Domaine Girard, Malepère
Vines at Domaine Girard
Not far from the historic city of Carcassonne, where the rolling countryside of this area is rich in pretty terracotta-roofed villages and beautiful orchards, there are stunning views of the Pyrenees. It is here that the slopes and terraces of vines alternate with cereal production and oak woods, in an almost Tuscan landscape. The climatic and geological situation (sandstone and limestone outcrops and clay hillsides) in the West has led to planting of Merlot, Cabernets and Malbec, varieties from Aquitaine. On the dryer soils the Mediterranean varieties of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault are grown. The region of Malepère has had a VDQS classification for many years but the consistent high quality of the wines resulted in its elevation to full appellation status in recent years.
The 30 hectare vineyard enjoys the cooler climate of an altitude of 300 to 450 metres, which provides an ideal temperature for ripening of the grapes – their Pinot Noir ripens particularly well, avoiding the jammyness that often afflicts wines from this region.
Vine growing has been in the family for four generations with the grapes being sold to the local cooperative. More recently the two brothers of the new generation have started to vinify and sell their wines separately. Philippe is responsible for the vinification and marketing. His brother Jean-François works in the vines.
Just a few years ago, they invested heavily in a modern winery, and the wines took yet another step up in quality. Each year that we have visited we’ve been more impressed by the results and this year we’ve shipped four outstanding reds – two based on Merlot & Cabernet Franc and two which are 100% Pinot Noir.
We are offering a 12-bottle mixed case, comprising three bottles of each of –
Domaine Girard Rouge Tradition 2020
A Saint Emilion-like blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, this is deep purple with a superb nose of blackcurrants and redcurrants. It is packed with juicy cassis and damson flavours, and soft ripe tannins with good length. Think of it as a power packed petit château from Bordeaux.
Winner of the Coup de Coeur in the prestigious Guide Hachette! Outstanding value – £13.50 elsewhere…
Domaine Girard Cuvée Néri 2019
Philippe’s top wine is made from 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc from the best parcels, and with the judicious addition of 10% Malbec. This is then aged gently in oak for seven months.
It is deep in colour, with an intense nose of cassis and hints of cedar. This leads into a rich mouthful of concentrated fruit, with great complexity. There are underlying flavours of fruitcake, spice, cinnamon and cloves, and it finishes with soft tannins and great length.
In style, it is like a Grand Cru Saint Emilion on steroids! It is very much a food wine, and the great structure will ensure it will keep for five years, softening and becoming more complex.
Winner of the prestigious Guide Hachette Coup de Coeur for three consecutive years…
Available elsewhere in the UK at £15.50…
Domaine Girard Pinot Noir 2021
IGP Pays d’Oc
The first Pinot Noir is unoaked to showcase the purity of fruit, which is made from high altitude 30 year old vines with low yields of 35hl/ha.
It is medium/pale purple in colour with a vibrant Pinot nose of black cherries. On the palate, it is delicate and full of joyous black cherry fruit, finishing with redcurrants and a hint of pepper. The fresh acidity gives it a racy finish, making it a perfect for lamb cutlets with Provence herbs! It is best served slightly chilled. Available elsewhere for £14.25…
Domaine Girard Pinot Noir Pech Calvel 2019
IGP Pays d’Oc
In contrast, this Pinot Noir is oak aged. The cooler climate of his high altitude (300 m) vineyard, adjacent to Limoux prevents this Pinot Noir becoming jammy – a problem with so many similar wines. These grapes from the best plots, with lower yields of 30hl/ha, are then aged gently in 500L Burgundian oak barrels for eight months.
A little deeper in colour. Black cherry and raspberry flavours abound with a hint of oak. Elegant and delicious now. Previous vintages have shown us that this wine ages and becomes more complex over 3-5 years.
In style, almost a cross between a good Bourgogne Pinot Noir and a New Zealand Pinot Noir. Available for £15.95 elsewhere…