Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bancroft takes to the Languedoc with Domaine de Mus, Domaine de l’Hortus and Viranel

New recruit Ben McVeigh-Whitaker reports...

Bancroft's Ben, Mike, and Jason with Camilla from the Somerset Wine Company, Toby Webster from Black Dog Wines, Phil Innes from Loki Wines in Birmingham, Nick Underwood and William Mason.

Last week, Bancroft visited the Languedoc with 5 lucky customers to visit three of our producers and witness the harvest in action. It is always a treat to go and visit the wineries, see the terroir and meet the people behind the wines. But to see the harvest in action was very exciting. There is a sense of excitement all around, with picker in the vineyards, tractors and vineyard machinery buzzing around the country lanes, fully ripe grapes everywhere you look, and a great sense of anticipation in the air!

Domaine de Mus

Domaine de Mus
At Domaine de Mus we were greeted by Brice and Katrina, who showed us around the lovely Domaine. There are some wonderful buildings, including an 18th century Chateaux, and a very well-restored chapel.  Although they do plan to renovate the chateaux at some point, all the development and renovation is mainly going on in the winery. There was lots of action in the cellar where we tasted Brice’s 2015 Sauvignon that had just finished fermenting, and saw some of the younger Syrah bubbling away. The former Orangery now functions as the tasting room, and it is a wonderful setting to get to know the wines of the Domaine. We learnt a new term, “vin de terrasse” which describes perfectly the crisp Cabrials Rose, which was a treat on such a scorching day. As the tasting went on it became clear that all the wines made at Domaine de Mus are seriously good value.

The Orangerie at Domaine de Mus

Vines at Domaine de l'Hortus

Domaine de l’Hortus
After an alfresco lunch, we drove over to the Pic St Loup appellation to visit Domaine de l’Hortus. The winery here is very impressive, with many of the team remarking that it looked like something out of James Bond! We jumped into a couple of defenders to drive up and to have a look over the Pic St Loup terroir, which is simply stunning, sandwiched in between the Montagne de l’Hortus and the Montagne Pic St Loup.  The vines spread out as if in a natural amphitheatre, with different altitudes and soil composition contributing the complexity of the terroir. Yves took us round the winery and gave a wonderful tour, including tastings of different stages of the white wine fermentations. It was clear from the visit that Yves and his family take a lot of care in making these wines. There is serious attention to detail evident in the wine making here and this contributes to some absolutely stunning wines.

Mike looking active at Domaine de l'Hortus
The brand new state of the art winery at Domaine de l'Hortus

We finished our trip with a visit to Viranel. Arnaud and Nico are the brothers behind this Domaine, inheriting the duties from their father. We were shown round the vineyard and the different terroirs by Arnuad. The highlight was the 80 year old vineyard of Alicante Bouschet planted by his father. These grapes go into the Aromes Sauvages, a terrifically deep, dark and complex wine.  We saw the Alicante grapes being harvested, de-stemmed and crushed which was a first for many in the team. We all agreed to buy a bottle of the Aromes Sauvages 2015 to check the results! All the reds here are vinified in concrete, Nico said this results in the best natural temperature control for the red wines. His father has been doing this for decades, long before the current fashion. We finished with a wonderful barbeque prepared by the whole Bergasse family and enjoyed a tasting of the wines along with the whole family. It really was a pleasure to share their superb wines and food with the whole family.

Lunching with Viranel and Arnaud and Nico's parents too

Arnaud showing us the size of his... vineyards.
Many thanks to all of the marvellous producers for being so generous with their time during such a busy period. Until next time!

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