January in France

A new year has arrived, and with a new year come new commitments, resolutions, hopes and expectations… Unless of course you’re me, in which case the new year just turns up on your door step, heaves a cart full of adventure on your newly swept floor and then gets the hell out of there.

But I digress.

The real reason I’m writing is because – being stuck in the back seat of a BMW headed for Gascony from the coastal town of Perpignan – I have jack shit to do. The day before yesterday I met early with a few select sommeliers at Gardemoen Airport, yawning and stretching yet ready for a four day trip through a January bleak Rousillon and Gascony. Our first stop was at Chateau de Brau, producer of AOP Cabardés wines.

Chateau de Brau is a small family owned estate run by a charming middle aged couple. Their vineyards lie strewn around the winery in Villemoustaussou and are surrounded by natural borders like gatherings of trees or small brooks on all sides. Geographically the valley in which they lie are a continuation of the Minervois region – a hallway between Bordeaux and Narbonne if you will.

The couple overtook the winery in 1982, when all that was there where a few extremely dirty cement tanks and a some relatively run-down vineyards. They at once started nursing the vineyards back to health, as well as renovating the cement and installing new steel tanks. 1989 they were one of the first wineries to be certified organic by the E.U. union, and till today they still work as naturally as possible in the vineyard.

Chateau de Braus  range includes a amongst others a series of AOP Carbardés wines. Even though the name Cabardés has medieval routes it is actually one of the youngest appellations in France, having been created in 1999. It is quite unique in that it allows producers to blend Mediterranean grapes such as Syrah and Grenache with Atlantic grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Apart from this Chateau de Brau also produces several single grape wines with such rarities as Fer Servadou and Egiodola.

The wines were generally quite good and above all ridiculously cheap. Especially the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Franc show plump rich fruit and a pleasing palate in 2013. A new year should start with new experiences, and what better than o experience a completely new AOP?

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