The wines of Domaine de la Grange des Pères, well for me at least, seem to have more in common with the Northern Rhone than the Languedoc….quite deeply fruited, spicy and dense, sometimes with meaty & herbal edges, they quite often need some time in the cellar before they begin hitting their straps.
Owner, Laurent Vaillé once worked as a physiotherapist before throwing in the towel, so to speak, and studying winemaking. After concluding his studies he spent time working at JF Coche-Dury, JL Chave and Domaine de Trevallon before moving back to the family home near Aniane. Laurent set about planting existing family landholdings with vines as well as purchasing some additional plots and by 1992 he was ready to release the first vintage of his own wine.
Like his famous neighbor, Aime Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac, Laurent decided to ignore the local appellation laws, the Coteaux du Languedoc AOC for the record, and plant Cabernet Sauvignon so the resulting wines are labelled Vin de Pays de L’Hérault. The Domaine de la Granges des Pères estate (and Mas de Daumas Gassac for that matter) lie on a terroir called ‘Le Tourtou’, high in altitude with a soil consisting of rocky limestone and clays. The farming methods are lutte raisonée….that is to say they are nearly totally organic and the yields are very low in the grand scheme of things….10-25Hl per hectare.
It’s worth noting that the slopes of Le Tourtou was where Robert Mondavi planned setting up his death star in the Languedoc before things went somewhat pear-shaped….the infamous L’Affaire Mondavi that was depicted through Jonathon Nossiter’s terroir-tinted glasses in Mondavino.
I’m not sure of the actual cépage in the 2006 but as a general rule of thumb it usually consists of around 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre & 20% Cabernet Sauvignon….some years some Counoise will make it into the blend also. The oak regime is up to two years in a mix of old & new casks…..seems like a lot but rest assured it is done with great skill and the oak levels in the finished wines are never intrusive.
It lies deep garnet red in the glass and throw’s out aromas of deep rich blackfruits….plum, blackberry, cherry and mulberry with hints of roast beef, dark chocolate, licorice, deep spice with a slight herbal flick and a waft of sweet smoke.
Quite weighty and dense on the palate with supple cassis, cherry and plummy blackfruits, flecked with earthy mineral notes, clove, sandalwood, dark chocolate and roasted meats. There is a slight resinous nuance in the background with elements of charcoal, herbs and stone. Densly packed with a great shape and a lacy curtain of ripe, fine-grained, chalky tannins finishing long and balanced.
I’ve always enjoyed the wines from this estate as they are a bit lusher, darker and stand out….maybe a little ” international” in style but fantastic wines all the same.