I spent a week in the Languedoc on a sort of busman’s holiday visiting some of our, and Riverford Organic Vegetable’s, suppliers.
Three wineries owned and run by English might not seem particularly ambitious but they were all different, doing great things and, strangely enough, were easy to talk to. James at Domaine Begude was in the middle of his harvest. He makes the best value Pinot Noir and Chardonnay around. His top end Etoille (Chardonnay) and Esprit (Pinot) will be in the shops at Christmas to complement his other wines.
A little east, in Minervois, Bertie Eden was holding fire at Chateau Maris until his grapes had reached perfect biodynamic ripeness before working his magic in his new hemp and molasses brick winery. Have a look at www.chateaumaris.com for more on Bertie’s wines, winery and ethos. There was hardly a piece of stainless steel in sight and they’re big on unlined concrete tanks and oak (old and new) for fermentation and aging. Maris La Touge Syrah will be in the shops soon with more to follow.
Best, and last, was Mas Gabriel just off the oyster infested Etang de Thau. Tiny by comparison, Peter and Deborah Core make a couple of reds, a couple of whites and a rose on their five hectares.
Winemaking takes place in the cellar under the house and it’s pretty basic to say the least. But what they lack in equipment they make up in knowledge, enthusiasm and attention to detail and the wines speak for themselves – or they will after you’ve had a few glasses.
Sadly not cheap, the reds (Syrah based Clos des Lièvres and Carignan Les Trois Terrasses) are in the shops now. Once the exchange rate settles down, we’ll look at getting the price down a bit.
That’s about it for now. Christmas is coming so we’re busy making our annual 200,000 mince pies. They’ll be in the shops soon and I can vouch are as good as ever.