The pretty village of Alaigne is west of the city of Carcasssonne and near the town of Limoux. From 25 hectares of vines, planted at an altitude of 350 to 450 metres, Philippe Girard makes some superb fresh Chardonnays, that benefit from a cooler and longer ripening period.
The vineyard has been in the family for four generations. Previously the grapes were sold to the cooperative, and it has only been since 2000 that Philippe has been producing his own wines. Last year they built a spanking-new chais, with temperature-controlled fermentation vats. We have been shipping his wonderful Malepère reds for a number of years.
Philippe lost the majority of his crop in 2017 due to massive hailstones. Fortunately for us, we were able to reserve some of the remaining wine from the excellent 2016 vintage.
He practises Agriculture Raisonnée, using the absolute minimum of pesticides and chemicals on his vines. Frequently Chardonnays from the South of France are too ripe and lack acidity, tending to be big, bland and flabby. What a contrast these two wines make! Being near to the foothills of the Pyrenees the vineyards are much cooler, with the grapes ripening more slowly and evenly, producing wines are that are concentrated, elegant and long, but with zippy acidity..
This lovely pair give all of the pleasure of good Southern white Burgundy, without breaking the bank!
A Mixed 6-bottle case contains three bottles of each of –
Domaine Girard, Chardonnay Elevé sur lies fines 2016
At an altitude of 350 metres, this wine is vinified in 500L barrels, of which 40% are new and 60% are 1-3 years old. The aim is to preserve the intensity of the fruit, while adding complexity without oak flavours. And it works!
Pale lemon in colour, it has lovely mouthfeel with good concentration of juicy, ripe fruit. There is a hint of vanilla, lovely acidity and good length.
For all the world, like a good Saint Véran from Burgundy.
Domaine Girard Chardonnay Las Salvios 2016
The vines for this wine come from a tiny parcel in the adjacent area of Limoux, which has its own appellation. The slopes are at an even higher altitude of 450 metres, the vines are older and the yields are lower.
This is vinified in a similar way, but 80% of the oak barrels are new each year to match the higher quality of the fruit. Unusually for this region, it undergoes a secondary malolactic fermentation – as in Burgundy – which adds complexity and softens the mouthfeel.
It has a little more colour. The nose is richer and riper. There are wonderful exotic fruit salad flavours, the texture is more buttery and creamy. The acidity is softer and there is good length.
Very much a Pouilly Fuissé is style – but at a fraction of the price!