Perman Wine Selections Friday Feature – 4/8/11

Hello and Happy Friday!

I’ve been waiting for this day for a while!

As many of you know last year I took a “business” trip to France, Italy and Spain to visit wineries and meet with the owners and winemakers behind them. Many of the producers I visited I have worked with in the past, and many are feature in the store today.

A few small producers that I visited did not have distribution in Illinois, or even the Midwest for that matter. Yet the wines from some of these producers were so good, that I had to go through the elaborative process of having them “direct imported” for my store. Illinois has strict laws that make sure that all wines go through a distributor. I used a logistics company that holds the appropriate licenses to ship them for me. They have been shipped in refrigerated trucks and containers the whole way.

I am very excited to introduce you to some of these “Perman Wine Selections.” As a whole they represent small, family-run wineries that are doing things “the right way.” These are anything but no-name wineries, as each is regarded as one of the best in their respective region.

When you buy one of these wines, you are supporting an artisan product – a wine reflective of where it comes from, made by people that care, and most importantly they are delicious!

Today I take you on a journey to the Languedoc region of the South of France. The fantastic wines of Domaine La Madura are something you need to know about!

Cheers,
Craig

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DOMAINE LA MADURA

Cyril and Nadia Bourgne started their estate in the appellation of Saint-Chinian in 1998.

St.-Chinian is located in the Western Languedoc, Northwest of the village of Béziers. There are 20 villages within the appellation boundaries. When speaking with Cyril I asked him what differentiated St.-Chinian from neighboring appellations like Minervois? “The diversity of terroirs and mainly types of soil. It’s the only appellation with so much diversity (schist, limestone-clay and sandstone)” he said.

Domaine La Madura is composed of 13 hectares of vines in the appellation and an additional 1 hectare of Vin de Pays white.

Four wines are made, a white wine and red under the “Classic” label and a white and red under the “Grand Vin” label. The white wines are made from Sauvignon, not a permitted varietal in St.-Chinian, planted in high elevation vineyards. The reds are blends of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan.

The health of the vineyards and the environment are of the utmost importance at Domaine La Madura. Here, the world Ecology is talked about because the feeling is that the organic charter doesn’t address all the work that should be done in the vineyards. Eating berries with Cyril straight out of the vineyard last summer showed me that this is a family that lives off the vineyard and would never pollute it!

The cellar of La Madura is anything but fancy, more a functional winery that allows for different vinification techniques for the white and red wines. It is always refreshing to see that great wine can also be made in humble surroundings.

You are going to love these wines! The Domaine La Madura wines have so much soul. They are a reflection of the integrity of the vineyard work and winemaking. They have a thumbprint of aromatic complexity, and overall balance. Each wine is delicious from the moment you purchase it, while the Grand Vin wines will be come even more complex with bottle age.

The exciting part of this direct important journey is that you get to try something new, something complex, and all will really work at the table. The only difficult part is that these wines are limited, and once they are gone, well, you will have to wait for the next vintage.

Finally, if you want to learn even more about these wines, Cyril and Nadia built an excellent English language website that will provide you with all the details. I also am happy to talk about them endlessly!

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2010 DOMAINE LA MADURA “CLASSIC” BLANC

Sauvignon Blanc in Saint-Chinian? I asked Cyril if this was native to the area. “It is not traditional in the region. Our vines were planted by an Australian négociant who wanted to buy some grapes from the former owner. We didn’t buy the vineyard for that but it was amazing for me to vinify Sauvignon after having done that for 9 years in Bordeaux. Luckily the vines had been planted in the right place ( 230 meters high and on limestone and clay) to have freshness easily – this is very important for me.

The “Classic” Blanc is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. With a gentle pressing in the winery, the grapes are fermented in tank. They are matured on their lees in stainless steel tank.

A very complex and gulp-able bottle of Sauvignon. Not overtly citrusy, more subdued with some citrus and pear notes, hints at white flowers and mineral. One thing you will notice about all of these wines is that they have depth without being heavy. Warmer weather will be coming, and you don’t want to miss this tremendous value!

$16.99 BTL. / $101.94 SIX-PACK CASE

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2009 DOMAINE LA MADURA “GRAND VIN” BLANC

The “Grand Vin” white wine is made from a selection of grapes that are gently pressed, racked and fermented in a mixture of 50% new barrels, and 50% second use barrels. The maturation is in oak, with some lees stirring.

I would love to put this into a blind tasting with some more expensive White Bordeaux. The style of this has a foot in Graves, a foot in Meursault, and I guess that leaves two hands to go into the Languedoc.

It is a rich style of Sauvignon Blanc, with amazing aromatic complexity. I decanted a bottle recently and tasted over the course of a day. Aromas ranged – with notes of flowers, pineapple skin, pear, apricot, toasted hazelnuts, mineral and honey. On the palate it is rich but fresh, with lingering notes of citrus and stone fruits along with a hint of butterscotch.

I am a tough critic of over-oaked wines, and I can vouch for how well this integrates everything into a complex package.

This will go with a wide range of foods. Richer shellfish courses, chicken with mushrooms, cows milk cheeses and much more. This is an insanely good value for this quality!

$27.99 BTL. / $167.94 SIX-PACK CASE

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2006 DOMAINE LA MADURA “CLASSIC” ROUGE

Cyril, what do you like about working with Rhône varietals as opposed to working with Bordeaux varietals in the past? “For me it is important to work with local and traditional varieties (Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre) of Languedoc. They give the typicity of our wines.”

The reds of St.-Chinian are never going to be biggest of the bunch of the Languedoc. The cooling breezes of the region coming down from the mountains bringing freshness to the wines. That is certainly on display in the “Classic” red.

This wine is a blend of 33% Grenache, 37% Carignan, 16% Mourvèdre, and 14% Syrah. The fermentation for the grapes is done in concrete tanks. The maturation for the Grenache and Carignan continues in these vessels while the other grapes are matured in barrel.

Strolling through the vineyards of La Madura, taking a deep breathe to remember the smell of the local plants and herbs, it all comes back to me when I drink this wine. You hear the term garrigue a lot in the South of France, and this has that St.-Chinian garrigue.

Just a delicious and easy to drink red, filled with bright red berry fruits, that aforementioned spice note, and a long, delicate finish. For those thinking they will be knocked over with fruit, this is not that style. It is subtle, elegant and delicious.

This is going to be a red to drink throughout the spring and summer, as it will work with a wide range of grilled meats, including lamb. It is also delicious on its own!

$17.99 BTL. / $107.94 SIX-PACK CASE

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2006 DOMAINE LA MADURA “GRAND VIN” ROUGE

This is a very special wine, definitely one of the top red wines of the Saint-Chinian appellation!

Cyril blends 42% Syrah with 34% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache and 10% Carignan. His multitude of different vineyards allows him to have some of these varietals planted in different soil types. Part of what makes Domaine La Madura and this wine special is the ability of Cyril to blend for complexity by using so many different vineyard plots.

Traditional vinification with 4 to 6 weeks of fermentation time. The Malolactic fermentation is in barrel and maturing is done on the lees in barrel.

When you smell a glass of this next to the Classic red you notice the step up in the intensity of the fruit. Here you smell a mixture of dark and red fruits, lots of complex herbs like wild thyme and lavender, and spice from the Syrah and Mourvèdre.

You certainly can decant this now and drink with meats like Squab and Duck. It can also be laid down for a decade in a cellar for an even bigger aromatic explosion.

One of the real gems of the Languedoc, and an exceptional bargain given its complexity.

$32.99 BTL. / $197.94 SIX-PACK CASE

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