The AOC of Cabardès is situated just 10 miles North of the beautiful medieval walled city of Carcassonne. This is where the cooling breezes of the Atlantic balance the heat of the Southern sun. It is here that Cabernet and Merlot sit alongside Syrah and Grenache. We have been visiting the area for over 20 years and in the past we have shipped wine from the famous Château Pennautier.
More recently we have shipped a couple of vintages from the up-and-coming Domaine de Cazaban and they have proved incredibly popular. So, we simply had to revisit in the Spring of 2014, when we bought some of their excellent 2013s.
Claire and Clément Mengus arrived from Alsace in 2004 to settle in this beautiful part of the Southern countryside. This is where the wild garrigue of the Languedoc meets the more restrained countryside of Aquitaine. Clément trained at Beaune and then Dijon, and after working for several Alsace domaines, the couple decided to head for the sun and garrigue in Cabardès. They are currently in the process of converting the domaine farming to Bio, and all these wines are certified organic.
They own 15 hectares of vine and garrigue, of which 6 hectares surrounds their property and another 2 hectares is located in the schist soils of the foothills of the Montagne Noire with stunning views of the snow-capped Pyrenees. It is here, at a higher altitude, they have very old vines of Carignan and Grenache.
The current vintage is 2013, and Clément has produced some very elegant wines, which we knew we had to buy immediately, as his wines soon sell out. All these wines have avoided the blockbuster style often found in this areas, and weigh in at around 12.5 t0 13% alcohol, and the style is one of elegance and subtlety. We’ve deliberately kept them for 12 months in our cellars to allow them to develop a little more bottle age, and they are now drinking beautifully…
This is a great opportunity to try a Mixed Case, containing three bottles of each of the following wines –
Syrah de Clément Mengus 2013
Due to the success of his wines and the lack of supply to satisfy demand, a wine importer in Quebec persuaded Clément to buy in grapes from other areas and produce a new wine this year. This Syrah comes from carefully selected grapes from the adjacent regions of Faugères and Corbières, and it is vinified in stainless steel. It is a medium purple colour, with a wonderful nose of violets. This leads into a racy, fresh mouthful of concentrated fruit bursting with flavours of raspberries and finishing with a hint of liquorice. A great success for his first vintage!
Jours de Vigne 2013
IGP Côtes de Lastours
This is made from Syrah, Grenache and old vine Carignan, using a proportion of maceration carbonique wine – the method used in Beaujolais – to enhance the fresh, fruity characteristics of the grapes. Then Merlot is vinified conventionally and added to the blend.
It has a medium ruby colour with a mouth-watering nose of wild flowers, blackcurrant and black cherry. On the palate it is very silky and elegant with soft, leafy, raspberry and black cherry flavours, finishing with very gentle tannin and acidity. It is very soft and approachable and lovely to drink now, but can be kept happily for a couple of years.
Demoiselle Claire 2013
This is made from 60% Syrah and 40% Merlot. The wine is fermented at low temperature in stainless steel. Of this 90% is left on the lees to extract maximum flavour and 10% is aged in a combination of new oak barriques of 500L and Burgundian barrels of 250L. The two are then blended carefully together. There is minimal use of sulphur and no filtering, to guarantee the optimal quality.
This has a medium ruby colour with a violet rim, and has a wonderful nose of black fruits with hints of cherry and raspberry and subtle, expensive oak. It is a delicate, elegant wine, with a silky texture and pretty summer fruit flavours, combining the raciness of Syrah with the soft plum flavours of Merlot. Still young, it is very enjoyable now but will gradually improve in complexity over the next 12 months.
Petites Rangées 2012
From the riper 2012 vintage, this is a blend of 25% Cabernet Franc, 50% Syrah and 25% Merlot. The grapes are individually sorted and destemmed before vinification. The wine is then aged in three year old Burgundy barriques for nine months.
This is a deeper purple colour with a perfumed herby nose, and in the mouth it is silky with supple, ripe black fruits and hints of sour cherries, and finishes with a gentle echo of eucalyptus and fennel. Lovely wine, and goes beautifully with duck with figs!