Grapes at Domaine Leduc-Frouin

ripening grapes in the Loire

ripening grapes in the Loire





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Minervois la Lavinière wines

I am almost ashamed to admit that I had not tasted a wine from the Minervois la Lavinière Appellation before – and yet it was created in 1985. It is admittedly a very small area around the village of la Lavinière (11 Aude, Languedoc) in the hills above most of the rest of the Minervois appellation (see map).
The wines of Minervois are very likeable – for many years we imported the wines of Chateau Gibalaux-Bonnet at Laure-Minervois – all decent wines – especially the Cuvée Prieuré. A typical Languedoc blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan (percentages depending on the cuvée) for the reds – pleasant refreshing dry whites and some rosé.
However, that did not prepare me for the sheer intensity of the red Minervois la Lavinière AC from Domaine Piccinini – Cuvée Line et Laetitia 2002 – a gorgeously concentrated mouthful, full of rich ripe fruit and structure – Syrah (40%), Grenache Noir (20%), Mourvèdre (40%) – and yet without excessive tannin.
As a small appellation (only a handful of producers) they seriously guard the quality of the wines, both by some strict controls on the blend and yield, but also insisting on 15 months ageing before going on sale, and with 3 tastings before being granted the Appellation label. The vineyards are on the higher land and benefit from good sun during the day alternating with cool nights – all on pretty poor soils with low rainfall, so the roots have to dig deep to get water.

The occasion was a tasting of wines from the Languedoc which I provided for a branch of the Yorkshire Sommeliers – a network of serious wine tasting groups in Yorkshire. I had chosen the wines from Pic Wines, for 2 reasons:-
1) I am somewhat confused by the plethora of appellations in the Languedoc, and doubt whether in a blind tasting I could easily idenitfy a Minervois from a Corbières or a Coteaux du Languedoc. – and I suspect the quality of the producer is more important than the appellation. And
2) Pic Wines operate differently from traditional wine merchants (or even internet wine merchants) in that they are based in the region and ship direct from the Languedoc to your door – i.e. they have no physical UK presence.
Well, the tasting probably proved my first point, as there were some stunning wines in the selection, but probably not necessarily typical of their appellations. On the second point, the quality of the wines was excellent (as was the service and delivery) – and by checking with other suppliers, the prices of those wines which are available elsewhere in the UK were on the whole no more expensive from Pic Wines (indeed some were slightly cheaper). Plus delivery charges are very reasonable (£5 for a case of 12 or more).

For more on Domaine Piccinini see the slightly deranged website at www.domaine-piccinini.com or the more informative (and in English) website for Pic Wines.
And a comment from Pic Wines:-
“Jean Christophe Piccinini was born and bred in La Livinière in a winemaking family. He set up his own cellar in 1990, two years after the creation of the AOC Minervois La Livinière, after winemaking studies in Montpellier and stints of winemaking in Canada and Hungary. We have been fans of his wines for some years now, but only got to meet J-C at the Vinisud wine fair held in February 2006. Slightly reserved and a touch intimidating to begin with, Jean Christophe is a straight-talking, generous character with a passion for making great wine. We were impressed by the consistent quality of his wines across the board..”

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