Skip to main content

Domaine Anne Gros / Jean-Paul Tollot: two Burgundians in the Languedoc

Dwayne Perreault — What better an endorsement can the Languedoc get than to have one of the top winemakers in Burgundy, a producer of such grand crus as Richebourg, Echezeaux and Clos Vougeot, come to the region, recognize a great terroir when they see it, and take the risk of making a major investment in an area which, let’s be honest, pales in comparison to the reputation of le Bourgogne?

Les Carretals

But that is what Anne Gros and her husband Jean Paul Tollot have done. Having established reputations in Burgundy, they were looking for a new adventure and were considering purchasing a vineyard in the south of France. They came to the tiny hamlet of Cazelles in the Minervois, bordering on St. Chinian, and it was love at first sight. A brand new winery was built in 2008, now sitting on 16 hectares of vines ranging from 5 years to more than 100 years old. Modern, high-tech equipment is used, including three different sized tractors, since the oldest vines are so narrowly planted that not even a quad can pass between them.

I spend part of spring/summer in Roquebrun, and Cazelles is only a half hour drive away, passing through several different landscapes and the beautiful medieval village of Minerve, perched on an enormous gorge. And this is what I love about the Languedoc, the variety of astonishingly different regions and terroirs within such a short distance. The soils of Roquebrun in the mountains are largely composed of shales, both red and black. Heading into St. Chinian on the plain, these shales are complemented by reddish clays. From Minerve, you begin the steady climb, zig-zagging your way along the small highway until you arrive on the plateau of the Minervois itself, just before St. Jean de Minervois, and suddenly you are blinded by the brilliant white limestones so typical of the region, with its millions and millions of jagged stones.

Les Fontenilles

Unfortunately, neither Anne nor Jean Paul were at the domain at the time of our visit, but no problem: we were greeted by the very knowledgeable and friendly chef de culture, Thibaut Bernabeu. We jumped into a jeep and for the next two hours, Thibaut gave us a very extensive tour of the variegated plots. There is an amazing variety of soils here. On the north side of the winery, they are composed largely of sandstone with mixed pebbles and stones. These are small plots surrounded by garrigues of scrubland bush and fragrant herbs, with occasional pine trees. The vines here are younger, roughly 20 year old Grenache and Syrah, 40 year old Cinsault and Carignan ranging from 30 to 45 years. These vines are used to produce the wines La 50/50 (which receives no wood ageing) and Les Fontanilles (only some wood ageing).

Upon crossing to the southern side of the winery, you might think you’ve arrived in a different country. Here the blinding white limestones on top of clay resembles a lunar landscape, and must indeed be brilliant under moonlight. Millions of rocks are strewn about with an occasional oak tree to provide shade. The stones absorb heat, which allows the clay to remain fresh, and this is important in this particularly hot region where drought can be a problem. Some of the vines here are over a hundred years old. The grapes grown here find their way into the top wines La Ciaude (Syrah, Carignan and Grenache) and Les Carrétals (principally old Carignan). All wines fall under the Minervois appellation.

What followed was an extremely interesting tasting, as they were all samples from barriques which are meant for blending. The 2011 Cinsault from the Fontenilles plot (an experiment, not normally put in barrel) had both power and elegance, rich dark fruits and woody tannins. I have never tasted Cinsault like this before.

The 2011 Carignan from different plots at Les Fontenilles was so Carignan, and I say this as a lover of the grape. Very dark berries, more coarse and with a barnyard component.

The 2011 Syrah from Fontenilles had blue and black berries, spicey with a lighter texture, very fruit driven. You taste here very pure fruit, this would make a wonderful cépage wine, no doubt the result of the producer, more Burgundian than Languedoc in nature.

Finally, a sample of the 2011 Carignan (100 year old vines) from Carrétal. A bit of gunsmoke in the nose, and an explosive fruit character. The 2011 is a refined Carignan, wonderful really. It was a pleasure to visit this domain and taste these yet to be blended wines, particularly fascinating because they are made by Burgundians, truly expressing their own vision in the Languedoc.


Popular posts from this blog

Bordeaux 2017 aanraders - de grootste wijnen

Evenals vorig jaar geven we met plezier onze volstrekt subjectieve lijst met gaafste rode wijnen van het jaar. We hebben bijna alles geproefd van Bordeaux 2017, maar geen Petrus en Lafleur. Binnenkomen bij Petrus is zo'n gedoe dat we dat na jaren proeven maar laten voor wat het is. Lafleur pakken we volgend jaar graag weer mee. Maar zoals is te zien hebben we toch wel weer ons best gedaan.

Cheval Blanc 2017
Latour 2017
Léoville-las-Cases 2017
Palmer 2017
Vieux Château Certan 2017

Ausone 2017
Canon 2017
Haut-Bailly 2017
Lafite Rothschild 2017
l’Eglise-Clinet 2017
La Conseillante 2017
Le Pin 2017
Léoville Barton 2017
Margaux 2017
Montrose 2017
Pontet-Canet 2017

Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse 2017
Clos Fourtet 2017
Cos d’Estournel 2017
Domaine de Chevalier rouge 2017
Grand Puy Lacoste 2017
Haut-Brion 2017
l’Evangile 2017
l’If 2017
La Mission Haut-Brion 2017
Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2017
Lynch Bages 2017
Mouton Rothschild 2017
Pavie Macquin 2017
Rauzan-Ségla 2017

Calon Ségur 20…

Bordeaux 2017 - het herrezen jaar

We zijn terug van vijf dagen proeven, een dikke 8 uur per dag Bordeaux 2017's proeven. Een ervaring rijker, zeker als je de wijnen meetelt die we in de avonden proefden, en dronken. Het meest bijzonder waren wel de Poujeaux 1928 en de Domaine de Chevalier rouge 1928. Ongelofelijke wijnen en een ongekende tijdreis van 90 jaar. Een bijkans mystieke ervaring.

Of wat te denken van de witte Latour Martillac 1948. Toen we een paar dagen later op het château de 2017's proefden hoorden we van de keldermeester dat er die week 2 van de 6 nog aanwezige flessen Blanc 1948 uit de kelder waren gehaald - zelf had hij deze jaargang nooit geproefd. De avond waar al deze bijzondere flessen werden ontkurkt was het jaarlijkse diner van de Académie du Vin de Bordeaux.

Het thema die avond: wijnen uit jaren eindigend op 8. Dus dronken we bij het eten achtereenvolgens Latour 1978, Mouton 1988, Lafite 1998, Haut-Brion 2008 en Yquem 2008, deels uit magnums en dubbele magnums. Het was een leerzame avond…

Bordeaux 2017 vorst slachtoffers

Het Bordeaux 2017 verslag komt eraan. Er wordt aan gewerkt. In de vorige posting noemde ik al de vorst die eind april 2017 heeft toegeslagen. Bij de volgende domeinen was de schade zo groot dat de wijnen niet en-primeur zullen worden aangeboden.

• Côte de Baleau 2017 • Dassault 2017 • Larmande 2017 • La Tour Figeac 2017 • Montviel 2017 • Siaurac & Plaisir de Siaurac 2017 • Doisy Védrines 2017 • Nairac 2017 • Brun 2017 • Clos du Jaugueyron 2017 • Chantegrive Blanc & Rouge 2017 • Fieuzal Blanc & Rouge 2017 • Fleur de Boüard 2017 • Fugue de Nénin 2017 • La Pointe 2017 • Mauvesin Barton 2017 • Retout Blanc 2017 • Bolaire 2017 • Arsac 2017 • Camensac 2017 • Climens 2017 • Fleur Cardinale 2017 • Fonbel 2017 • Haut Bergey Blanc & Rouge 2017 • Laroze 2017 • Chauvin 2017 • Marjosse Rouge 2017 • Mille Roses 2017 • Arums de Lagrange 2017 • Corbin 2017 • Gironville 2017 • Grand Corbin 2017 • Grand Corbin Despagne 2017 • Chante Alouette 2017 • Des Annereaux 2017
Van sommige wijnen …