Yesterday I went to the organic Domaine de la Triballe in Guzargues. No photos this time - sorry! We'd met Sabine Durand and her father Olivier during the excellent Balade Gourmande for the Grès de Montpellier appellation, around Montepellier itself last weekend (see separate post to come), and found their wines really interesting and a bit different, so I decided to stop off on my way to sing in St Matthieu de Tréviers.
It was a typical vineyard visit, that is, difficult to find especially since I was relying on an internet map - I'll try to include a real map to show the rather wild and isolated setting - so I ended up phoning from the village centre to discover that the caveau is a 2 km out in the country (and a lot simpler to find next time without going through the village!) Anyhow, I arrived in a rather ramshackle courtyard and deserted buildings, but Olivier arrived soon after and his daughter followed to serve another customer. Arriving for tastings just after the lunch break here is always slightly risky...
They make some vin de pays, cabernet sauvignon and others, but their main production is in AOC Languedoc - Grès de Montpellier and Pic Saint Loup. Having tasted the rich white AOC "Aphyllante" at the weekend, along with the nice Grès "Capitelle" 2011 which is mostly grenache, I decided to taste the other reds, a classic Languedoc which is 50% carignan plus grenache and syrah, very pleasant but with good structure, and then one called "En attendant que..." which is complex, 60% syrah and 40% grenache, and will certainly keep. I did not taste, but bought to try, the 2010 Capitelle, which has a longer name and a story to match.
As you drive along the new 'Lien' road towards St Matthieu, you go through an area devastated by fire in the summer of 2010. I realised as I approached Triballe yesterday that Guzargues had been one of the villages worst hit - a friend's house there had only narrowly escaped. And although vines have a reputation of not burning, parts of the vineyard had in fact been destroyed, including much of the Triballe grenache. So their cuvée "La Capitelle part en fumée" 2010 was produced in only tiny quantities (700 bottles instead of several thousand) that year, and using a much higher proportion of syrah than usual. It commands a relatively high price, 18€, not just for its rarity value but because it gained two stars in the 2013 Guide Hachette! I'm really looking forward to trying it - naturally they were not keen to open one of the rare bottles left for tasting.
Sabine now does most of the winemaking. Olivier told me they do export a little to the UK, but hopes for more when a favourable Decanter review appears soon. The premises would win few prizes for elegance, but the wine shows a lot of talent concentrated where it should be, in the bottle. I'll certainly return.