Les Servières 2000 Vin de Pays de l'Hérault

Here is quite simply the perfect summer red – full of winning red cherry fruit, light on tannin, long on history and geography. The wine is a co-production between Sylvain Fadat of Domaine d'Aupilhac, the leading light of the village of Montpeyroux in the Coteaux du Languedoc and a childhood friend of his who, on returning to the region, found that his new property, 10km from Montpeyroux, also encompassed one of the oldest vineyards I know of in France.

(Temporary diversion: most of the oldest vineyards in the world are in places such as Australia and California where viticulture suffered a temporary setback such as economic meltdown or Prohibition and it was simply not worth replanting to maintain the annual income generated by the vineyard. In ultra-pragmatic France where wine production and consumption has been established for centuries, vineyards tend to be replanted regularly to keep production levels up, yields declining with vine age and all that.)

Somehow or other, this small plot of Cinsault vines, planted in 1900, has been left intact and in the bottle we have a marvellous blend of the intensity that old vines can bring with the flirtatious nature of Cinsault and the super-skilled winemaking of Sylvain Fadat who gave the wine a gentle eight months' polishing in large oak.

Fadat was the young man who in the early 1980s managed to make such good wine from his father's four hectares of 50-year-old Carignan vines that for some time no one (including myself) realised the informing variety was the reviled Carignan. Nowadays his Domaine d'Aupilhac Coteaux du Languedoc is, most unusually, made of equal parts of the five permitted red grape varieties Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache and Carignan and is well worth seeking out.