Clos Bagatelle, Les Trois Louloutes Cinsault Rouge, AOP St Chinian, Languedoc, France, 2017
The winery has produced wine for four centuries with a balance of rigour and humour, appropriately enough as the word 'bagatelle' means an acrobatic trick. This ying-yang attitude continues today with siblings Christine and Luc Deleuze creating a well crafted double act that leads to an agreeable overall minimal interventionist approach. This all means the wines from Clos Bagatelle are full of character and express the land from which they come. They are now working towards the goal of achieving biodynamic status.
This ancient grape variety was a major casualty of the rip-up/vine-pull programme which swept through many wine regions of Europe 30-40 years ago as part of a too simplistic bureaucratic EU attempt to reduce over-production, particularly in the south of France - as well as in very many parts of Spain and Italy too. Uniquely this parcel is completely surrounded by the bush of the garrigue - it is 'un véritable petit jardin clos par les plantes' - ' a little garden of vines amid the wild bush. Vines date from post-war plantings in the late forties and early fifities - so circa 70 years old! When cropped at low yields, such as here at Clos Bagatelle on rare and precious mineral schist soils, Cinsault can be one of the most charmingly perfumed of red grape varieties, whilst retaining its olde-worlde flesh in its sinews. The winery favours organic fertilizers during the growing season and avoids the use of weed killers. All grapes are picked by hand.
The whole vintage is hand picked but only partially de-stemmed. Traditionally fermented in the 'cuvaison' method (keeping the fermented wine in contact with the skins) lasting around 2 weeks. Once racked off the skins and the residual 'marc', the wine is wintered and briefly matured in concrete tanks before bottling (concrete is not only traditional but is making a telling comeback for the maturation of red wines, both in France and in the New World).
No oak treatment.
Quite possibly one of the best Cinsaults we have tasted in a long time, and the rarity of being a 100% pure Cinsault so something quite special here. The palate is so sweet-ripe and luscious, the temptation to swallow when tasting is often too inviting. A "friendly" wine, easy to enjoy, interesting but not overwrought in complexity: a rewarding pleasure in the glass.
Perfect for Rabbit à la Provençale, duckling or grilled lamb.