The Jewels of the Languedoc – TASTING THURSDAY 25TH 7PM

THE TASTING

 THURSDAY 25TH APRIL 7PM - 9PM - AT THE SHOP


This is a fantastic line up of very accessible and delicious wine.  we will serve them with an array of goats cheeses and some spicy 'Merguez' Sausages, a classic of the Languedoc region.  There will also be plenty of delicious sour dough bread from Lovingly Artisan (the best in this region).

GETTING TO THE SHOP

We are aware of the fact that we are a little outside of town, any town!  So for those of you who want to come to the event, but struggle with the whole driving and drinking wine thing, let us know and we will come and get you and drop you off after!  If you live within reasonable distance (Settle, Austwick etc, say 10-15 mins) of our shop at The Courtyard Dairy and want a lift, please get in touch after booking your tickets online.

THE LINE UP 

Traverses Blanc Domaine de Courbissac 2021 - Minervois
Maccabeu Domaine Ledogar 2022 - Corbieres
Le Blanc Leon Barral 2021 - Faugeres
L'Orange Domaine de Courbissac 2022 - Minervois
Le Laouzil Thierry Navarre 2022 - Saint Chinian 

Les Farradjales Courbissac 2020 - Minervois
Tour Nature Ledogar 2021 - Corbieres
Jadis Leon Barral 2018 - Faugeres

£30 per person 

BOOK TICKETS!

LANGUEDOC - THE PLACE

I have always loved the wines of the Languedoc but haven't been there for a long while. A recent trip reignited my passion for this incredibly beautiful and diverse region of southern France.

The Languedoc is a large area for wine, stretching from Arles in east across to Carcassonne in the west and it borders the Roussillon to the South which takes you to the Spanish Border. Administratively, the two areas are joined together and called Languedoc/Roussillon but more recently - at least from a wine perspective - they seem to be considered separate. This is one of the largest wine growing areas in the world and also the oldest in France with production dating back to Greek settlers in the 5th Century BC. It has a chequered history, being highly considered in the 14th century as a life giving wine to becoming infamous in the 1980s for 'Le Gros Rouge' and helping to fill up the wine lake of Europe with undrinkable plonk. Out of that economic disaster has emerged a new wave of young wine makers, using natural, sustainable production and making some delicious easy drinking wines.

The area is absolutely blessed. You can count on wall to wall sunshine, with cool dry winters and blisteringly hot summers, (lack of rainfall is actually becoming a big problem, not just for the vines but also due to the danger of forest fires). There is a long coastline with sandy beaches and fantastic little Towns like Sete perched on the hill overlooking the Med. You have amazing Cities like Carcassonne and Montpellier, which is surely one of France's best. It is vibrant and beautiful, with little boutiques and artisan shops tucked away in narrow alley ways. It has delightful little squares and classic Mediterranean architecture. There is a superb University and students are everywhere, tapping on alp tops and sipping espressos. There is so much wine and food culture, you spend the whole day wanting to constantly eat and drink.

We had a great lunch of Fish and Risotto in a place called 'Lipopette', on the Rue Faubourg du Courreau. This must be one of the main streets for food and natural wine with bars, restaurants and shops, teeming with students and hipsters, all the way along it. The street leads straight to the 'Place de la Comedie', a bit more main stream touristy but still impressive and very chique.

But, it is the interior of the Languedoc which really inspires and overloads the senses. Like many parts of southern France, the rolling hills are an evolving mix of vineyards, rocky limestone outcrops, garrigue and woodland. Every few kilometres you come across another peaceful little village, often with an old abandoned 'Cave Cooperative' and tiny narrow streets with blue shuttered houses. The great thing about the Languedoc as apposed to say the Dordogne or Provence, is that it still feels real, not just a tourist place or where ex-pats have bought all the properties and taken over. You find working men sipping beers and pastis in the bars at the end of the day. The markets run through the winter and are frequented by locals and also everyone seemed really nice and friendly! We stayed in Saint Chinian, famous for its wine and definitely still a place where proper French people live and work.

Far and away the best way to experience the place is by bike, (push bike that is). The roads are amazingly smooth and well maintained. in April, there is very little traffic (not sure about the summer!). By bike you really feel the place, you smell the aromas and hear the sounds. The lie of the land is fantastic, the roads duck and dive, twist and turn very gently and you can cover a lot of ground quickly. If you head into the Haut Languedoc around Olargues, a little further to the north at the top of the Gorges de L'Orb, you can find higher hills, longer climbs and more spectacular scenery. For the cyclist the place is simply paradise.

THE PEOPLE

There are lots of regions and fantastic wineries in the Languedoc but we know three in particular which are particularly cool. They come from three of the main areas of production, the Minervois, Corbieres, and Faugeres.

Domaine de Courbissac - Brunnhilde Claux

Brunnhilde Claux learned about wine making with the best, at Domaine Gauby in the Roussillon. She then helped Dominik Huber to make the wines fresher and more elegant at Terroir Al Limit in Priorat. With the help and investment of German film producer Reinhard Brundig, this once abandoned and most beautiful of vineyards was brought back to life by Brunnhilde in 2014 and since then has gone from strength to strength. Brunnhilde is obsessed with freshness, with producing balanced wines with lower abv and with capturing the terroir as naturally and sustainably as possible. She has no time for bullshit, time wasters or people who tell her what her wine should be. She has her own vision and approach and it is 100% holistic, balanced and with quality in mind.

The Domain has to be one of the region's most beautiful, 40 hectares, with 17 under vine tucked away on the lower slopes of the Montagne Noir just above the village of Cesseras. The dusty winding track leads you up to around 200 metres above sea level where the old vines are dotted around the hillside surrounded by garrigue and 'sous bois'. The small team at Courbissac are working very hard to return indigenous species of trees and plant life to the domaine, to revitalise it and increase the bio-diversity. All the vineyards and new plantings are mini parcels, surrounded by fruit trees, olives, Almonds, and a huge array of local flora and fauna.

The 17 hectares are planted with the classic grapes of the region, Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvedre, with some very old vines of Cinsault higher up in the Farradjales plot. They also have white grapes including Grenache Blanc, Muscat and seventy year old vines of Listan, a white grape which is the same as Palomino in Sherry and is also widely planted in the Canary Islands. Brunnhilde loves this salty white grape as it has lower alcohol and a lovely, dry, nutty freshness. They have planted more and also some other rare indigenous varieties.

There are six different cuvees and all have a delightful personality which is both classic and new wave. The reds are incredibly elegant, made with virtually no sulphur but clean as a whistle. Brunnhilde doesn't like funky and detests the use of the word purity, for it means nothing to her. The wines are honest and real and absolutely delicious. When talking about her work, after a tasting on a sunny afternoon in April, she seems tired, but vocal;

'it is tough you know, making wine like this, it is every day, it never stops, it is a lifestyle, not a job, but you do it because you love it, nothing else.'

THE WINES

MINERVOIS LES TRAVERSES DOMAINE DE COURBISSAC 2020 £22.00

VDF LES TRAVERSES BLANC DOMAINE DE COURBISSAC 2021 £23.00

L’ORANGE COURBISSAC (ORANGE WINE) 2022 £28.00

MINERVOIS ROC DU PIERE DOMAINE DE COURBISSAC 2019 £32.00

MINERVOIS ROC SUZADOU DOMAINE DE COURBISSAC 2020 £32.00

MINERVOIS LES FARRADJALES COURBISSAC 2020 £32.00

COURBISSAC MIXED CASE - 6 BOTTLES - £155

Domaine Ledogar - Xavier and Mattieu

Xavier is nine years older than his brother and started the winery two decades ago with their Father. There had always been vines in the family on the low hills just above Lezignan-Courbissac but it was Xavier who convinced the family to stop selling thr fruit and to make their own wine and go natural. In fact, they shifted to biodynamic production and been in and out of certification, according to Mattieu who looks after the vines, certification has its limitations, (we hear this a lot).

Mattieu was a car mechanic for 10 years before wine maker Xavier convinced him to turn his hand to vine growing. He had always had a fascination for plants and their land and his naturally physical nature made him ideal for the hard work of the vineyards. They now have Benoit for help and between the three of them produce around 60,000 bottles a year across 7 or 8 labels. This year, they are having a go at their first skin contact wine.

Mattieu talks quietly about their approach in the 120 year old cellar which used to be a large Coop style winery and has vats dating back as far which fit over 100,000 bottles inside. He has the thickest southern accent I have evet heard and is very calm and measured, perhaps a personality which develops after many long days tending to the vines. 'We tried to use horses at the start, to protect the soil, but they were a pain because they never did what they were supposed to! They were totally impractical, now we use a small tractor with caterpillar tracks and this works well for the soil'

Courbissac wines are very high quality, the clay limestone soils have not seen chemical use now for 20 years and although water is scarce, the vines have deep roots and produce well most vintages. The white wines have delicious texture and richness, a good alternative to Burgundy, the reds are a little more rustic than Courbissac and certainly heartier, with higher abv and more dense dark, brambly fruit. Mariole from 100 year old Carignan vines has zing and crunchy fruit but also that rustic carthorse style character of real 'vin de terroir' from the south. Tout Nature made with no added sulphur is rich and deep, ages for years, is simply gorgeous full bodied red and is one of our favourites.

THE WINES

Maccabeu 202 - £23.00

La Mariole Old Vine Carignan 2022 - £29.00

Tout Nature 2021 - £33.00

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Didier Barral - Domaine Barral

Didier Barral is a thirteenth-generation winegrower but really we think of him as more of a biodynamic farmer. He is in essence a polyculturist, a worm/insect/animal farmer, a thinker, a tinkerer and a renaissance man...

The Barral family has been growing vines in the hamlet of Lenthéric, part of the Faugères appellation in the heart of the Languedoc for centuries. In the early 1990’s, Didier decided to estate-bottle the wines and created Domaine Léon Barral, named after his grandfather. From the start, he wanted to implement biodynamic farming, but with a large domaine of 35 hectares he knew it would be a challenge so began with the singular aim of creating a self-sustaining ecosystem in his vineyards. Didier pioneered a wide range of practices to return natural balance to his soils, ultimately creating a biodiverse domaine overflowing with life. Local grapes flourish in this harsh, dry, windy region in parcels enclosed by trees, with thriving soils where all living organic matter is protected.

Didier has made significant advances in soil management, pest control and drought mitigation, and has strong views and opinions on all manner of organic and biodynamic viticulture. But he is not at all dogmatic and resists imperatives. From his insistence on bush training, the equipment he uses (or declines to use) in the vineyards, or his dedication to polyculture, he speaks only for himself – but with incredible detail and fortitude resulting from decades of observation and experimentation.

All work is done naturally and with as little intervention as possible, with a common sense approach to encourage the optimal life of the soil. He uses straddle tractors to avoid compaction, makes compost from recycled cardboard cartons and avoids all chemical treatments. He fosters worm colonies to enrich soils, and builds nesting boxes for bats, offering refuge to these nocturnal allies who eat the insects responsible for grape worms.

Domaine Léon Barral is a model of sustainability at its finest – where an ecosystem thrives autonomously, under the watchful eye of Didier. It is the diagram of a farm that would have existed in the 19th century – with animals, fruit trees and cereals all co-mingling with rows of grape vines. If only, large scale agriculture could learn from people like Didier.

The result of these efforts are complex, powerful wines that develop exceptionally over time. The slightly acid schist soils give an earthy, mineral note to his four cuvées – three red and one white. All are made from a blend of local grapes: Terret Gris, and blanc Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah andMourvèdre.

Didier considers the wine all but finished once it leaves the vineyard, and practices hands-off winemaking. The various grapes are vinified separately, and always as whole bunches – nothing is destemmed. Fermentation uses only indigenous yeasts and long macerations get regular manual punch-downs. Most of the wines are aged for at least two years in wood, with a few in cement and stainless steel tanks. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Each wine features a signature freshness and acidity - which Didier believes is achieved thanks to his thriving soils, and intense flavours - which are the result of his dedication to low yields and the use of many old vines.

Although Courbissac and Ledogar are making sensational wine, one might be tempted to consider Didier as the King of the Languedoc. His approach is singularly uncompromising and the region where he operates, the hills of Faugeres is that bit more 'sauvage' and barren. He wines certainly have a regal character to them and age forever. We would urge you to add a case to your cellar.

THE WINES

LE BLANC 2021 - £42.00

FAUGERES TRADITION 2019 - £36.00

FAUGERES JADIS 2018 - £48.00