An Englishman in Minervois

Domaine d’Albas – Coteaux de Periac – 2017- Grape Opportunities £10.99  

Nestled in the vast Amphitheatre that is the appellation of Minervois, lies a jewel in it’s already burgeoning crown, Chateau St Jaques d’Albas. Tucked discreetly between the Montagne Noir and the Canal du Midi, this fully renovated historical Chateau is owned by Graham Nutter. Purchased in 2001, a full restoration project was undertaken, unearthing a rich history of the area, including Cathar and Roman links.

Grahams Philosophy has always been to “make wine respecting the natural environment, while applying modern techniques to allow the ‘Terroir’ to express itself.”

The estate is proud to support the “Cousine Principle” which naturally stimulates the vines immune system. With organic and environmentally sympathetic spraying and soil care,this Domaine is something of a curiosity.

I visited during September – usually a very busy period, Vendange is in full swing and the harvesting and pressing of the new fruit takes absolute priority. However, I was made to feel nothing but welcome by Graham and his team. Graham’s passion for his Chateau simply surrounds everything, he exudes a mild-mannered air of determination, calm and confidence, it’s clear that this Domaine is quite different to others in the area. With a wonderful tour complete and a brief history of the area including facts on the renovation and a tour of the recently completed renovation of a 13th Century chapel,I had worked up quite a thirst…time for a quick slurp.

The Domaine Produces eight Cuveé, although today I am focussing on just one, the others will of course follow.

So, Domaine d’Albas Blanc, a marriage of Viognier and Vermentino, vinified in thermos-regulated steel tanks. Viognier seems to get a bit of a hard time nowadays, out of favour and often misunderstood, this grape when treated correctly produces excellent wines, displaying almost nectar like qualities. Vermentino similarly is a particularly tricky grape to master, often producing wines closed and lacking in expression.

It’s no surprise then that this example is excellent, displaying everything I had hoped, on the nose the attractive aromatic citrus notes of the Vermentino are present with seductive undertones of apricot and blossom, reflective of Viognier. On the pallet it’s balanced and poised, with the initial attaque, one of measured acidity and fresh mouth filling texture. First comes the Citrus, with a delicate note of lemon zest, this is quickly followed by stone fruit and honey, lingering long on the pallet and finishing with a beautiful fresh burst of acidity, and floral undertone. Excellent.

Thanks, must go once again to Graham and his team who have produced a wine that is perfectly representative of the Terroir. Care and attention have produced a wine that delivers on all levels and reignites my passion both for the area and for the chosen varieties, all too often these wines can be clumsy and underwhelming. Not so here, certainly a favourite of mine and worthy of more than Just a Quick Slurp. Bon Weekend!

This wine and others all reflective of the terroir and producers are available from www.grapeopportunities.com

If you are interested in purchasing any or for a list of wines available, please email info@grapeopportunities.com

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