Heading West from Montpelier towards the beautiful old monastery at Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, you will come across the small market town of Gignac. The picturesque Château d’Aumières is just outside the town. It consists of 40 hectares, abutting onto the vineyard of the world-famous Mas de Daumas Gassac, and into the mountainous Terrasses du Larzac where they have 15 hectares. They share some of the same terroir that has made the Cabernet Sauvignon of Mas de Daumas Gassac so highly sought after. Even Robert Mondavi from the Napa Valley tried (and failed) to buy land here.
It was here that we met Vianney Castan, the fourth-generation winemaker from a family who have been making wines in the South of France since 1907. In 2013 recognising the huge potential of the vineyard and its terroir he purchased Château d’Aumières. Over the previous decade the vineyard had struggled to survive with a number of different owners. Vianney acquired an eclectic palate of grape varieties, ranging from the Bordelaise Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to the Southern varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. He immediately invested heavily in new vinification equipment. At the same time he installed a dynamic young team to bring this vineyard into the 21st century.
When we visited in May we were extremely impressed by the quality and value for money of his wines, and we knew we had to have some!
We are offering a Mixed Case of four bottles of each of the following –
Château Saint Jean d’Aumières, Les Collines 2015
IGP Pays d’Oc
Made from Merlot, the grapes are ideally suited to this perfect microclimate with its cool summer nights. The grapes are destemmed and carefully vinified in temperature-controlled cuves, after which the wine is aged just for six months in old oak barriques.
It is a bright purple in colour with a ripe berry, Merlot nose with hints of toasted brioche. This leads into a soft, ripe mouthful of silky plummy fruit, finishing with soft tannins and hints of tobacco. Drink now and over the next two years. Delicious!
Château Saint Jean d’Aumières, Les Marnes, Medaille d’Or Paris, 2015
IGP Pays d’Oc
By contrast, this made from Cabernet Sauvignon, which ripens perfectly in the limestone and loam of the marnes soil. It is vinified in a similar way with six months in oak.
The colour is deeper, and there is a gorgeous nose of cedar and cassis. Pure, concentrated cassis fruit dominates the palate, with leafy hints and a touch of cedar at the finish. The tannins are soft and ripe and there is good length. Once again, this is perfect for current drinking but will easily keep for two to three years.
Château Saint Jean d’Aumières, L’Alchimiste 2013
AOP Terrasses du Larzac
This vineyard occupies the same dramatic mountainous landscape as Château Sauvageonne, until recently a York-owned vineyard, whose wines many of you have enjoyed from us in the past.
Southern grapes make up the blend, with 45% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 15% Carignan. To add complexity while maintaining the purity of the fruit, part of the wine is aged for 12 months in oak barrels and then blended back in.
The resulting wine is very deep in colour with a gentle minty nose and hints of truffle. The palate is bursting with black fruits. It is rich and complex with gamey flavours, ripe tannins and great length. Yet, it remains surprisingly elegant.
This calls out for beef with olives, tomatoes and wild herbs…