In no way do I want to emulate Chris’s passion for and knowledge about wines. But most of the wines he bought have been drunk, with much appreciation, and I have been trying to maintain the cellar, helped immensely by Peter, Chris’s brother.
Apart from the odd gift and my fondness for Alsace wines , Gewûrtztraminer and Champagne, I’m not attempting to cover anything but the windes of Languedoc Roussillon.
Here is my current wine cellar, recently topped up by two jolly days of winetasting visits to vignerons with Peter.
- Mas Foulaquier
This was a favourite of Chris’s, but the wines have become well known and are a bit out of my price range. Tempted though …
- Domaine de Villeneuve
Another favourite of Chris’s also close to the village of Claret. We used to go there when the domaine was run by Christian Florac. It is now run by his daughter Anne-Lise and her husband. Lovely wines but again their quality is reflected in their price.
- Château de Lancyre
This is a big domaine by local standards – 78 hectares. A recent discovery for me – I like the wines and the prices.
- Mas Gourdou
This has been a favourite of Chris, Peter and me for years, not least because of the delightful experience of visiting the cave and being received by the old proprietor, Monsieur Therond – in theory he retired a year ago (2013) and the domaine is now run the next generation. Peter and I sat in the small cave with him while he enthused about his wines. He belongs to the wines should be enjoyed rather than fussed over and stored. More interested in improving the quality of the grape than the process of mixing the cépages. We particularly loved a 2011 bottle we drank at a local restaurant in le Vigan.
- Mas Conscience
Peter and I arrived here (2014) expecting to see the previous owner, Laurent Vidal, but he is in the process of handing over to the new owners, Nathalie et Eric Ajorque. They are totally new to winemaking, although brought up in agricultural families, hence a year’s handing over period while they learn the ropes. They are very enthusiastic about Vidal’s commitment to organic wines and working at the individual character of each of their vineyards. Delicious wines, reasonable prices. We’ll be back.
- Domaine Puech Lazert
No trip to this area is complete without calling on Laurent Taisse and his indefatigable mother, Mme Taisse, to taste their outstanding red wine (don’t be deceived by the ‘Vin de Pays’ label – these are class) and enjoying lively conversation at their kitchen table.
- Trois Terres
This is a tiny domaine of not much more than four hectares, spread over three vineyards in different locations – hence the name – run by an Englishman, Graham Angus and his wife, Alice! We know them through my friend, Sara, and I now regard them as valued friends, so I’m not entirely objective. But Graham’s wines are good, as well as very affordable, I promise you! Good enough to have picked up the odd medaille over the decade since they embarked on this new chapter in their lives (Graham maintains one foot in his old life as a doctor, working part-time a doctor in the village of Octon, beside Lac du Salagou).
Côtes du Rhône
I’ve not visited any domaines, but I enjoy Rhone wines, most of which I get in the local supermarkets and our le Vigan wineshop, L’Arbre à Vins.