2016 Vouvray “Le Portail”Champalou
France | Loire
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by Anthony Lynch
Mas Champart Sampler
3-Pack France | Languedoc-Roussillon
SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $71.00
(a 15% discount)
This item does not take further discounts
During my trip to the Languedoc last fall, the number of outstanding bottles I tasted made it clear—once again—that the region is underappreciated for the quality of its wines, and unrivaled in their value. Visiting Mas Champart in Saint-Chinian drove the point home poignantly: with outstanding terroir expressed in all three colors, including serious, age-worthy gems, this appellation is truly a treasure hiding in the shadow of its more prestigious Provençal and Rhône neighbors.
Isabelle and Matthieu Champart farm vineyards of rocky limestone, which plays a critical role in this hot, dry, wind-whipped climate. While Saint-Chinian is also home to large swaths of schist, limestone’s sponge-like qualities are crucial to providing the vines with water in periods of drought; in the glass, this translates to a welcome mineral freshness. Indeed, this is the trademark of the Champarts’ wines, along with a southern generosity and the inimitable aromatic footprint of the wild garrigue surrounding the vineyards.
Mourvèdre thrives in these conditions, and this noble Mediterranean grape features prominently here. Hand-harvested, spontaneously fermented rosés are a rare breed nowadays, but this bright, fleshy example has the herbal complexity and refreshing crispness to match many a Bandol—at a fraction of the price. Similarly, the inky “Clos de La Simonette,” a blend of Mourvèdre with Grenache and hundred-year-old Carignan aged in demi-muids, rivals any top cellar-worthy red from southern France.
The wine that most piqued my curiosity was a rare white the Champarts bottle, from a vineyard of pure limestone rubble planted in 1900 to Terret and Grenache Gris. Once valued for its productivity, Terret has an unfortunate history of being overcropped in the Languedoc’s fertile flatlands, and few plantings remain today. These ancient hillside vines, on the other hand, yield very little, giving an intensely concentrated juice with great acidity and a textured finish.
This trio from Mas Champart makes for a superb introduction to the limestone riches of Saint-Chinian. Skilled artisans drawing the most from an exceptional terroir—now that’s something we can all get behind.
2016 Pays d'Oc Blanc • Mas Champart $27
2018 Saint-Chinian Rosé • Mas Champart $18
2016 Saint-Chinian Rouge “Clos de la Simonette” • Mas Champart $39
Château La Roque France | Languedoc-Roussillon | Languedoc Pic Saint Loup
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
Inspiring Thirst, page 312
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