Here’s the new Languedoc producer discovered at Bettane and Desseauve’s Grand Tasting 2006 in Paris last weekend. Fabrice Leseigneur is a professional photographer based in distinctly non-vinous Yvelines in the north of France but he has teamed up with local grower Michel Fabre and a patch of vines at 300 m altitude not far from St Jean de Minervois way up in the foothills of the Montagne Noire on some interesting calcareous soils over clay. They have seven hectares (17 acres) of sustainably farmed Syrah, Carignan, Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu with the wines made in Bize-Minervois.
So far only two red wines have emerged. Lo Mainatge 2005 Vin de Pays d’Oc is a delightfully gentle, fresh, fruity unoaked blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Carignan with none of the toughness of this last variety, perhaps thanks to the twice-daily pigeage during the three-week cuvaison. This would make a really charming house wine, not least because of its stylish label, and certainly tastes more than it costs, 7.50 euros a bottle at the cellar door.
Lo Paire 2004 Vin de Pays d’Oc is altogether more serious, a blend of 65% Grenache with Syrah which, appropriately since Bize boasts one of the Languedoc’s best-known olive co-operatives, actually does smell of olives, as well as a range of delicately handled black fruits. The altitude and soils keep this wine very refreshing too although it is dense enough to drink well, and more seriously than Lo Mainatge, over the next two years at least. Fabrice Lesigneur describes it as “très plastique à table” and “mon petit chameleon”. At just 13.5% alcohol, it’s certainly my style of wine. Sixty per cent of the wine was raised in new oak, the rest in tank. This one is 15 euros a bottle and is worth decanting.
To me the wines demonstrate that a little creative, even artistic, energy can lift a wine out of the crowd of well-made wines that are currently languishing in the Languedoc looking for a buyer.
Now, the last few wines of the week have, because of their availability, been frustrating for non British visitors to this site. To level the playing field, I have chosen a wine of the week today that may be frustrating for everyone (other than those living in France) because, apart from a small consignment sent to Japan, these wines are currently available only in their homeland. A total of more than 2,000 cases are available so perhaps some enterprising importer (who will be offered much better prices of course) can put them out of their misery. For the moment however, I’m afraid, you have to contact Fabrice Leseigneur directly if you want to buy the wine, either on +33 6 80 88 29 43 or, better in view of time differences, at email@example.com