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Online Wine Shop  >  Wines by grower - alphabetical  >  Domaine Saint Sylvestre - Larzac

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Domaine Saint Sylvestre
Domaine Saint Sylvestre
I'm not quite sure how it was that I came to hear about Domaine Saint Sylvestre, although I have a feeling it may have been via their Facebook page. In any event, my interest was suitably piqued by the information I found and the images of their vineyards, scattered amongst the wild, oak-covered hills of the Terrasses du Larzac, near the village of Puechabon, ,just a few kilometres north-east of Aniane. This area is historically one of the real hotbeds of Languedoc fine winemaking, with such esteemed growers as Mas de Daumas Gassac, Domaine de La Grange des Pères and Domaine de Montcalmès all situated close by. Indeed, until 2010, most of the Saint Sylvestre vineyards formed part of the Montcalmès estate.

Vincent Guizard became involved in viticulture from an early age, working in the vines with his grandfather. In the late 1990's, he worked for a couple of vintages with Olivier Jullien at Mas Jullien in Montpeyroux. From 2003 to 2010, he was part owner, in association with Frédéric Pourtalié, of Domaine de Montcalmès. But at the end of 2010, Vincent decided to break away from Montcalmès, taking his 7 hectares of vines and creating Domaine Saint Sylvestre, together with his wife Sophie.

The Saint Sylvestre estate currently comprises around 8 hectares, in four separate plots, set in the wooded hillsides above Puéchabon, surrounding the 12th century church of Saint Sylvestre des Brousses de Montcalmès; "Fon de La Coste" is mainly Syrah, planted in 1989 on clay/limestone soil, with a north-west-facing aspect. "Saint Sylvestre" was planted in 1993, with Syrah and Grenache, on south-east-facing slopes, with a "topsoil" of galets roulés (similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape). The largest plot, "Défriche de Rouges" (défriche meaning cleared forest), with a similar aspect and terroir, was planted by Vincent between 2000 and 2003, and comprises Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. It is worth noting that the wines resulting from each of these three plots are markedly different, providing a compelling argument for the concept(s) of microclimate and terroir - not to mention complexity in the final blend. And finally, "Défriche de Blancs", comprising Chardonnay, Roussanne and Marsanne, was planted in 2007, with an east-facing aspect, on limestone soil.

Although not officially organic or biodynamic, Vincent and Sophie prefer a sympathetic approach to viticulture, along the lines of "Lutte Raisonnée" (the reasoned struggle) and no synthetic fertilisers or herbicides are used in the vineyards. All of the work in the vineyards is done by hand, and they keep the yields very low (around 20 hl/ha) by way of de-budding and green harvesting. Fermentation is completely reliant on indigenous wild yeasts. For the red wines, each grape variety, from each plot, is vinified separately, with long cuvaisons of between 30 and 40 days, then aged separately for 2 years in used barrels (i.e. which have seen one or more previous vintages) before being blended 3 months prior to bottling. For the whites, each grape variety is pressed separately, with the resulting juice being blended and then fermented and aged in used barrels for one year. Bottling is carried out according to the phases of the moon. For an extensive report on our June 2013 visit to Domaine Saint Sylvestre, see the Leon Stolarski Blog.


Following the split from Domaine de Montcalmès, the first vintage Vincent and Sophie made together was 2011. And in the short space of time since then, their wines have rapidly gained something of a cult following amongst the cavistes of France. So much so that we have had to wait almost a year before we could get our hands on any at all (and then, just a few cases)! But now that we finally have our proverbial foot in the door, hopefully we can manage to secure more wines (perhaps even the whole range) in the forthcoming years. Meanwhile, these two beauties will have to do.......

Domaine Saint Sylvestre Blanc 2012 Languedoc
Saint Sylvestre Blanc 2012
Vintage
2012
Region Terrasses du Larzac, 25 km north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry white - full bodied, fermented/aged in barrel 12 months
Grapes 45% Marsanne, 45% Roussanne, 10% Viognier
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Chicken, fish with rich sauces, veal, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Excellent now, but will age for 5 to 10 years
A gorgeous, limpid, translucent pale gold colour. The nose is wonderfully complex, heavy with the scents of herbs, spices and stony minerality, at the same time exhibiting myriad aromas of apple and peach, mint, honeysuckle and fennel, with subtle notes of spring blossom and lime oil peeping through. The palate has a rich, creamy, almost oily texture, which is perfectly offset by juicy peach and apple flavours, a rasp of cut lime, garrigue herb and spice, whilst the heightened, limey acidity and intense core of minerality makes for an explosively refreshing, yet considerably complex wine. The flavours last an age on the finish, revealing extra layers of complexity and sensation as they do so. It is a shame we could only secure a handful of cases - and even then, we had to beg and plead - for this is without doubt one of the finest Languedoc whites we have ever tasted. A quite faultless and very special wine.
Rated 18/20 in Le Guide Bettane et Desseauve des Vins de France.

 

Price:  £18.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine Saint Sylvestre Blanc 2013 Languedoc
Saint Sylvestre Blanc 2013
Vintage
2013
Region Terrasses du Larzac, 25 km north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry white - full bodied, fermented/aged in barrel 12 months
Grapes 45% Marsanne, 45% Roussanne, 10% Viognier
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Chicken, fish with rich sauces, veal, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Excellent now, but will age for 5 to 10 years
This is grown (fairly) high up in the hills of the Terrasses du Larzac, 30 or so km north-west of Montpellier, where the nights are a little cooler and the growing season a couple of weeks longer than further south. If anything, this is even finer and more elegant than the fabulous 2012, in a northern Rhône-meets-Burgundy sort of way. A lovely pale/medium gold colour with green glints. It has a considerably complex nose that exhibits all manner of white fruit, honeysuckle/floral and herb aromas, whilst the palate is the epitome of restrained power - peachy, appley fruit flavours, laced with honey and lemon, a gently oily texture, a modicum of grape tannin, ample acidity and just a hint of warming spice on one long finish. This really is top, top winemaking, and more than a match for more expensive Northern Rhônes. Drink now, or age for another 5 to 10 years. Lovely wine.
 

Price:  £18.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Saint Sylvestre Blanc 2014 Languedoc
Saint Sylvestre Blanc 2014
Vintage
2014
Region Terrasses du Larzac, 25 km north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry white - full bodied, fermented/aged in barrel 12 months
Grapes 45% Marsanne, 45% Roussanne, 10% Viognier
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Chicken, fish with rich sauces, veal, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Excellent now, but will age for 5 to 10 years
This is grown (fairly) high up in the hills of the Terrasses du Larzac, 30 or so km north-west of Montpellier, where the nights are a little cooler and the growing season a couple of weeks longer than further south. Fermented and aged 12 months in barrel, it exhibits a gorgeously complex nose of apples and citrus, orange blossom, spring flowers and a lick of judicious oak. The palate offers juicy peach and apple flavours, with a touch of soft citrus, a hint of peppery spice and a lightly nutty/waxy texture, with a gentle richness offset by a touch of grape tannin and fabulous acidity. A really lovely wine, and for a top Languedoc white, worth every penny.
 

Price:  £18.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine Saint Sylvestre Rouge 2011 Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac
Saint Sylvestre Rouge 2011
Vintage
2011
Region Terrasses du Larzac, 25 km north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in barrel for 24 months
Grapes 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
15.0%
Food Grilled or roasted red meats, game, charcuterie
Next day
Even better
Drink Can be drunk now, but will age for 10+ years
A deep, semi-opaque colour, with a powerful nose - a complex and heady array of black fruits, fresh bread and exotic spice aromas, with notes of leather and woodsmoke lurking in the background. Even after a full 2 years in barrel, there is just the merest hint of (older) oak, which only serves to heighten the fruit aromas, whilst further nuances of preserved fruits and fine eau de vie emerging with air. The palate is deeply concentrated and crammed full of flavour, in a spiced, baked fruit kind of way - rich, warming and almost a meal in itself. It is certainly good now, but is really only just starting out on a long journey of evolution - I'd say 10-plus years to maturity - with just the right levels of juicy acidity and rich tannins. Young, but with a great future ahead of it.
 

Price:  £18.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine Saint Sylvestre Rouge 2012 Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac
Vintage
2012
Region Terrasses du Larzac, 25 km north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in barrel for 24 months
Grapes 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Grilled or roasted red meats, game, charcuterie
Next day
Even better
Drink Can be drunk now, but will age for 10+ years
Lovely clear bright cherry red colour. Super-complex on the nose, with masses of herb-tinged raspberry and soused cherry fruit aromas, mingled with notes of damp earth, leather and woodsmoke. The palate is fresh, vibrant and full of rich, lively, sweet-edged red and black fruit flavours and - even at the advertised 14.5% abv - supremely balanced and elegant, with a backbone of very fine tannins and excellent acidity. There's also an earthiness and just a hint of savouriness to counter the intensity of the fruit. The finish is fruit-filled, elegant and long. This really is a wonderful example of cool-climate Languedoc red wine - and a classic in the making.
 

Price:  £18.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Domaine Saint Sylvestre Rouge 2013 Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac
Saint Sylvestre Rouge 2013
Vintage
2013
Region Terrasses du Larzac, 25 km north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in barrel for 24 months
Grapes 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Grilled or roasted red meats, game, charcuterie
Next day
Even better
Drink Can be drunk now, but will age for 10+ years
Bright cherry red in colour, the nose offers a lovely mix of raspberry, cherry and blackberry fruit aromas and flavours, with hints of forest floor, spice, eau de vie and a lick of oak. Gently grippy and peppery/spicy/earthy on the palate, it is certainly on the young side (this note written July 2016) but has real breed, and will age beautifully for a good few years yet. Mainly Syrah, with a splash of Grenache and a touch of Mourvedre, it is a classic, old-style, cool-climate Languedoc red, full of restrained power and southern charm, with a long finish. Another wonderful example of cool-climate wine, from one of the rising stars of Languedoc.
 

Price:  £18.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


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Minimum order value, delivery charges, times and restrictions
We deliver only to UK and Northern Ireland addresses. The minimum order value is £75 (plus the delivery charge). You may of course choose a mix of any wines in our range. Orders between £75 and £200: delivery charge is £7.50. Orders over £200: delivery is free! (If your order is over £200, please remember to change the delivery charge in checkout to £0.00). Please note: Delivery to non-mainland addresses (Scottish Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, etc.) is usually possible, but may not be on a next-working-day basis. It is also more expensive than delivery to mainland addresses, so will be charged at cost (for orders under £200) but with a small discount for orders over £200 - please call us for a quote.

Warning - you must be aged 18 or over
It is an offence to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol if you are under the age of 18. (Section 149 Licensing Act 2003).We reserve the right to seek proof of age. Leon Stolarski says "drink less, but drink better!" Please consume alcohol in moderation.