Leon Stolarski Fine Wines
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Prieuré Sainte Marie d'Albas 4 Saisons 2010 Corbières
Prieure Sainte Marie d'Albas 4 Saisons 2010
Vintage
2010
Region Corbieres - Moux, between Carcassonne and Narbonne
Colour/Style Dry red - medium bodied. 
Grapes 40% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 30% Syrah
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red or white meats, pizza, herby/tomatoey pasta dishes
Next day
Good - stays nice and fresh
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Intense, deep purple colour, with real aromatic complexity - a melange of summer pudding fruits, garrigue herbs, cumin and coriander, with hints of roses, violets and leather. On the palate, it is soft, easy drinking, yet nicely concentrated, with a great mouthful of fresh summer fruit flavours, ample acidity and a just the right level of tannic grip. Stylistically, this isn't too far removed from a rather good Cru Beaujolais - in other words, gloriously fruity, but with a little southern warmth thrown-in for good measure. Lovely wine!
 

Price:  £9.79 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Prieuré Sainte Marie d'Albas Terre Rouge 2009 Corbières
Prieure Sainte Marie d'Albas Terre Rouge 2009
Vintage
2009
Region Corbieres - Moux, between Carcassonne and Narbonne
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied. 
Grapes 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Beef, lamb, game, mushroom dishes
Next day
Still good - maybe even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
A deep, intense, glossy purple colour. Another complex nose, displaying aromas of ripe red fruits, crushed blackcurrants, with hints of garrigue herbs, crushed pepper, spices, roasted meats and light mineral notes. There's a hint of clotted cream, too, along with a gentle whiff of fine eau de vie. Indeed, it has a similar aromatic profile to a rather good Chateauneuf! The palate is marked by a breadth of generous spiced black cherry and bramble fruit, with hints of meat and savoury herbs. Supple tannins and refreshing soft citrus-tinged acidity combine to add a sweet and sour quality.  A long, spicy finish completes the package, in a wine chock full of southern character.
 

Price:  £11.75 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Minervois & La Liviniere
A.O.C Minervois & Minervois La Liviniere
MinervoisOf all the more established A.O.C's in the Languedoc (created in 1985) Minervois is arguably the one that has made the greatest progress in establishing a reputation for fine wines. Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault are the traditional varieties, but Syrah  is now much more predominant, with Mourvedre also used occasionally. Though the Minervois possesses a variety of different landscapes and "terroirs", with subtle differences in style, the best wines are always elegant and well-balanced, characterised by soft berry fruit flavours, liquorice and violets. The Minervois La Liviniere "cru" is a more recent creation that requires (broadly speaking) lower yields, more selective (usually higher) vineyard sites, greater emphasis on Syrah and longer ageing (often in barrel).
Jancis Robinson wrote in Wine Spectator – November 1996......
"Perhaps the single most exciting wine development I've witnessed this decade has been the transformation of the Languedoc from biggest (boo) to hottest (hooray) wine region in the world… for seriously exciting, terroir-laden, characterful, supple wines (mainly but by no means exclusively red)....."



Domaine La Combe Blanche Calamiac Terroir 2010 Minervois
Combe Blanche Minervois 2010
Vintage
2010
Region Minervois, north-east of Carcassonne
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied
Grapes Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Red meats, game, cheese, pizza.
Next day
Better still
Drink Now or over the next 3 to 5 years
Guy Vanlancker never fails to make delicious wines, even at the "lower" end of the scale, and this is a classic example of his craft. Fairly deep in colour, with a tiny rim, but a surprisingly elegant and enticing nose - bags of plum and bramble fruit, with something richer and darker like toffee or dried figs, but also a hint of balancing orange freshness. A distinct whiff of aromatic garrigue herbs and a touch of black olive tapenade add savoury elements to what - at this price level - is really quite a complex wine. The palate too has plenty of succulent red and black fruit flavours, again with a hint of toffee and fig, balanced by ripe, supple tannins and ample acidity. This really is quite a contemplative wine - the sort that has you sticking your nose in the glass and keeps you coming back for another drop or two. And how many wines at well under a tenner can do that, these days? Textbook Minervois.
 

Price:  £8.90 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine La Combe Blanche La Galine 2010 Minervois La Livinière
Domaine La Combe Blanche La Galine 2010
Vintage
2010

Region Minervois La Liviniere, north-east of Carcassonne
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, part aged in old(er) oak
Grapes 50% Syrah, plus Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Duck, game, steak, lamb, chicken
Next day
Still good
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 10 years
Deep purple core with a dark ruby rim. Highly aromatic, with multi-layered black cherry, bramble and raspberry aromas, accompanied by damp earth and subtle hints of flowers, older oak, savoury and spice. Full-bodied and ripe, it possesses more than a little complexity and real elegance, with a multitude of fresh red and black fruit flavours, infused with garrigue herbs and again a touch of earthiness. A combination of supple tannins and juicy, orange-tinged acidity makes for a delightful sweet and sour quality. The finish is long, spicy and worthy of contemplation. The Syrah element is aged for 18 months in old(ish) oak barrels, whilst the other varieties are aged in vat. With such wonderful raw materials, it doesn't need to be dressed up in a cloak of new oak. And at this price, it really is a steal. You can drink it now, with pleasure, but it should also age nicely for a good few years yet.
 

Price:  £11.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine La Combe Blanche La Chandeliere 2009 Minervois La Livinière
Combe Blanche La Chandeliere 2009
Vintage
2009
Region Minervois La Liviniere, north-east of Carcassonne
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied. 18 months in old oak barrels
Grapes 75% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 10% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
15.0%
Food Fillet steak, roast beef or lamb, game
Next day
Even better - takes a full 2 days to open out
Drink Very approachable now, will evolve over next 10 years
A deep, blood red colour, with a narrow ruby rim. Bramble, red cherries and figs in abundance, with further notes of truffle, spices, herbs and polished leather - a very complex nose indeed. Whilst the flavours are at first rich and intense, with extremely ripe fruit flavours, this wine never loses its focus. Concentrated it may be (and at 15% abv, at the top end of the alcohol scale) but it is also beautifully balanced, with ripe tannins and ample acidity. On day 1, it is intensely spicy, warm and grippy, but never disjointed. By day 2 (or even day 3) it is an absolute joy and everything really does come together - fresh as a daisy, with a captivating nose and full of tangy, dark, fruit pie flavours, slightly earthy (though not particularly savoury), herby, with a touch of licorice on the long, sweet and sour finish. It is a completely brilliant expression of Languedoc Syrah and Grenache, with little or no oak influence to get in the way of such glorious fruit. If ever there was a red wine which you should decant a couple of days before drinking, then this is it. And if you do that - or if you age it for another 5 to 10 years - you will be richly rewarded.
Now sold out - a new vintage will arrive Autumn 2014.

 

Price:  £14.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Domaine La Combe Blanche La Chandeliere 2001 Minervois La Livinière
Domaine La Combe Blanche La Chandeliere 2001 table
Vintage
2001

Region Minervois La Liviniere, north-east of Carcassonne
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied. 18 months in oak barrels
Grapes 75% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 10% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Fillet steak, roast beef or lamb, game
Next day
Still improving
Drink Excellent now, but will evolve for another 5 to 10 years
No, it isn't a typing error - this really is the 2001 vintage. Some of our more long-standing customers will remember that we first listed this wine a good few years ago, before moving onto the 2004 vintage and latterly the 2009. But it turns out that winemaker Guy Vanlancker held back a couple of vats of 2001 for later release - and finally, here it is! Here is a resumé of my original tasting note, written in 2007...... "Deep purple colour, showing a complex nose of bramble and black cherry fruit, with notes of cedar, freshly-dyed leather and mocha. Rich, tarry black fruits abound, with fine, chocolatey tannins and pronounced acidity. A wine of great structure and finesse that is only just starting to hit its stride." And here's my updated note on this (recently bottled) new batch......... Still evolving, with aromas and flavours of crystallised red and black fruits and cherries in fine eau de vie. Some nice forest floor and old wood aromas have developed, but apart from that it really does seem quite youthful, fresh and full of life, with perhaps another 5 to 10 years of evolution - possibly even more. If ever there was a wine which proves that Languedoc reds can age beautifully, then this is it. A brilliant wine - and brilliant value for money!
 

Price:  £15.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

OUT OF STOCK


Saint-Chinian
Saint-Chinian
Situated some way to the north-west of Béziers, on the fringes of the Haut Languedoc mountains, the vineyards of Saint-Chinian produce wines of great elegance and structure. Syrah, Grenache and Carignan are the main varieties used. These beautiful wines are characterised by soft berry fruits, infused with the scents and flavours of the hillside “garrigue” – typically violets, herbs and black olives. Chateau La Dournie is situated on the outskirts of the town of Saint-Chinian, with a large house and courtyard, set amongst the vineyards. The Guide Hachette describes the wines thus; "Continuity is assured with this sixth generation taking the reins at La Dournie, with these magnificent cuvées, by way of confirmation." The wines are distinctly refreshing, yet complex, and seem to conjure up that mysterious word "terroir", with a distinct regional style that could hardly be from anywhere else in the world.

Chateau La Dournie Etienne 2009 Saint-Chinian
La Dournie Etienne 2009
Vintage
2009
Region Saint-Chinian, north-west of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red, aged for 10 months in oak barrels
Grapes 50% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 25% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Roast red meats, vegetable and pasta dishes, game
Next day
Still fresh
Drink Over the next 5 to 8 years
Medium-deep, semi-transluscent blood red colour with a narrow rim. As is almost to be expected with La Dournie's wines, the nose is a riot of raspberry, black cherry, black olive and garrigue herbs, with floral notes suggesting violets and lilies and a distinctly high-toned minerality. Absolutely classic schiste-grown Saint-Chinian and supremely elegant. The flavours are intense and subtle in equal measures, with a palate crammed full of those wonderful, minerally, fruity and herby Syrah characteristics. The Grenache contributes a touch of softness, whilst the Carignan adds grip and a welcome touch of rusticity, but the Syrah really is the dominant player in this wine. There's a touch of spice and herb, but the fruit takes centre stage, in a wine that simply oozes character and class - an effortless combination of restrained power and elegance. This is drinking beautifully already, but is sure to age gracefully for at least another 5 to 8 years.
 

Price:  £11.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Chateau La Dournie Elise 2008 Saint-Chinian
La Dournie Elise 2008
Vintage
2008

Region Saint-Chinian, north-west of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red, partly aged in new oak barrels, the rest in vat
Grapes 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache (50 year old vines)
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Venison, roast beef, lamb, pork, cheese
Next day
Lovely
Drink Over the next 5 to 10 years
A  deep, blackberry-coloured core with a tiny carmine rim. As with previous vintages of this wine, the nose is wonderfully fragrant and considerably complex, offering aromas of  fresh plums, bramble and black cherry, along with that unmistakable hallmark of Syrah grown on the schiste-based Saint-Chinian terroir - garrigue herbs, lilies, violets, black olives and a strong mineral influence. The palate is subtle and balanced, rather than overtly rich, with spice and herb-infused (though not too sweet) bramble, redcurrant and cherry fruit wrapped in a blanket of fine, silky tannins. And you can really taste the earthy, stony minerality, which - in combination with really juicy acidity - provides a firm backbone for the fruit. Add to that the ultra-fine tannins and you have a wine that, although very approachable now, has the capacity to age and evolve gracefully for another 5 to 10 years. Another gloriously elegant wine from this, one of (if not the) greatest estates in the appellation.
 

Price:  £14.75 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Chateau La Dournie Elise 2009 Saint-Chinian
La Dournie Elise 2009
Vintage
2009

Region Saint-Chinian, north-west of Béziers
Colour/Style Dry red, partly aged in new oak barrels, the rest in vat
Grapes 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache (50 year old vines)
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Venison, roast beef, lamb, pork, cheese
Next day
Lovely
Drink Over the next 5 to 10 years
A  deep-ish cherry red core with a narrow rim. Again, a wonderfully fragrant and complex nose, with black cherry, bramble and orange aromas to the fore, and myriad notes of garrigue herbs, lilies, violets and subtle spice. In fact, the floral aromas continue to intensify in the glass and grow in complexity, with faint oak and forest floor/truffle nuances also peeping through. The palate is again subtle, balanced and supremely refined, with fresh bramble, redcurrant and red cherry fruits, earth, a touch of savoury/spice and excellent levels of acidity and fine tannins. When I forst tasted this in February 2012 (just before it was bottled) it seemed very fruit forward and in need of plenty of time to develop that classic Saint-Chinian minerality and perfume. But now, after a few months in bottle, it has really settled down nicely and is almost approachable, though it certainly has the capacity to evolve beautifully over the next 10 years. Another brilliant and gloriously elegant wine.
 

Price:  £14.75 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Cébène Belle Lurette 2011 Faugères
Domaine de Cebene Belle Lurette 2011
Vintage
2011
Region Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied, aged in steel vats
Grapes 70% Carignan, plus Grenache and Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Char-grilled red meats, duck, grilled vegetables
Next day
Even better
Drink Can be drunk now, but will age nicely for 5+ years
Brigitte Chevalier's newest cuvée, made predominantly from ancient Carignan vines grown on schiste, at around 300 metres above sea level. Whole bunch fermentation and a complete lack of oak influence is the order of the day here. It simply reeks of garrigue herbs, schiste soil minerality and a whole bucketful of red and black berries and currants, with further notes of soft citrus, polished leather and violets peeping through after a few minutes. The palate has plenty of concentration, whilst at the same time exhibiting an array of delicate, high-toned fruit and garrigue herb flavours. The tannins are grippy but fine and meld beautifully with the mix of sweet, sour and succulent fruit flavours. Subtle hints of spices and cool mint add yet more elegance and complexity. This is such a lovely wine, it is hard to resist now, but definitely has the structure for medium-term ageing. A brilliant wine and yet another reason to love old-vine Carignan!
Now sold out - the 2012 vintage will arrive October 2014.

 

Price:  £14.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Domaine de Cébène Les Bancèls 2011 Faugères
Domaine de Cebene Les Bancels 2011
Vintage
2011
Region Faugères
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied
Grapes Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Red meats, game, mushroom risotto
Next day
Even better - improves for days
Drink Can be drunk now, but will age nicely for 5 to 8 years
A glorious perfume of bramble, raspbery and redcurrant steeped in eau de vie, with notes of oregano and cinnamon, leather and polished wood. The palate is truly expressive, with warming spice and savoury/herby flavours mingling with red and black fruits, fine tannins and excellent acidity. The result is a wine of great complexity, combining fruit, savoury, sweet and sour in a rich, even powerful, yet deceptively elegant and feminine wine. Another lovely wine from Brigitte Chevalier, with excellent potential for development.
 

Price:  £15.25 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de Cébène Felgaria 2010 Faugères
Domaine de Cebene Felgaria 2010
Vintage
2010
Region Faugeres
Colour/Style Dry red - medium/full bodied
Grapes 50% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Red meats, game, duck, tuna carpaccio, risotto
Next day
Even better - you really need to give it 24 hours!
Drink Can be drunk now, but will age nicely for 10+ years
This is Brigitte Chevalier's top cuvée - and it is a stunner. Quite a deep blood/carmine colour, with a narrow rim, it is a wine that needs plenty of air before drinking. Not that it is unapproachable to begin with - in fact, quite the opposite, since it seems initially quite light and delicate, with relatively soft tannins and gentle red fruits, with very subtle hints of garrigue herbs and soft spices. But give it a full 24 hours in the decanter and the transformation is quite remarkable - those delicate aromas become powerful and serious, with bramble and blackcurrant mingled with high-toned black cherry and seville orange, myriad herbs and exotic spices, blood/meat, new leather and a lick of really classy oak. In the mouth, it is medium-rich and full of ripe fruit flavours, yet at the same time utterly mouth-watering, with amazing freshness and vitality (even after 2 or 3 days), supple tannins and fresh, orangey acidity. The finish is spicy, zesty and long. Whilst I won't offend Burgundy aficionados by comparing it with a classy 1er Cru from the Cotes de Nuits, I would venture that it is a truly lovely wine, which has the quietly-spoken Brigitte Chevalier's stamp of femininity all over it. It caresses rather than gropes, and those with the patience to wait for it to reveal its full charms will be richly rewarded. Let's be honest, for a Languedoc wine, it isn't cheap.......... but Faugères does not get any better than this. In fact, Languedoc wine of any description rarely gets any better.
 

Price:  £25.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Costieres de Nimes
Costières de Nimes
A large, low-lying plateau, situated between the city of Nîmes and the west bank of the Rhône. Just to the south lies the Carmargue and the Mediterranean, and the climate is therefore extremely pleasant (except for when it is just too hot, or when the cold, dry Mistral decides to blow)! The large stones or "galets roulés", which are a feature of the soil in this region, were washed down the Rhône valley from the Alps in prehistoric times, and the terroir is therefore very similar to Chateauneuf du Pape (a little further up the valley). These stones reflect the heat of the sun during the day yet retain the warmth during the night, providing excellent ripening conditions. Being wedged between the vineyards of the Rhône to the north and east, and the Coteaux du Languedoc to the west, the wines of Costieres de Nimes lie not only geographically, but also stylistically somewhere between the two. Syrah and Grenache are the mainstays, with Mourvedre also becoming more popular. The wines of Costieres de Nîmes are very underrated, and certainly deserve to be better known. 

Terre des Chardons Bien Luné 2012 Costières de Nimes
Terre des Chardons Bien Lune 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Costières de Nimes
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
12.5%
Food Grilled meats, stews, game, cheese
Next day
Best on day 1, but holds up well overnight
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
This is so fresh, so intensely aromatic - it simply reeks of violets and lilies, damsons and cassis. Indeed, if you didn't know better, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in the northern Rhône! The palate is one of real contradictions - wonderfully fresh, elegant and airy, but at the same time intense, concentrated and considerably complex. A core of ripe, tangy red berry fruits, black cherry, a lick of blackcurrant and a gentle herbaceous streak, married to ripe tannins and mouth-watering acidity, make for something really rather special. When I first tasted this wine, I was amazed to find that it contained any Grenache at all, for it smells and tastes for all the world like a pure Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage or even Hermitage - it really is that good. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear that it spends no time in oak whatsoever - indeed, none of the wines from this estate do - which allows the fruit to express itself to the full. And the best thing about it is that it is so good to drink now, despite its obvious age-worthiness. Wonderful wine. Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £11.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre des Chardons Bien Luné 2013 Costières de Nimes
Terre des Chardons Bien Lune 2013
Vintage
2013

Region Costières de Nimes
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
12.5%
Food Grilled meats, stews, game, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
As with the 2012, this latest vintage is intensely aromatic and bursting with youthful exhuberance. Aromas of leather and damp earth mingle with all manner of mineral and citrus, not to mention a veritable pot pourri of red and black fruits, violets and black olive. The palate combines all of those wonderful fruit and floral elements with notes of soft spice and white pepper, countered by hints of savoury black tapenade and beef, a core of fine tannin and really juicy acidity - again, positively northern Rhone in style. Being so young (bottled in February 2014) it will certainly benefit from a few months more in bottle, but it really is deliciously drinkable from the off. How can a wine at this price point pack so much aroma and flavour? Who knows, but it really is a stunning bargain! Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £11.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre des Chardons Marginal 2012 Costières de Nimes
Terre des Chardons Marginal 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Costières de Nimes
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
12.5%
Food Roast beef or lamb, duck, game, cheese
Next day
Best on day 1, but holds up well overnight
Drink Now, or over the next 8 to 10 years
Initially a touch closed, with dark, smoky, mineral, citrus peel and tobacco notes. It opens-out nicely after a few minutes, revealing complex aromas of cassis, raspberry, cherry, black olive and lilies. As with its "Bien Luné" sibling above, it manages to be both delicate and light on its feet, yet possessed of a core of rich, concentrated black fruits and soft citrus, with subtle flavours of tapenade, garrigue herbs and warm curry spices (perhaps courtesy of the Grenache element, which shows a little more in this cuvée). Once again, the velvety tannins and ample acidity combine with all of that wonderful fruit (and no oak, remember) to give real definition and focus, all the way through to a very long finish. Another superb wine, from one of the star estates of the future. Certified organic and biodynamic - and voted the best Languedoc red at the 2013 "Signature Bio" competition.
 

Price:  £13.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre des Chardons Chardon-Marie 2012 Costières de Nimes
Terre de Chardons Chardon Marie 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Costières de Nimes
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in vat
Grapes 100% Syrah
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Rack of lamb, rib of beef, feathered game, cheese
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 10+ years
This is the estate's top red wine, named in honour of winemaker Jerome Chardon's grandmother, Marie (Chardon-Marie is also the French name for milk thistle, hence the label design and the play on words). It comes from the best parcel of Syrah vines - and it shows. The nose simply reeks of all manner of red and dark fruits, especially raspberry, blackcurrant and red cherry, with complex floral and savoury undertones such as violets, black olive tapenade and just a hint of meat/leather. There's no oak, remember, but a wine as good as this doesn't need oak. It is so clean, so fresh, so full of life and youthful vigour, with a palate crammed full of concentrated fruit and herb flavours. There's an intriguing touch of saline minerality, countered by a cool, almost minty quality, whilst velvet tannins and a rasp of gloriously prickly acidity make for a supremely balanced and deceptively elegant wine. The finish is delightfully sweet and sour - and very long. This is very much in the Northern Rhone style of winemaking, and - whilst unbelievably good to drink already - has the capacity to age and evolve into something even more beautiful, over the next 5 to 10 years. A very special wine, which (for me) sets a new benchmark for the appellation. Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £18.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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AOC Languedoc
A.O.C Coteaux du Languedoc
AOC Languedoc The AOC Languedoc appellation was introduced in 2007, as a replacement for Coteaux du Languedoc. Presumably, this was in an attempt to make the rather complicated hierarchy of AOC's in this huge wine region easier for consumers to understand. Admittedly, the old system probably was a little confusing for the uninitiated, though simple enough, once you got your head around it. Frankly, though, I'm not sure an awful lot has changed - and it certainly won't be any easier for people who didn't understand the old system! Basically, AOC Languedoc covers the parts of Languedoc and - even more confusingly - Roussillon that do not have the benefit of their own distinctive local AOC (Saint-Chinian, Faugeres, Minervois, for instance). Within the AOC Languedoc, there are various sub-regional AOC's (namely Grès de Montpellier, Pézénas, Sommières, La Clape, Pic Saint-Loup, Terrasses du Larzac, Picpoul de Pinet, Terrasses de Béziers, Montpeyroux and Saint-Georges d’Orques) whose names can be appended to the Languedoc AOC. The confusion doesn't end there, though. For instance, the Saint Georges d'Orques AOC actually lies within the Grès de Montpellier region, whilst Saint Saturnin (which doesn't seem to get a mention in the new rules) is very definitely a recognised sub-regional AOC falling within the Terrasses du Larzac - a sub-reion of a sub-region, if you like. Confused? I'm not surprised, as I am now a little confused myself!. 

Not that we want to get too caught up in the regional hierarchy, or pyramid, but the wines from these sub-regions - or "terroirs", as they used to be called - can (and very often do) offer-up some very distinct regional characteristics. Which certainly gives some credence to the way they are designated - even if the new system only serves to confuse matters even more! And there are many styles of wine being made, depending on the terroir and the choice of grape varieties. The main grapes for the red wines are Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault, with Mourvedre also becoming more predominant. And as well as many wonderful independent growers, this is an area blessed with a good number of top-quality co-operatves, notably Les Vignerons de La Carignano in Gabian and the fantastic Coteaux de Neffies. We have tasted wines from Neffies over many years, and the standard is extremely high. We also have some lovely wines from Domaine d'Archimbaud in Saint-Saturnin, one of the most northerly villages in the Languedoc region, producing "cool climate" wines of great complexity and elegance. Whilst very approachable when young, they have the structure to age and improve for several years. Domaine Monplezy, situated just to the north of Pézenas also makes some delicious wines - and they are organic. The most recent additions to our list are some brilliant Pic Saint-Loup wines Mas Foulaquier, a small domaine situated in the north of the appellation, plus a range of equally brilliant wines from Domaine de La Marfée, another top quality small grower, situated just to the west of Montpellier. What is more, both of these growers are biodynamic.

Along with the better known (or at least better understood) appellations of Languedoc - such as the afore-mentioned
Saint-Chinian, Faugeres, Minervois, et al - AOC Languedoc, in all its various guises - is now producing some of the best wines in southern France (and, in our opinion, the world). Try some - you won't be disappointed.

Domaine Turner Pageot Le Rouge 2011 AOP Languedoc Pézenas
Turner Pageot Le Rouge 2011
Vintage
2011

Region Gabian, north of Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red, full-bodied, aged partly in barrel, partly in vat 
Grapes 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food All manner of lamb, beef, duck and mushroom dishes
Next day
Still fine
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
60% Grenache from schiste, 20% Grenache from other terroirs and 20% Syrah from volcanic basalt. The grapes go through an extended maceration on the skins, and the resulting wine is indeed deeply coloured, almost black/purple, with a tiny rim. The nose is pungent with ripe bramble and plum aromas, notes of bitter chocolate, curry spices and polished old wood. The palate shows plenty of extract, with rich, ripe, tea-like tannins and orange/lemon acidity. It is robust, but so ripe and full of fresh red and black fruit flavours, a pot-pourri of herbs and spices and not a little minerality, followed by a long, spicy, grippy finish. Lovely now, and should age nicely for a good few years. Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £13.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Turner Pageot Carmina Major 2010 Coteaux du Languedoc Pézenas
Turner Pageot Carmina Major 2010
Vintage
2010

Region Gabian, north of Pézenas
Colour/Style Dry red, full-bodied, aged 1 year in oak barrels
Grapes 70% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food All manner of lamb, beef, duck and mushroom dishes
Next day
Still fine
Drink Now, or over the next 8 to 10 years
70% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, aged for 1 year in wood, after an extended 3 month maceration. Dense, tarry and smoky on the nose, with rich bramble and plum flavours, opening out with notes of spices and herbs and bright, orangey acidity. This wine really opens out nicely with a few hours of air, revealing aromas of old wood, meat, curry spices and orange peel. The palate is certainly rich, ripe and extracted, but surprisingly elegant, with redcurrant, cherry and bramble fruit flavours combining beautifully with spices, herbs and salty, stony minerality, in a deliciously tangy, sweet-sour whole. A serious (and seriously good) wine, built to age, but surprisingly good to drink now. Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £15.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine d'Archimbaud Tradition 2009 Languedoc Saint-Saturnin
Domaine d'Archimbaud Tradition 2009
Vintage
2009
Region Saint-Saturnin, some way north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium to full bodied, aged in cuve
Grapes 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Grilled or roasted red meats, game
Next day
Still fine
Drink Over the next 5 to 8 years
What can I say about this grower (and this particular cuvée) that I haven't said before? It is smoky, tarry, meaty, herby, floral and wonderfully fruity all at the same time - a lot of complexity for the money! In fact, if one single wine epitomises all that is great about the red wines of Languedoc, then this might be it. With glorious aromas of blueberries and smoke, savoury but fresh and fruity, herby but with wonderful mineral depth. The palate is ripe and elegant, with tangy black fruits, soft citrus, rustic tannins and juicy acidity. With every element in perfect harmony, this is just lovely. Buy it.
 

Price:  £11.30 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine d'Archimbaud Tradition 2010 Coteaux du Languedoc Saint-Saturnin
Domaine d'Archimbaud Tradition 2010
Vintage
2010
Region Saint-Saturnin, some way north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium to full bodied, aged in cuve
Grapes 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Grilled or roasted red meats, game
Next day
Still fine
Drink Over the next 5 to 8 years
As a follow-on from the delightful 2009 (above) this shows much promise. There's a strong whiff of the garrigue and a nice hit of spice, with less in the way of tarry aromas, but a touch more meatiness. Not to mention an abundance of black cherry and bramble lurking in the background. Fruit, tannin and acidity are all in perfect balance, and all this needs now is a few more months in bottle, before it really begins to sing. Thereafter, it will age nicely for a good few years. Classy wine.
 

Price:  £11.30 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine d'Archimbaud l'Enfant Terrible 2011 - Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac
Domaine d'Archimbaud l'Enfant Terrible 2011
Vintage
2011
Region Saint-Saturnin, some way north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium to full bodied, aged in cuve
Grapes 60% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, 20% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Grilled or roasted red meats, spicy sausages, rich stews
Next day
Better still
Drink Over the next 5 to 8 years
The last vintage we had of this was the 2008, which on release was quite a big, beefy/savoury wine, which took a while but turned out beautifully. This one, however, is lovely from the start. The aromatic nose exhibits violets and red cherries, bramble and orange, herbs, spices and polished leather - a truly expressive and delightful perfume. There's even an unusual (and very welcome) note of caramelised apricot. It offers a really lovely mouthful of ripe, vibrant fruit and spice, with fine tannins and wonderful acidity. It is just so lovely to enjoy now, with some herby/spicy sausages, or to age for a few years, to let the gaminess develop. Either way, it is a real winner!
 

Price:  £14.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine d'Archimbaud La Robe du Pourpre 2010 - Languedoc Saint-Saturnin
Domaine d'Archimbaud Robe du Pourpre 2010
Vintage
2010
Region Saint-Saturnin, some way north-west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium bodied, aged in barrel for 11 months
Grapes 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.0%
Food Grilled or roasted red meats, game, charcuterie
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 10 years
One thing I have learned about the wines of Domaine d'Archimbaud is that they are never over-extracted or over-ripe. Elegance is the order of the day, and this one is a prime example. Bucket-loads of ripe, elegant red and black fruit aromas combine with notes of tobacco, cedar and spice, with an attractive meaty/spicy/herby quality. On the palate, the oak is already beginning to integrate, especially with air, whilst the bright, fresh, gently jammy fruit combines with elegant tannins and super acidity. It is nicely grippy and sweet-sour on the long finish. Lovely now, but with great promise for the medium-to-long term.
 

Price:  £14.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Foulaquier l'Orphée 2011 Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup
Mas Foulaquier l'Orphée 2011
Vintage
2011

Region Pic Saint-Loup, north-east of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to full bodied
Grapes 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Red and white meats, mediterranean vegetable dishes
Next day
Perhaps even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
Semi-translucsent, bright, deep cherry red colour. Fresh, ripe redcurrant, raspberry, cherry and bramble aromas mingle with notes of meat, new leather, garrigue herbs, curry spices and damp earth - all-in-all, a considerably complex and heady nose. The palate too is brimming with wonderfully ripe red and black fruit flavours, with a delicious bite of tart cherry skin and tangy orange, the effect of a seamless combination of ripe, tea-like tannins and juicy acidity. With air (and especially on day 2) it develops some rich fruitcake aromas and flavours, whilst still retaining freshness. There's also a savoury tang - not meaty, but more like a sun-dried tomato, vegetable and garrigue quality, which adds complexity without detracting from all of that wonderful sweet/sour/tangy fruit. There are wines that I occasionally flag-up as quintessential examples of fine Languedoc wine - and this is one of them. A simply glorious, fine, elegant wine - and I challenge you not to empty the bottle in one sitting! Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £15.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Foulaquier Les Tonillières 2012 Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup
Mas Foulaquier Les Tonillieres 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Pic Saint-Loup, north-east of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied, aged in vat.
Grapes 50% Carignan, 50% Syrah. 
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Red and white meats seasoned with herbs, pasta dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 3 to 5 years
Semi-transluscent, medium-deep carmine red, fading to a narrow rim. Only the press wine goes into barrel - the rest is aged in vat - but the grapes are first given a full 3 months' maceration at a cool temperature, which ensures good extract whilst retaining a good deal of elegance. The Carignan element is so expressive, you almost don't notice the Syrah - and when Carignan is this good, it is hard to beat. Fabulous aromas of pickled brambles and raspberries, with an amazing array of secondary nuances - notably, leather, cigar box, coffee grounds, beetroot and damp earth. Not to mention a delightful rasp of soft citrus-like volatile acidity, which makes your eyes water in the most glorious way (especially on day 2)! The flavours are so fresh and full of vitality, with an almost Musar-like structure, chock full of sweet and sour raspberry and black fruit flavours, with subtle hints of coffee and toffee. With air, it becomes even deeper, more expressive, more elegant, whilst retaining all of that wonderful freshness, complexity - and impressive length. A truly glorious wine, which every one of our customers (indeed any lover of fine Languedoc wine) should buy. It will age nicely, but why wait, when it is so wonderful now? Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £15.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Foulaquier Les Calades 2010 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup
Mas Foulaquier Les Calades 2010
Vintage
2010

Region Pic Saint-Loup, north-east of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied. Aged 24 months - partly in barrel.
Grapes 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Red meats, spicy Asian food, Mediterranean dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
With its aromas of dark red fruits, exotic spices, garrigue herbs, fine eau de vie, damp earth, leather and polished mahogany - a bit like an old church pew - this is one of the most complex wines (aromatically speaking) I have encountered in a long time. It really does caress the senses in a way that keeps you coming back for another sniff. And the palate certainly delivers, offering a hugely complex array of fruit, spice, herb and tertiary flavours. Richly-textured and almost velvety at first, you suddenly get this wonderful hit of dark cherry, bramble and orange-tinged fruit, a rasp of fine, tea-like tannin and simply mouth-watering acidity on the mid-palate, followed by a long, tangy, gently spicy finish that goes on forever. Fabulous wine! Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £19.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Mas Foulaquier Le Petit Duc 2011 Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup
Mas Foulaquier Le Petit Duc 2011
Vintage
2011

Region Pic Saint-Loup, north-east of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 18 months in oak foudres.
Grapes 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah. 
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.5%
Food Grilled meats, lamb tagine, oriental meat/vegetable dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 8 to 10 years
A lovely bright translucent cherry/blood red colour. The nose shows an intriguing leathery, meaty quality, though not at the expense of some really delightful raspberry, cherry and floral aromas, a hint of creaminess, toasted brioche and herbs - alluring, complex and elegant, rather than big and burly. Sort of what Chateauneuf would be like if its climate were a little gentler..... like that of Pic Saint-Loup! The palate too is elegance personified - a lovely warm, spicy, herb-laden mix of fresh and crystallised fruits with a gentle orangey tang, with subtle notes of redcurrant and cranberry, all of which combine in a delightfully fresh sweet and sour whole. Grower Pierre Jequier believes that his little corner of the Pic Saint-Loup terroir is the perfect spot for Grenache, and on this showing, who am I to disagree? This really is a lovely wine, which all fans of southern Rhône reds would do well to try. Certified organic and biodynamic.
 

Price:  £19.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine Saint Sylvestre Rouge 2011 AOP 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
New - tasting note to follow.
 

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

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Domaine de La Marfée Les Gamines 2009 Languedoc Saint Georges d'Orques
Domaine de La Marfee Les Gamines 2009
Vintage
2009

Region Saint Georges d'Orques, west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged 2 years in barrel. Biodynamic.
Grapes 50% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre and 10% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.6%
Food Grilled red meats, roasted vegetables, mushrooms risotto
Next day
As good, if not better
Drink Now, or over the next 5 to 8 years
Semi-opaque purple/red colour, fading to a narrow ruby rim. A mélange of black and red fruit aromas, notably blackcurrants and cherries steeped in eau de vie, infused with garrigue herbs, with enticing (old) woody aromas, with background notes of tobacco, cocoa and allspice. Not to mention, of course, the hallmark of pretty much every Marfée wine - aromatic blackcurrant leaf and elderflower. For a wine at this (by no means expensive) price point, it really does show remarkable complexity and allure. And the promise of all those glorious aromas shows through in the mouth, with intense blackcurrant and cherry flavours, grippy but fine-grained tannins and a healthy lick of acidity. The herby and spicy notes, combined with the lush fruit flavours and just a hint of bitter dark chocolate give this wine a sweet and sour quality - savoury, fruity and spicy all at the same time. It certainly gains weight with a few hours of air, but never loses focus, with fruit, acidity and tannin in equal measure. Lovely wine, which is approachable now, but thas the stuffing to age for 5 or even 10 years.
 

Price:  £13.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de La Marfée Della Francesca 2009 Languedoc Saint Georges d'Orques
Domaine de La Marfee Della Francesca 2009
Vintage
2009

Region Saint Georges d'Orques, west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied
Grapes 85% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.8%
Food Red meats, stews, game, duck
Next day
As good
Drink Now, or over the next 8 to 10 years
Semi-transluscent deep-ish purple colour with a narrow rim. Yet again, we have that wonderful trademark Marfée nose of blackcurrant leaf and fruit pastille, with hints of elderflower, polished wood, tobacco, spice, mint and a definite savoury/meaty element - not too much, mind, for the emphasis is definitely on the fruit. The palate again shows typical freshness, with citrussy acidity, grippy but fine tannins and tangy, sweet-and-sour flavours, courtesy of some intense plummy and brambly red and black fruit, again with a savoury/spicy/meaty/herby quality. The finish is very long, with those mouth-watering red/black fruits lingering for an age. This is mightily good to drink already, but will cellar well for a decade or more.
 

Price:  £17.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Domaine de La Marfée Les Champs Murmurés 2009 Languedoc Saint Georges d'Orques
Domaine de La Marfee Les Champs Murmures 2009
Vintage
2009

Region Saint Georges d'Orques, west of Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - medium-to-full bodied
Grapes Syrah and Mourvedre from very old vines
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Rib of beef, rich stews, game
Next day
As good, if not better
Drink Now, or over the next 10-plus years
Deep purple at the core, with a narrow ruby rim. This wine has a truly compelling nose, with dark fruits galore, mixed with herbs and spices, tobacco and polished wood. This is probably the most backward of all the Marfée reds, but may also be the most complex and complete. It is so tightly-knit and "together", with dark fruits, herbs and spices combining beautifully into a fruity, savoury whole. It is perhaps a touch closed, when compared to Les Vignes Qu'On Abat, but oh-so complex. Like the other wines in the Marfée range, it is medium-to-full, rather than being a heavyweight and - even at this early stage in its development - there is a good deal of elegance. This wine is going to age beautifully, over many years. A stunner of a wine.
 

Price:  £24.95 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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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.

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