Beauregard Mirouze, Corbières

The traditional appellations of the Languedoc region, like Minervois, Fitou and Corbières, have always offered rich pickings for the wine lover, with many excellent estates farming typical varieties of the south like Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre for red and rosé wines, Roussanne, Marsanne and Vermentino for white wines.

In 1979 France revealed a new category of wine appellation: Vin de Pays. In the Languedoc, Vin de Pays d’Oc soon became a byword for inexpensive and good value wines, quickly becoming the Languedoc’s biggest appellation and, to an extent, stealing the the thunder of the traditional appellations. Vin de Pays d’Oc (later renamed as IGP d’Oc) offered wines made not only from the region’s traditional grapes, but from anything from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir, all permitted under the more flexible VdP/IGP rules.

mirouzeWhilst those more traditional appellations were in danger of being overlooked by consumers, of course quality estates still made many excellent wines. In Corbières, Karine and Nicolas Mirouze (right) took over the reins of their family estate in 1999, launching a new chapter in the 110-year history of the family vineyards.

Nicolas’ grandmother began to bottle quality wine from the estate in 1956, but under the direction of Karine and Nicolas a search for even higher quality began. First they halved their vineyard area from 50 hectares to 25 hectares, giving them the opportunity of farming only the best terroirs, and doing so organically. Yields were reduced from around 44 hl/ha to less than 30 hl/ha, with all weeding done mechanically and without the use of fertilisers.

In fact, 90% of their domaine is garrigue, the scented scrubland of wild flowers and herbs of the south, with only 10% planted to vine. The soil is sandstone, rich in quartz which they believe helps retain good acidity in their wines. Certainly the wines have edge and alertness, and generally slightly lower alcohol than many from this part of France.

Reader offer

The domaine was recently discovered by Ten Acre Wines (ten-acre.com), who are now importing their range to the UK. At between £9.95 and £14.95 per bottle these are already low introductory prices, but as a sponsor of wine-pages, Ten Acre is offering readers free shipping on any 24 bottles from the Beauregard Mirouze range (normally £10 for a spend of less than £300). Order from sales@ten-acre.com or phone 01992 618017. N.B. cuvée Lauzina is currently out of stock, but will be back again in late summer.

The wines

(2016) A southern French blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Vermentino from Corbières, this organic wine is unoaked and picking early to retain acidity and freshness has worked a treat. The nose has some of the Marsanne peach and apricot allure, but there's a lemon and lime peel freshness too, and a sense of coolness. In the mouth it is crisp and alive, delicate, with a pear juice freshness but then a lovely sour lemon bite of acidity to lengthen and add a twist of interest on the finish.
(2016) An organic rosé from the south of France, but a little different from the typical model of nearby Provence. This blend of 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache has more colour though still relatively pale, but the rosy red apple and summer fruit aromas are to the fore, ripe on the initial palate impression, but then fine savoury acidity and a nip of structural tannin slips in. Fresh, elegant but rounded.
(2016) A 50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache from Beauregard-Mirouze's organic vineyards, there's a creamy red fruit brightness here, a touch of pepper, but also a deeper, more briary aspect. In the mouth it is a little brighter in tone than the more expensive Lauzina cuvée, juicier and more plump red-fruited on the mid-palate, but though the ripe fruit persists, the finish has a hint of similar gravitas, the fine tannins and grip of the acidity giving it some heft and savoury appeal.
(2016) A blend of 45-year-old Syrah, with 30% Grenache, with yields of just 30hl/ha. Half of this cuvée was aged in oak for one year. I'd suggest decanting this slightly brooding wine, with its tight, dark red fruit nose, hinting at black olive and briar, but muscular and tight. On the palate there is considerable concentration, with the tannin and the deep, ripe, sweet but savoury core of black fruit filling the mouth, a chewy seriousness to the finish, with bittersweet acidity and very good, gently spicy length. An un-flashy but serious and structured, meaty red that should cellar.

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