David 23 April 2015
Warm, generous reds… that’s what I feel like right now. So here are three from Château de La Négly, one of the best estates in Languedoc, southwest France. Come in out of the rain and hunker down with one of these.
Although this property has been in existence for several centuries, the château was built in the 18th century and named Nerly in 1781. In 1807 its name was changed to Négly and since then several families have owned the estate. But it was Jean-Paul Rosset’s purchase of Négly, from his mother in 1992 that began its ascent to “finest wine in the Languedoc.”
Prior to this the family sold their grapes to the local co-operative. But
Jean-Paul wanted to realise the domaine’s potential. He engaged famed oenologist Claude Gros as well as winemaker Didier Lacreux. In the vineyard they selectively replanted vines, restricted yields and moved to more sustainable agriculture using fewer chemicals. The winery and cellars were extensively renovated with an emphasis on cleanliness and quality control. Today, the wines of Château de la Négly are Languedoc benchmarks.
The estate has 50ha of vines in the stunningly beautiful appellation of La Clape. Within the increasingly complex classification system of Languedoc, La Clape is designated as one of only 10 Grand Cru and produces both excellent red and white wines.
Négly lies about 20km northeast of Narbonne: the estate’s vineyards sitting on prime chalky terroir within sight of the Mediterranean. Although this is one of France’s sunniest enclaves, the Tramontane, a dry strong wind from the north, tempers the heat, creating larger diurnal temperature variations than further inland. This makes for a long growing season, allowing Château de la Négly to make rich and powerful wines which maintain their freshness.
“While all of their wines lean towards the full-bodied, decadent end of the spectrum, they possess fabulous, singular bouquets as well as balanced, seamless and even elegant profiles on the palate.” Jeb Dunnuck, eRobertParker #212, April 2014.
Négly makes several red, rosé and white wines but it’s red I’m after today. Here are three I think you’ll like.
1. Château de la Négly ‘La Côte’ 2012
A blend of 50% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre & 10% Syrah, the fruit for this wine is handpicked from the estate’s vineyard from 15-30 year old vines. Interestingly the Carignan was vinified using carbonic maceration, where fermentation takes place within the uncrushed grapes in a sealed carbon dioxide rich environment. This technique is usually associated with the production of Beaujolais and tends to enhance the fruit aromatics while giving softer tannins. The rest of the blend was traditionally fermented with yeast, crushed grapes and skin contact. This portion was aged in oak.
The wine is fresh, juicy, and round. A deft balance of aromatic, delicious sweet fruit with savouriness and spice - very Rhône-like and very drinkable. You’ll find blueberries, dried herbs and liquorice. Mid-weight, but has generous soft, silky tannins and a lovely long finish.
“Fabulously ripe fruit here, while retaining classic French savoury earth character. Beautiful - they have really got the best out of Carignan! Sweet chocolate. Lovely length. Sophisticated but unassuming. Lovely spicy pepper on the finish.”17+ Jancis Robinson MW (a very good score from her).
“Fresh, elegant and beautifully textured, with medium-bodied richness and depth, it offers pretty notes of creme de cassis, raspberry, licorice and spice to go with a delicious, easy-drinking feel. Aged half in oak tanks and half in concrete, it should drink nicely for 3-4 years.”
88-90 Points, Jeb Dunnuck, eRobertParker #212 (a great score for a wine of this price).
It’s not around town much, but you will find it at France-Soir Restaurant in Melbourne for $60 a bottle. Wonderful drinking for any night of the week.
I can offer it for $27 a bottle. SOLD OUT.
2. Château de la Négly ‘L’Ancely’ 2008
This wine is 85% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache & 5% Syrah which has been handpicked from 60-year-old vines on the estate, followed by meticulous grape-by-grape sorting in the winery. It’s then given a long ferment of 60 days, using natural yeasts in conical wooden fermenters, after which the wine spends over 20 months in demi-muids (600L oak barrels), one third of which are new.
This is rich and powerful, and 15% alcohol, yet has finesse.
“From a cooler year, the 2008 Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape L’Ancely offers ample, gamey Mourvedre flair with bloody meat, underbrush, garrigue and chocolaty dark fruits all emerging on the nose. Beautifully complex, it has full-bodied richness and depth on the palate, with a seamless profile that’s aging at a glacial pace. Classically structured and fresh, it will continue to evolve gracefully through 2028.”
94 Points, Jeb Dunnuck, eRobertParker #212.
“Posh oak and gorgeously succulent fruit - a real sophisticated, developed, tasty style with loads of complexity. Fantastic.”18 points, Jancis Robinson.
It gets better. The winemaker reckons this “needs several years of ageing to develop its full aromatic potential.”
I can offer it for $135 a bottle (limited) SOLD OUT - Check availability
3. Château de la Négly ‘Le Clos des Truffiers’ 2010
This is 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache from a single tiny yielding plot planted in 1962 in the highlands about 50km northeast of the estate. The fruit is handpicked and driven back to the estate in a refrigerated truck, where it undergoes a drastic grape-by-grape selection process. A 45-day ferment, in wooden conical fermenters, is followed by 2 years in barrel. It’s 15% alcohol.
“More exotic, with a saline-like minerality giving lift to cassis, olive tapenade and tobacco-like nuances, the 2010 Coteaux du Languedoc Clos des Truffiers is another stunning Syrah that does just about everything right. Full-bodied, seamless, elegant and with polished, fine tannin, it can be enjoyed anytime over the coming 10-12 years.
…one of the greatest expressions of Syrah from France.
…incredible wines that I wish every reader could taste. Don’t miss a chance to latch onto a bottle if you can!”
97 Points, Jeb Dunnuck, eRobertParker #212.
What can I add to a note like this? What a wine.
I can offer it for $250 a bottle (extremely limited) SOLD OUT - Check availability