As is now my custom I took the Eurostar from London and then the TGV from Paris arriving in Montpellier just after 5.30 pm. Plenty of time to settle into my hotel – Colisée-Verdun, very close to the station.
That evening following a friend’s recommendation at Sicilia, a busy, popular and well-run Italian pizzeria and restaurant in the old part of Montpellier. I enjoyed a starter of grilled vegetables and then an escalope milanese cooked in a Sicilian style with pasta Stromboli, which needed the powerful Pic St Loup that I had ordered.
2014 Haut-Lirou, Pic Saint-Loup
On Sunday I took a long relaxed walk through the older parts of Montpellier – carefully avoiding the souless Antigone area. There was a striking contrast between the lively Arab quarter of Figuerolles where most of the shops were open, a bustling street market piled high with oranges, aubergines etc. along with crowds of men clustered around the cafés and the quiet of the old quarter above the Place de la Comédie.
In the early evening it was off to the now well established Outsiders’s tasting where I met up with Michel Smith. This tasting is always interesting although this year I found a number of the reds just too heavy, tannic and lacking finesse for the moment. Amongst my favourites were a 100% Mauzac and 100% Chenin from Château Rives-Blanques, Limoux. I also liked their delicately sweet 2012 Lagremac d’Aur, which was picked in the first week of November. This was one of the rare years when they had botrytis.
Michel hard @work
Caryl Panman – Château Rives-Blanques
Once we had finished tasting we dropped down the road to Amuse Vin, a friendly wine bar with an interesting list of wines and some OK food. We started with the weighty 2014 Cuvée Tradition, Coteaux du Languedoc from Mas Brunet – a blend of Roussanne, Vermentino and Viognier.
We then moved onto a couple of reds: 2014 La Pierre Plantée, Saint-Chinian, Les Eminades. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the second one, so will have to add the details later. We must have been chatting too much!
All in all an excellent and relaxed preparation for Millésime Bio, which has now grown to around 900 producers and there is still a waiting list, which suggests that organic wine is still in fairly rude health.
Loire echoes from Millésime Bio
Antoine Foucault will take over Clos Rougeard
Romain Guibeteau told me that following the very sad death of Charly Foucault right at the end of last year, Nady wants to hand over to Antoine, Charly and Françoise’s son, as soon as possible and retire while assisting Antoine. Romain explained that for Nady Rougeard was always he and Charly together and now it is not the same to run Clos Rougeard by himself.
Muscadet sur Chardonnay?
Apparently there is a move to widen the choice of grapes to make Muscadet. Vincent Caillé tells me that the reason it is taking so long to finalise the four additional Cru Communaux is that the whole Muscadet dossier is being looked at again. Some of the large négociant firms want to be able to make Muscadet not just from Melon de Bourgogne but from other grapes like Colombard, Sauvignon, Chardonnay etc to make Muscadet more aromatic and easier to shift large volumes through the supermarkets at low prices.
The irony is that after years in the wilderness Muscadet is now becoming more appreciated for its current quality and value. As it stands there is nothing to stop producers selling blend of Melon de Bourgogne with other more aromatic varieties and sell it as an IGP or Vin de France. No need to bastardise the Muscadet appellation!
Next week more on Millésime Bio