Boutenac : balance in the Languedoc

The Languedoc was known for a long time as the wine lake of France. The region was the main source of very simple wine, often Vin de France. Luckily, things have changed considerably. Winemakers have become aware of the fact that quality is important if they want to gain respect and sell their wines at a higher price. The evolution in the Languedoc to a tiered system with the AOC Languedoc as the basis, with communal AOCs in the middle and Crus at the top of the pyramid, is one of the things that shows how the region is focusing more and more on quality. Things are changing at a fast pace : Terrasses du Larzac was promoted to cru status in 2014, so was La Clape in 2015, and Pic St Loup was the latest to join in 2017. Earlier sub-regions to have become Languedoc crus were Roquebrun and Berlou (Saint-Chinian), La Livinière (Minervois) and Boutenac (Corbières).

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Continue reading “Boutenac : balance in the Languedoc”

If it makes you happy… #Winophiles

…it must be Sud-Ouest! There are two reasons why I love Sud-Ouest, and why their wines do make me happy. First of all, if you’re a bit of a winegeek like me, you will feel very much like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory if you see the multitude of indigenous grapes that the Sud-Ouest has. Fer Servadou, braucol, duras, abouriou, gros manseng, petit courbu, you name it! Sometimes you will find that there’s a good reason why such grapes never  achieve stardom, and that’s simply because they do not produce very interesting wines… That, however, is not the case in the Sud-Ouest. I already wrote here about a hidden gem in Gaillac, made of braucol and duras. And I strongly recommend you to try out this food wine pairing. The reason why you will not find many of these wines in your typical wine shop is simply because there’s not alot being made. Take an appellation such as Marcillac. I once enjoyed a great Marcillac from Lionel Osmin. But all in all they only have 185 hectares of vineyard. Compare that to the 117.000 hectares of vineyard in the whole of Bordeaux and you’ll be able to put things in perspective. Continue reading “If it makes you happy… #Winophiles”

Hidden gems in Gaillac

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One of the things I want to write about on this blog are grapes or wine regions that are not well known, but that sometimes harbour hidden gems. Well, here is one of those : Domaine de Brousse. They are based in Gaillac, a French region that is still not very well known. And yet, you can find almost every style of wine here : dry white, rosé and red, with every year also “nouveaux” wines (as in Beaujolais), semi-sparkling wine (“perlé”), sparkling wine “méthode ancestrale” (interrupted fermentation), and sweet white wine. That doesn’t make it any easier to market your wines, of course. Things get even more confusing if you look at the bigger picture : Gaillac is one of many appellations of France’s South-West, where there are many different grapes, resulting in very different styles of wine. And in fact, Gaillac is closer to the Mediterranean than the Atlantic. So much for being part of the South-West… But don’t let that put you off. As I’ve experienced myself, those who dare venture into something new will be rewarded!

I’ve discovered Domaine de Brousse at the wine fair of independent vignerons in Lille, France. I was impressed by their reds. The entry level wine, Origine, is made of Braucol and Duras, two local grapes. The domaine wine is aged in wooden barrels and is made of Braucol and Syrah. Braucol is the name of the grape in Gaillac, but it is to be found in several appellations in the South-West, such as Marcillac, where it is known as Mansois, or in Béarn, under the name Pinenc. And it also known in general as Fer Servadou. Again not simple… For Duras it’s easier : Duras is Duras, and it is also a local grape that can be found in some of the appellations of the South-West. Instead of telling you what literature says about the typical aromas of these grapes, I will let the wines speak for themselves…

Origine 2014 (70% braucol and 30% duras)
Transparent red. Beautiful ripe red fruit, some herbs, very fine and elegant nose. The acidity here is just right, keeping the wine nicely fresh and well-balanced. The tannins are very mild. This wine made me think of the juiciness I often get in Crozes-Hermitages, but two fellow wine freaks with whom I tasted this wine also linked this wine with the freshness of a Cabernet Franc, the lushious fruit of a Beaujolais, or even an Italian wine, because of the acidity. For me, this shows that this wine is not easy to compare to anything else, and really has its own profile. I really like this wine because of the great drinking pleasure it gives, and… because it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. I bought this bottle for 7€ at the wine fair. This is not the wine you will find in many wine critics’ lists. Why? Because the appellation is not known, because the winery is not known, and probably also because this is not a “big” wine. And if they had reviewed it, this would have been the kind of wine that disappears in the anonymous ocean of wine scores where people don’t look if it’s not 90 or more. That’s why I find it important to say that this wine gives me great satisfaction.

Domaine de Brousse 2014 (50% braucol and 50% syrah)
on day one I had mostly cherries and a bit of wood. Not bad at all, but it had quite a modern and international feel. I was a bit disappointed actually. On day two the wood had integrated more and the ripe strawberries from the Origine started to show here as well. It’s only on day 3 (!), however, that this wine showed its full potential, displaying cherries, a bit of cassis, ripe strawberries, even minerality reminiscent of certain Beaujolais, and some herbs. Velvety mouthfeel, ripe tannins. Great length also, and the intensity of the fruit in the final is remarkable. I had almost given up, but was very happy to have one glass left of this wine on day three! I will keep my remaining bottles of this one tucked away in a dark corner for a couple of years.

So, if you have a chance to pick up one of these bottles from Domaine de Brousse, do give it a chance. You will see that it pays off to leave the beaten track behind.