On Sunday we went with friends David and Bigi to the village of Montpeyroux north-west of Montpellier. This is one of the best-known wine villages in the Languedoc, and has acquired a reputation for exceptional wines. It was our first visit and there were 20 producers offering tastings - needless to say we did not visit all of them. The village is quite high up in the hilly area known as the Terrasses de Larzac, and Mary had said as we drove over that she thought the wines might be quite austere - she was more or less right, but our small sample of tastings found some elegant wines - at a price. The reputation of the village has led to quite high prices compared with, for example, our local Saint Christol, and the quality did not always seem to match the premium; but part of the enjoyment of tasting is to meet interesting makers, and so where we received a warm welcome we were more inclined to enjoy the wines!
Our first visit, and last, was to the Domaine La Jasse Castel. Early in the day we met the friendly vigneronne Pascale Rivière and tasted the white "l'Egrisée" (100% grenache blanc - 12€). The name means 'diamond dust' and the wine is fresh, quite acidic but beautifully balanced - this was its first vintage. When we returned at the end of our circuit on the way to the car I tried some reds, Les Combariolles and La Jasse, both syrah grenache blends, the first mostly grenache (26€) and the second mainly syrah (17.40€) - deep dark wines which will keep. Though none of these wines were cheap, we enjoyed the meeting and brought some bottles away.
One of the best-known producers is the Domaine d'Aupilhac at the top of the village. The prices here are equally high, and the quality did not always seem to justify the cost, but the premises alone were worth the visit, and as often they had invited a local artist to display work throughout the cellars and tasting rooms. The premises occupy several interconnected houses along the street front. Most of the wines scarcely seemed to justify their high prices, but I looked especially for the Carignan de Mont Baudile and was not disappointed by a dense wine which is typical of the vins de pays of this area, anything but ordinary. A tasting of a 2004 vintage at the end of the tour confirmed its development potential with age. We also loved Le Boda, an AOP wine made mainly of mourvèdre and syrah and barrel aged for 24 months before bottling.
Working through a number of other producers nearby we tried some interesting single-variety wines from Villa Dondona whose new Dame Mourvèdre has only just been bottled for the first time and whose Chemin de Cayrades (Carignan) seemed very interesting. We were disappointed that the Domaine Alain Chabanon (several nice wines - they say they have a website but it keeps crashing) had not brought its late-picked chenin blanc 'Le Villard' to the tastings; and we found most of the wines at the Cave Co-opérative disappointing though the prices were very good! We bought a few bottles of the pleasant red Cuvée Or - very affordable at 3.40€, but were very disappointed by the carignan which seemed watery and lacking in body. We could have stayed longer but the weather deteriorated which was sad for the organisers who had put a lot of work into an entertaining day, so we went home after lunch.
Thanks to Bigi for some of the photos!