In recent years, Domaine de Montcalmès has made a reputation for itself as a rising star of the Languedoc, justifying Jeb Dunnuck’s (Robert Parker’s successor at the Wine Advocate) suggestion that the region’s crus are “diamonds in the rough”. Michelin-starred restaurants and seasoned wine lovers alike can’t get enough of these wines from Frédéric Pourtalié, former apprentice at Grange des Pères (Languedoc), Mas Jullien (Languedoc) and Alain Graillot (Crozes-Hermitage).
After learning the ropes at these prestigious domains, Frédéric Pourtalié accepted to take over the family domain in 1998, on condition that it was taken out of the local cooperative winery. Since then, in collaboration with his sister Muriel Fabre, he has cultivated the 22 hectares of vines in the municipalities of Aniane, Saint-Jean de Fos, Puéchabon and Saint-Saturnin de Lucian.
His Puéchabon vineyard is characterised by its limestone plateau and north-facing vines. These two factors give the Syrah and Grenache plants a fairly cool climate in spite of the Mediterranean warmth. On the other hand, the terroir in Aniane is reminiscent of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, thanks to its ‘galets’, those round pebbles for which Châteauneuf is famous, and its fully south-facing exposure. It’s no surprise that Mourvèdre grows here, a grape that doesn’t suffer in the heat and even drought, and that offers up concentrated notes of black fruits, spices and meat.
Pourtalié decided to convert the domain to organic viticulture in 2012, gaining certification in 2015. He is gradually introducing biodynamic methods. Yields are low and only small amounts of wines produced. The parcels are vinified separately, with meticulous care and attention to detail. The grapes are destemmed and vatted by gravity before macerating for a good month, imparting the wine-to-be with plentiful flavours, texture, colour…and aging potential. Fermentations are carried out with ambient yeasts. The wine ages in old casks from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for two years, then in stainless-steel vats for 3 to 6 months. The varieties are blended before bottling and the bottles rest on racks for another 5 to 8 months.
With time, these nectars gain in precision and balance; as Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve say, they are “dreams of wines”!
Domaine de Montcalmès, what the guides say
La Revue du Vin de France, 2* out of 3
Frédéric Pourtalié is an experience winemaker, having met much-deserved success since his first vintage in 1999. In 15 years, Montcalmès has become one of the Languedoc’s must-try references.
Bettane + Desseauve 2019, 4* out of 5
The range of reds now boasts three cuvées, a Grenache reminiscent of Château Rayas, the elegant Le Geai and the cuvée Terrasses du Larzac, with finer tannins than one would expect from the Languedoc, a dream of a wine.
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This cuvée is aged for two years in oak barrels. The nose is highly complex with aromas of black fruit (blackcurrant and blackberry), notes of musk and spices. Extensive on the palate, aromas of black fruit, spices and liquorice abound. Its structure is clean, and tannins are silky.
Coteaux du Languedoc (white)
The grapes are aged in oak barrels and second or third-fill demi-muids for 24 months. Six months before bottling, they are then blended in barriques and demi-muids. The nose is both elegant and moreish and the palate is superb – both clean and flavoursome with a pleasing mineral finish.
Vin de France (white)
The several grape varieties from which the cuvée is produced are grown organically. They are vinified naturally with indigenous yeasts before fermenting and maturing in oak. Balanced, flavoursome and fresh, the wine has good aging potential and would be at ease with fine foods.