Having just heard the rain clattering off our tin roof, the sun is shining once again and temperatures are heading up towards the high twenties in Solihull. Pity those in the south of France where they're basking in 33°C to 38°C this week. All those rays soaking into the vineyards around Saint-Drézéry and Pic Saint Loup in the Languedoc, just north of the metropolitan city of Montpellier. Ask Nostradamus, he would have seen it coming!
Mind you, if you want ripe fruit to make great wine, you're going to need a lot of sunshine and the Occitanie receives its fair share. Grenache and Cinsault grape varieties are major players in this region of the Mediterranean and, similar to Provence, their food friendly, rosé wines are gaining favour with the great British drinking public. What better than sipping a glass of chilled pink in a seaside restaurant? I know the answer to that one... a chilled bottle of rosé. It's all part of the healthy "Mediterranean Diet". Lots of fish and vegetables work perfectly with a "moderate" intake of wine, so all the articles say. You're even allowed cheese with red wine!
Situated at the eastern end of the Languedoc, Chateau Puech-Haut was originally just wild "Garrigue" scrubland and olive groves until it was discovered by Gerard Bru who realised the potential of the land as a vineyard. Established in 2000, the vineyards now cover over 100 hectares, but the estate, itself, covers twice that area.
The soil, based on limestone with "Galets Roulés" (pebbles), is very similar to that of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the grapes for the red wines use mainly blends of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault. Look out for Quercus (Grenache), Clos du Pic (Mourvedre/Syrah), Bosc Negre (mostly Mourvedre), The 40th (Syrah/Grenache) and Recantou (Syrah). These outstanding biodynamic red wines are made in tiny quantities from very low yield vines producing a hedonistic style and are rarely seen outside of the region. To accomplish the required high standards, Gerard Bru has brought in various consultants including Michel Rolland, Claude Gros and Philippe Cambie who have all constantly improved the wines' reputation. He is definitely succeeding in his aim to be a producer of some of the best wines from the Languedoc!
The range below these ultra rare bottlings is called Tête de Bélier and a red, white & rosé are produced under this label. With yields of only 25hl/ha, these are concentrated, but elegant wines with notes of smoke, garrigue, herbs and black cherry fruit for the red; a smoky, stone fruit, barrel fermented white (Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne) and a strawberry scented rosé made predominately from Mourvedre.
The "entry level" Cuvée Prestige range are all 90+ point rated wines and none receive any oak fermentation or ageing with the use of either concrete tanks or stainless steel being the chosen method of production to highlight the plush, gorgeous fruit.
Most recent additions to the property's wines are the Argali bottlings in their unique, flat sided bottles. Sourcing fruit from across the Pays d'Oc, these offer a hint of what Puech-Haut can achieve at a moderate price level.
The red is a blend of tank fermented Syrah, Grenache and Merlot with notes of raspberry and blackcurrant fruits; the white has Vermentino, Sauvignon and Muscat giving a floral style with crisp acidity; the Grenache/Cinsault based rosé (currently the only Puech-Haut wine which Frazier's lists) is as pale as any rosé from further east in Provence, with a completely dry palate of red berries, stone fruits and tangy grapefruit which makes it a perfect summer wine to accompany salads, grilled fish and Mediterranean vegetarian dishes.
Buy some here for £18.99/bottle.
Gerard Bru also owns the Chateau Lavabre property in Pic Saint-Loup and Domaine de Theyron in Saint-Christol.
I nearly forgot to mention the art!
Art on the walls, art on the wine barrels and even on their BIB (bag in barrel) wines.
Clever idea. Great wines.