I was planning to do another post on Alsace this week but you know how it is when it's the kind that requires you to collect your thoughts and plough through extensive tasting notes? And I was in the Languedoc which made it feel odd writing about Alsace. At least that's my excuse. I also had a good book . . .
Anyway here's what we drank one night at Chez Philippe in Marseillan, a restaurant we'd always meant to go to and finally managed this trip*. It's a pure Cinsault called Oeillade from Guilhem Dardé of Mas de Chimères who makes wine round the Lac de Salagou.
It was deliciously mineral, almost stoney with the sort of crunchy but not oversweet wild berry fruit you find in a Cabernet Franc. And a tantalising smell of red rose petals. The soil in that area is apparently rich in iron oxide with blocks of basalt from the (fortunately extinct) volcanoes that surround the valley.
Dardé, who describes himself as a 'paysan vigneron' says on his site that he hasn't used herbicides or pesticides for several years and is currently in organic conversion. Yields are kept at 26 hl per ha. He uses indigenous yeasts and minimal levels of sulphur and no fining or filtering for the reds.
He recommends it should be drunk young (3-4 years) and cool (14°-16°) which is how the restaurant served it, all credit to them. We took the last third of the bottle back home (drink driving laws in France are draconian) and found it even better two nights later.
* And would I recommend Chez Philippe? I would, despite the ridiculous over-elaboration of a couple of the dishes, the flavours were good and authentic Languedoc. And, witness the wine above, the wine list was interesting and fairly priced.