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Organic wines at Millésime Bio

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

We were (Per was) recently at the organic wine show in Montpellier: Millésime Bio. It is a wine fair that is quite different from many others. First, of course, since there are only organic wines there (well…. there were also some almost-organic wines, in “conversion”). But also because there are no traditional show stands. Every exhibitor gets a table and the size of the table is the same for everyone, so it has a certain democratic feel about it. It also avoids you having to wade through masses of utterly uninteresting, but gigantic, stands before you get to the interesting stuff. And interesting stuff there is. Obviously, not all organic wine is quality, or even good wine, but you do find quite a lot of interesting producers at Millesime Bio. I’d say that the ration of interesting to uninteresting is probably higher here than at most other fairs, disregarding if you are specifically interested in “bio” (the French for organic) or not. It is as much an occasion to discover new things as it is to say hello to old acquaintances. Here are some of the noteworthy rencontres this year:

-- Terre des Chardons – a biodynamic (sometimes very biodynamic) southern Rhône producer in the Costières
-- Domaine de la Crois Senaillet – in Burgundy / Maconnais making mineral chardonnays, including one that is made entirely in the curious egg-shaped concrete tanks
-- Domaine Freyburg – in Alsace, affordable whites, doing comparative trials with biodynamism
-- Chateau de Gaure – Limoux and Le Tour de France, some interesting (and curious) cuvees
-- Domaine Boucabeille – Roussillon with powerful wines
-- Alain Chabanon – confirmed talent in Languedoc, very unusual merlot (!) among many other things
-- Clos de l’Anhel – young and ambitioius domaine in Languedoc
-- Jean-Babtiste Senat – a refugee Parisian with elegant yet powerful reds
-- Daniel le Conte de Floris – a refugee journalist turned winemaker turned wine bar host (Pézenas) with wines with impossible names (but worth the while)
-- Mas des Agrunelles – a young couple running three different (MdA, Mas Nicot and Dom. la Marelle) small family properties with great talent
-- Henri Milan – veteran Provence producer near Aix
-- Chateau Haut Garrigue – a young Irish couple settled in Bergerac
-- Domaine Pialentou – a half-Swedish producer in Gaillac who’s made great strides over the last decade
-- Domaine Tour des Vidaux – a German producer in Provence with a really, really big beard
-- Domaine Pithon-Paillé – Loire winemaker revived like the Phenix making serious whites and some reds
-- Manoir de la Tête Rouge – some off-dry entry level wines and some more serious wines too
-- Domaine Virgile Joly – newish Languedoc (Montpeyroux) producer including a cuvée said to be “the Jura of the Languedoc”
-- Domaine Chateau de la Selve – a very young couple in the unlikely place of Ardèche
-- Domaine Paire – making some serious Beaujolais and some lovely-named but defunct Bourgogne Grande Ordinaire
-- Chateau Pech-Latt – a very reliable source for a good Languedoc bottle
-- Domaine Grand Guilhem – at the very far end of the Languedoc with lovely wines and lovely chambres d’hôtes
-- Domaine Zelige-Caravent – a start-up Pic Saint Loup producer making e.g. Zazou à Zanzibar. Do keep it up!
-- Cascina Corte – an Italian producer of Piedmont wines with unusually good volume
-- Domaine de la Croix Vanel – making excellent Languedoc terroir wines
-- Domaine Turner-Pageot – a start-up Australian-French family venture with great ambitions
-- Domaine Coston – will be making wines from the land that Robert Mondavi was not allowed to buy some years back (not their fault!)
-- Domaine Costeplan – making some lightish and fruity white and some more substantial reds


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