The final leg of our buying trip begins in Faugères, an up and coming AOC that sits atop an impressive bedrock of schist, north of Beziers. Château des Estanilles is an estate that has recently changed hands and the good news is that the pioneering work of Michel Louison is being augmented by Julien Seydoux, an enthusiastic and independent-thinking young chap whose family have substantial vine-holdings in Costières de Nîmes. Julien is motivated to make the best possible Faugères and has invested blood, sweat, tears and a fait bit of dosh to make this happen. His 2010 vintage which we will ship in May will be certified organic, a rapidly growing phenomenon among ‘Yapp’ producers.
Our next visit of the day entailed a 3 hour drive across the Languedoc to the pretty Provençal village of Lambesc where Sebastien Ambrosio Collomb gave us a tour of Domaine Oullières and we tasted through his very good white and rosé 2010's, along with his ‘house’ red 2009 (a Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah blend) – all three will feature in our forthcoming 2011 wine list. This estate is also ‘en conversion’ to organic and will gain certification in 2012.
Finally, and after a further 3 hours schleping across Provence and negotiating the Nice rush hour, we arrived at our final tasting of the trip. Domaine de la Source in AOC Bellet, the smallest domaine with which we work, is now run by energetic brother and sister team Eric and Carine Dalmasso. They have doubled the size of the area under vine in the past five years to a whopping 5 hectacres! Somehow, from this tiny patch of vines perched between the Cote d’Azur and Southern Alps, they successfully manage to produce a red, white and rose – total production 15,000 bottles. 95% of the wine is consumed by well-heeled Niçois chez eux or in the fashionable restaurants of Vieux Nice, but the remaining pallet finds its way to Mere (we are their sole export customer). We would encourage anyone that hasn’t sampled these fascinating wines to give them a try – preferably sur terrasse with porchetta nicoise, grillade au fenouil or wood-oven roasted rabbit with thyme. Oh, by the way, did we tell you that next year Domaine de la Source will be certified organic?!