North of Béziers in the Languedoc the countryside becomes wild and beautiful in the area of Saint Chinian. There are some 20 villages nestling in the valley around the town itself. I first became aware of Clos Bagatelle when I was cycling through the valley from Béziers some years ago, soaking in the amazing panoramic views as I climbed the hills and then discovering the beautiful hilltop windmill, as I descended towards Saint Chinian. The 60 hectare property of Clos Bagatelle is located on the outskirts of the town and has been producing wine here since 1632.
There are two distinct terroirs in the vineyard – schist and limestone. Cuvée Donnadieu is sourced from schistous soils, while Cuvée Bagatelle is sourced from limestone and clay soils. All the grapes are hand-picked and each variety is vinified separately before careful blending and ageing.
In 1963 the current family bought the property and set about renovating the vineyard. They planted new vines, installed new equipment and now the next generation, Christine Deleuze and her brother Luc, have continued the family tradition by producing wines of great character.
Luc manages the vineyard, where he focuses on minimal intervention, while Christine directs her boundless enthusiasm towards making the wines. Together they are slowly working towards “Bio” wines.
Christine Deleuze & brother Luc
We have shipped Christine’s wines consistently over the past 10 years, and since then they have gone on to receive many awards and international acclaim. Christine is a great perfectionist and loves to vinify different plots separately to express the individual qualities of each one. When we visited her in the Spring we were hard pressed to choose from such a brilliant selection of 17 different cuves! However, we have selected two superb wines from different plots, which demonstrate the different terroirs of the two locations.
A Mixed Dozen contains six bottles of each of –
Sentiers de Bagatelle Colline d’Assignan Rouge 2014
AOP Saint Chinian
This first red is from a terroir de grés. This is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Carignan, at an altitude of 250 metres. The Carignan vines from this site are an amazing 50 years old! The wine is aged in large oak casks.
It is deep in colour, with an intense black fruit nose with hints of mint and minerals. On the palate it is concentrated, with flavours of soft black fruits, displaying great elegance and finishing with lovely soft tannins and hints of balsamic and liquorice.
Sentiers de Bagatelle Donnadieu 2014
AOP Saint Chinian
The second red is from a terroir de schistes. An interesting blend of 50% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache noir and 15% Carignan makes up this cuvée. The Grenache and Syrah are more than 30 years old.
The Syrah is vinified by the Beaujolais method of maceration carbonique, which highlights the fruit flavours. Ageing takes place in large oak casks for 12 months.
The nose is marked by fresh fruit and hints of the garrigue, while on the palate it is bursting with juicy raspberry and black cherry fruit, yet remaining elegant. It and finishes with a touch of black pepper and eucalyptus. Silver Medal winner Decanter magazine 2015
These wines will cellar well for the next 5 years. We are enjoying the last of the Donnadieu 2010, which is full of fruit still!