Recent posts

A taste of the sweet life

Wine in the Minervois - Domaine de Jouarres

Instagram

jouarres-aquaduct

A new chapter in the Minervois wine series - a new domaine with great energy & enthusiasm in Azille's own hamlet.  Run by Nicolas & Vincent Cornus and their father, Jean: the Domaine de Jouarres.

Languedoc-Roussillon has so many wines to offer, so it is nice to see more & more young, up-and-coming wine-makers in the Minervois to really showcase our region with it's strengths & favours

 

Jean Cornus has been growing and harvesting his vineyards in Azille for years, however, all destined for the local cooperative.

domaine-jouarres-nicholas-vincent

 

 A few years ago, Nicolas & Vincent, decided they wanted to try their hand in vinification & bottling their own wine.  So, Jean gave them 25 hectares with 3 different grapes varieties to produce about 10,000 bottles - syrah for the red, cabernet-franc for the rose and chardonnay for the white.

Today, they are on their second bottling, with the 2014 ready for tasting in only a few months' time.

Confident and very passionate, the boys happily share the vinification process and offer a very informational & friendly tasting.

 

domaine-jouarres-red-rosedomaine-jouarres-whiteAll 3 wines are young, light & fresh, better for drinking in our hot summer months, here in the South of France.

The Chardonnay is a dry, fruity white, fermented slightly under the average temp's, extracting more flavor with a slower vinification. Great for a chilled aperitif, raw oysters & lightly seasoned shellfish.

The rose, a Cabernet-Franc (mostly seen only in the Anjou), has buttery flavors that pare well with grilled chicken & pork or on its own, just chilled!  The very pale color is achieved with a quick pressing & a 'debourbage', eliminating the sediment.

Another mono-cepage, the Syrah, has a red-fruit nose and tastes of jam with licorice undertones, typical of the varietal. Again, vinified a bit cooler for a lighter, fresher taste, it compliments a nice grilled steak or slightly chilled to start a meal.

 domaine-jouarres-rose

With a clever label, the bottle takes on a fun note - a very original design, it plays into the family name, in French of course.  Cornus, is pronounce the same as Corps Nu, which means nude body!

Chateau-jouarres-wine-v

During your tasting with the brothers Cornus, you will also be invited to take a walk out to the vineyards and the 17th century aquaduct, built by the Canal du Midi's architect, Pierre-Paul Riquet.  Just beyond the hamlet, the ancient water viaduct runs from the canal, across the vineyards to Homps, and still provides water for the surrounding countryside.

domain-de-jouarres-painting

Domaine de Jouarres can be visited with a wine-tasting, vineyard tour, & a very warm welcome - just a phone call away! You'll feel very much at home with the boys Cornus.

Contact La Dolce Vita directly for more information and to book your tasting soon!

Wine in the Minervois - Massiac wines

Instagram

massiac-summer-cottageRemember last week, when I introduced Chateau Massiac and its passionate & creative owner, Bernard Boudouresques?

Well, there is so much more to say about him and his wines.

With approximately 20 hectares of vineyards, Bernard has chosen to plant the Azille side with his AOC vines due to the location, and the Rieux-Minervois side is IGP (pays d’oc) where he is able to plant more of what he prefers…

 

Bernard produces only a few different bottles, so he concentrates on the quality of the vines and their fruit.

massiac-sauvignon-bottle
Massiac’s whites are expressed with single varietals sauvignon-blanc & viognier.

Her reds are created with Marselin (a crossbreed of Grenache & Cabernet where the flowers inter-marry giving a great structure for this climate), Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.

 massiac-vineyards-young

The younger vines are irrigated when water fall doesn’t get above 250mm per year, but when it hits 450mm all is good at the domaine.  Bernard's Grenache vines are still quite young…but all the vines produce well at about 4,500-5,000 hecta-liters each year.   Bernard is respectful of organic production, however, he also wants to produce great wines, so he is thoughtful of chemicals used, and experiments with keeping the vines healthy using different herbs/grasses planted between the vines to see what works the best as a natural herbicide & pesticide.

massiac-cuves-red  massiac-metal-cuves-white-bernard

Enter into the cave & the wine-making process. Bernard has an older style cement barrel system for his reds. Each being numbered according to the hectoliters it holds, so that each vineyard can be vinified on it’s own and separate to be blended afterwards. The white is vinified in low metal tanks, making it easier to blend the ‘lys’ back into the fermenting wine.

Bernard exports up to 24,000 bottles, leaving us with only a few bottles to savour, but worth the sip! As the fermented wine will remain in the cuves for slightly over a year before being bottled in spring, we are offered 2012 bottles to taste.

massiac-viognier-glassThe Viognier is a pale yellow in color with specks of gold, and at 14.8% the high alcohol content gives it a slight sweetness. With a green edge the cooked apricot & peach fruit taste comes through making it a good match to buttery dishes, creamy cheeses & seafood – 8€ a bottle purchased directly from Bernard himself.

Massiac's Sauvignon-Blanc is clean, clear & light in color at 13.5% alcohol.  Bernard's Sauvignon is similar to a Bourdeaux Sauvignon-Blanc, and with low acidity is just enough to provide a crispness to this floral white wine. A great fruit palate tasting peaches, apples & a subtle tang of passion fruit makes a great match to asian cuisine and very ripe chèvre or camembert cheese - also 8€ a bottle at the domaine.

massiac-minervois-aoc

The AOC Minervois is a deep ruby in color with 14% alcohol. Bernard’s blend on this year’s Minervois, is 80% Syrah 15% Carignan & 5% Mourvedre. A robust red with flavors of very ripe cassis, pepper & spice, with supple & ripe tannins pares well with tapenade & many local, Mediterranean dishes.

Bernard’s Sentinelle is an ‘export-only’ unfortunately, so no tasting available this year. And with passion he plays around with a late, naturally sweetened white he calls “Ambre” for aperitif & desserts as well.

 massiac-viognier-label

 

 

Wine in the Minervois - Chateau Massiac

Instagram

Here in the Minervois, we could talk about wines for years and still not touch upon them all, nor taste everything out there without falling down drunk (even if you spit) !

However, I can talk about what I know and what I've learned about those in my large neigborhood. So stay close and come visit our regional Chateaux with myself and Wendy Gedney on our local tours.massiac-vines-rainbow-domain

Close to home, literally, is Chateau Massiac. Between Azille & Rieux-Minervois – from bell tower to bell tower as Bernard Boudouresque explains it to me in his local French accent - are the limits of Domaine de Massiac sitting upon a ancient Mediterranean hill. Bernard purchased the Chateau in 1988, which was abandoned in spirit as the previous owner had all but forgotten the domaine and let it all go downhill…the vines, the basin, the equipment, the animals all in ruins.

massiac-domaine-watering-hole       massiac-relics-work-vines

Over the last 25 years with Bernard's love & passion for the domaine, its earth & its fruit, he has turned vines into fertile, well-producing plants and is bottling the wine production rather than sselling loose production wine to large, local wineries.

He has come to understand the soil and all it’s properties using nature to his advantage. Bernard-Boudouresques

 

The soil is full of grés, a clay-limestone, which when the vines’ roots hit they spread outwards instead of growing deeper. This creates many challenges for a typical vineyard, at the same time there are also many advantages. The grés in Massiac’s land is not as hard as some and allows the soil to drain well, avoiding too much water around the roots. On the other hand, the vines are not as stable with the strong winds we have in the area, so they must be cut in a non-traditional fashion so that tying them to the wires allows the wind to flow easily through the rows, not taking them out of the ground.massiac-hand-gobalet-vines

 

 

 

The traditional goblet style of the vine has been turned into a 7 fingered open-hand with Bernard’s creative touch.

The hill where the grapes grow is also an advantage as the wind flows easily through the vines to keep them from becoming humid & the sun warms them during the day producing tastier and more aromatic grapes.

 

Next week I'll explain Bernard & Massiac's wine and vinification process with tastings detailed out to entice you to explore the domaine yourself - TO BE CONTINUED...a bientot!

massiac-viognier-label

Hand-Picking Old Vineyard Carignan in Languedoc

Instagram

carignan-beautidul-bunch

In the Minervois, within the region of the Languedoc-Roussillon, old vineyards get hand-harvested.  As modern day tools and machines have taken over most of the harvesting these days in the newer vineyards, the older vines are still hand-harvested as they were planted much closer together and new tractors literally won't fit between them.

 

So, as a group of friends and family we get together and help out, a fun day lasting from morning to later afternoon !

 

A few weeks ago, on a beautiful and sunny morning, 8am to be exact, we all met up at the vineyard's family home.  We were offered breakfast of dry sausages, baguettes, wine, blood sausage, juice and coffee amoung other delicious morsels to fuel our day.hand-harvest-crew

 

We went off to the vineyard, were given buckets and clippers, a few instructions and off we went down the rows snip...snip...snip...

hand-harvest-carignan-3

  cutting-old-carignan-grapes

 ...Into buckets, then into bigger buckets on the backs of a few grape "mules" the bunches went. Eventually we picked the vines clean being left only with sticky, purple hands...hand-harvest-mule-dump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...Apertif followed the final dump, then a lunch fit for hungry harvesters ensued and we imbibed in last year's harvest to celebrate. Thanks to our hosts for a great day !

harvest-lunch-1

 

Minervois Machine Harvest of Carignan

Instagram

The grape harvest is almost complete here in the Minervois wine region of the Languedoc-Roussillon and I got to witness, and even help with this vineyard's machine harvest. This method tends to be the most common for most of the varietals in the region, especially for the newer vines, as they are spaced machine distance apart when planted.azille-church-carignan-vineyards-harvestingThese Carignan grape vines near the bridge on the way out of Azille are being harvest this way, in a 1/2 hectare field!

azille-harvest-machine-carignan-endazille-and-machine-harvest-carignan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The expert vignerons (Parra et al) tell me that it takes about 2 hours a hectare to remove all the grapes with this giant shaking machine. 2 large snake-like metal hands moving rapidly together while gliding down the vines, knocking the grapes into bins hanging from either side.harvest-machine-sorting-carignanmachine-harvest-dump-bin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the bins are dumped into the awaiting tractor trailer to be wisked off to the local cooperative and turned into the lovely glass of wine we enjoy!

vendange-machine-azille

 

 

 

 

harvest-machine-me-driving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here I am taking my turn at driving, 6 rows at a time before dumping the bins; being careful not to cause the green alarm lights to scream brightly at me...but no worries if they do, as I need only to tweek the stearing wheel towards the glowing green to straighten it up and continue down the lane!

starting-machine-harvest-carignan-harvestcarignan-ready-harvest

 

 

 

Next: hand harvesting old vineyard Carignan.