Varietals: 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 20% Syrah
Tasting Notes: Harvested manually, this terroir produces a wine full of character full bodied with powerful tannins.  The ageing confers a plentitude which expresses delicate aromas of vanilla and small red berries with light notes of venison and wood.  A wine that is well mastered.  complex and a bit earthy, with notes of bright red fruit and good acidity. “A gentle yet complex blend that offers ripe red and blue berry notes with hints of smoke.  Soft tannins, easy to drink.  This Fitou is the ideal accompaniment of roasted or grilled meats, dishes in sauce, and strong cheeses.” – Michel Marty, winemaker.
Information:  Set in the Languedoc’s dramatic landscape of picturesque hills and Cathar castles, Mont Tauch is one of France’s leading cooperatives, based in the heart of the Fitou appellation in Southern France.  Fitou was the first red wine in Languedoc to be recognized as a wine of quality and obtain AOC status in 1948.  Located in the foothills of Corbieres, these hillsides are the perfect setting for Carignan and Grenache, which have been grown with sustainable methods for the past ten years.  Vinification:  traditional, destalking, crushing 20-25 days, ageing for 60% in barrels. 

5) 2011 Domaine La Tour Vieille Puig Ambeille Collioure
$26.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine – from Kermit Lynch
14.5% alcohol Varietals:  70% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache
Tasting Notes:  The grapes undergo pump-overs and all punch-downs are by foot. Wine is bottled 10 to 18 months after fermentation.  This is a wine with rich aromas of ripe fruit and spices. The palate is powerful and enveloping structure with silky tannins. We can serve this wine with red or pink meat such as veal or the Catalan Pyrenees lamb.
Information:  The vibrant little seaport town of Collioure is nestled on the Mediterranean coast, just north of the Spanish border, in the area known as French Catalonia. In 1981, Vincent Cantié and Christine Campadieu took over two small, family-owned domaines where they had grown up, in Collioure and Banyuls, respectively. Together, they farm vineyards planted on steep, schist terraces overlooking the sea, where they are constantly exposed to the fierce and wily wind known as “La Tramontagne.” This constant wind not only ensures naturally low yields, but also keeps the grapes free of mildew with little need for pesticides or copper sulfate. Their vineyards are so steep that cultivation must be by hand, and extensive irrigation canals and walls (all made from the schist rock) are their only prevention against soil erosion, although there is almost no soil left to recede! These canals snake down the hillsides, separating the parcels. At harvest, the grapes are carried up and down the mountain in baskets. This method of farming, while extremely challenging, preserves the traditions of their ancestors. Such ideals have inspired two documentaries, Wine From the Heart by Yasha Aginsky (2002), and a short film sponsored by Project NOÉ for the defense of the European viticultural heritage.  Though the majority of the Tour Vieille holdings are planted with Grenache Noir, they also work with Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo, Syrah, and Carignan. They have several single vineyard bottlings of Collioure, and several cuvées of Banyuls, from Christine’s family’s holdings. Banyuls, neighbor of Collioure, sits only two kilometers from the Spanish border; it is famous for its fortified wines. Tour Vieille also produces a wide range of practically extinct late harvest and extended elevage white and red wines, the ultimate meditation wines at the end of a meal. The heart, soul, and hard work that go into crafting these wines make their labor of love all the more delicious.

6) 2009 La Reserve d’O, Coteaux du Languedoc, Terrasses de Larzac
$22.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine
15 % alcohol Varietals:  50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Cinsault
Tasting Notes:  Opulent, with notes of dried fruits, spice and warm earth. Evolving, ripe and savory. A wine with character. Blackberry, thyme.  The nose shows rich, ripe blackberries and chestnuts with lots of sweet but not jammy fruit.  On the palate it's supple with a nice mouth-filling structure, yet elegant at the same time.
Information:  Marie Chauffray – La Reserve d’ O - At La Reserve d’O, biodynamic winemaker Marie Chauffray’s high-altitude vineyards—surrounded by the garrigue (shrubby bush land) overlooking the Herault Valley in the Terrasses du Larzac AOC —are a virtual nature reserve with big blue lizards, snakes, scorpions and all sorts of other creatures. She planted blackberry bushes and thyme, and her red blends (made from syrah, grenache and cinsault) reflect the flavors of the terroir.  After 10 years of searching for her own vineyards, Marie Chauffray, with her husband Frederic found their unique property and have dedicated themselves to biodynamic viticulture. The 10 ha estate is certified organic (Ecocert) and biodynamic (Demeter). The vineyard is situated 400 m above sea level, is located on terraces of limestone pebbles, on very dry soils and high winds with vine 30+ years of age. Being imported for the first time into the US, Maria won a Silver Medal at Millesime Bio 2010 for the La Reserve d’ O.  The grapes are picked by hand early in the morning to preserve their freshness and flavor. They are then transferred by gravity into stainless steel tanks. Fermentation takes place with natural yeast, and some pumping (pigeages) to extract the soft color and tannins. After four weeks of soaking, the grapes are gently pressed. They use a minimum of sulfur ‘only at bottling’, no enzymes or other additives, natural yeasts and don’t filter or fine. The wines of Marie and Frederic are intense and expressive wines, full bodied and full of personality. Powerful yet elegant.

7) 2010 Chateau Bousquette Mas de Huppes, Saint Chinian
$ 14.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine – from Integrity Wines
13.5% alcohol Varietals:  60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre 
Tasting Notes:  Nice dark red with dark hints, fragrance of black currant very ripe, coffee, liquorice and bay. In the mouth the wine is balanced and fleshy, finishing with spicy notes on fine tannins. Open half an hour before drinking.  This wine will pair with grilled, roasted or braised red meat, game. Enjoy with Barbeque in the spring and braised lamb shank in the winter.
Information:  Until 1789 (the onset of the French Revolution) the Domaine of Bousquette belonged to the Abbey of Fontcaude. After the Revolution and the expropriation of the Church properties it was then acquired by Sieur Moustelou of Cessenon.  He was the first of a long succession of wine-makers. The family Fabre-Ginoulhac owned the property until 1996; but already in 1972 they began to follow the principles of the “Nature and Progress” approach to vine cultivation. Since then the Domaine has been certified organic by Ecocert.  In 1996, Eric and Isabelle Perret, a Swiss couple, fell in love with the area and the vineyard and purchased it. They too were totally convinced of the great value of “biological” farming and since they took over Chateau Bousquette, they have continually restructured and improved all aspects of the property – always aiming at producing even better biologically grown wines.
The Bousquette Philosophy is simple: “Let the Earth bring forth the best it can give, without artificial stimulation, while respecting Nature and the health and well-being of those who consume her. Get the help of the light, the warmth of the sun and the stimulation of the wind to produce healthy grapes and wines which give both well-being and great pleasure.”
Producing Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault on clay, limestone soils, the vineyards of Chateau Bousquette are situated on the flanks of a valley, above the Orb river and the town of Cessenon, 15 km north/west of the City of Beziers in the South of France, Saint-Chinian AOC. The family’s 25 hectares of vines are surrounded by the “Garrigue” wilderness, which greatly helps to keep the vines within the norms of biological cultivation. The vineyards are located between 100 and 150 m above sea level and the vines are pruned according to traditional methods (called “en cordon de Royat”) and Guyot.  The average age of the wines 30-35 years. Grape harvesting by hand and by machine. The Perrets use traditional minimalist vinification methods with careful temperature control.

8) 2010 Chateau d’Oupia Minervois
$13.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine – from Louis Dressner
13% alcohol Varietals: 50% Carignan, 40% Syrah, 10% Grenache
Tasting Notes:  Red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berries and damp leaves. Pleasantly tart flavours of cranberry, red currant and blackberry comprised the light to medium body, whilst pink peppercorn and traces of warm summer earth lingered between each sip. Straightforward and easy drinking, this is a fantastic value and a pleasant companion at the table.
Information:  Vibrant, rustic, charming, with an elegant undercurrent, I adore Languedoc wines. Minervois is an appellation in the western region of the Languedoc; archaeological evidence shows that winemaking in the area dates back to pre-Roman times. Today the appellation is seeing an increase in quality and is garnering worldwide praise for their expressive wines. In 1860 the Iché family purchased Château d’Oupia, which had been established since the 12th century. In 1969 André Iché renovated the vineyards and cellar, he was one of the first winemakers in the Languedoc to break away from the local co-op and bottle his own wine. He focused on quality over quantity and played a significant role in propelling the region forward from being known for bulk wines to terroir driven bottles filled with distinct character. After his death in 2007, his daughter Marie-Pierre runs the estate in the same tradition as her father, crafting down to earth “honest wine that tastes of place”. The Minervois was sourced from old vine vineyards 50+ years in age.
*Notes from “”

9) 2010 Zelige-Caravent “Velvet” Coteaux du Languedoc-Pic St Loup
$34.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wine
14 % alcohol Varietals:  100% Syrah,
Tasting Notes:  Gobs of dark berry fruit and black olives on the palate. Opens with an unusual velvety nose. Soft palate but not heavy or greasy, enhanced by a fine bitterness and nice finish.  Decant 1 hour before service to 17-18 ° C. Powerful and elegant red.
Information:  After a career in graphic arts with a printing company that specializes in the structures and in the communication-labels are also super-Luc Michel took over 3 ha grandfather Jules on the land of Gravettes Corconne in Pic St Loup. This land is specific to Corconne and constitutes angular gravel from gelifraction by Jurassic limestone (cliff Massif Coutach) during glacial periods. These limestone chips were colluvionnés as an alluvial fan. The silty clay and red earth of a variable depth of 80 cm to more than 5 meters determines the usable water reserves. This is an extremely conducive to grape ripening quality terroir. Low useful water reserve and deep rooting of the vines allows a very small but steady supply of the plant. Luc and  Marie Michel of Zélige-Caravent began in 1999 with three hectare of vines in Chemin de la Gravette  a small village in the Languedoc, at the foot of the Cèvennes. Today the domaine comprises 15 hectare, made up of 25 different plots, and offers a wide range of different grape varieties native to the Languedoc: Aramon, Alicante, Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah. Old olive trees, dry stone walls and woods surround the old vines, which are planted with a density of 8000 vines/hectare. The deep, poor soil consists of limestone that has been fragmented into tiny pieces over the years.  In the vineyard, all vines are pruned by hand, the rows are tilled by horse and all treatments are organic. In the cellar, only indigenous yeasts are used, manual pressing and no treatments other than sulfur at a level lower or equal to 30mg/liter at bottling. The assemblage of each wine changes every year. The estate is now certified biodynamic by Demeter.
Zelige = Moroccan ceramic tile
Caravent = Caravanserai - a roadside inn along the silk/spice route