The site on which Château Milhau-Lacugue now stands used to be a pit-stop on the Compostela pilgrim route and you can still find dressed stones bearing the eight pointed star of the Order of Hospitaliers in the vineyard. Whether weary travellers got to slake their thirst with anything as life-affirming as Jean Lacugue's Saint-Chinian is doubtful, but they would have enjoyed plentiful sunshine and fine views from this elevated location 12 kilometres north-west of Béziers.
Jean avers that his vines enjoy such a fine climate and enviable limestone and red clay terroir that the resultant wines don't require any oak embellishment from barrels. His hugely-poplar ' Magali' is made from a blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Carignan. Writing on the 2013 vintage in the Observer, David Williams did a good job of explaining its appeal: "With a waft of garrigue herb and liquorice and a shake of the pepper pot seasoning the bright brambly fruit, this threeway Mediterranean blend is a vivid, great-value alternative to big Rhône names."
Jean also produces a more senior vin de garde, from a blend of 77% Syrah and 23% Grenache Noir, called 'Les Truffières'. It too is redolent of the wild herbs and berries of the garrigue but has a bit more concentration and tannic grip so repays 3-5 years bottle age. Wild boar or venison would be apposite accompaniments.