Montpellier in February

A trip to Montpellier to play golf in February. In truth it was a gamble on the weather based on nothing more scientific than a guess that at that time of year Mediterranean weather might be kinder than Atlantic weather (Biarritz is a wonderful golf destination as is Lisbon but you are asking to be blown to a right-angle as you address the ball).

I was not going to drive all that way without buying some wine to take home. As it turned out I first bought some cheese from the village of Roquefort-sur Soulzon, which is just south of the famous Millau bridge (sadly shrouded in fog on this occasion). The Fromagerie Gabriel Coulet offers four kinds of Roquefort cheese. Two were aged for six months, one for eight months (creamy and delicious to my taste) and one for about thirty months (very strong and more of a challenge than a pleasure unless that’s your idea of a good time). There was also some excellent ewe’s Tomme and I also bought some very good chorizo.

Then on to the town of St Jean de Blaquiere for the main event. The Terrasses du Larzac is an Appellation of which I had never heard - I picked it purely because it is just to the north of Montpellier. The Appellation was awarded in 2004 and it is part of the region known as Coteaux du Languedoc. The wines are a feast of classic Meditteranean grapes - Syrah, Grenache, Mourvédre, Cinsault and Carignan.  

I had made an appointment with Domaine le Clos du Serres, selected at random via an internet search. We tasted five very decent reds, starting at €11 a bottle. I bought the one that I thought was the most unusual, Sainte-Pauline, which comprises 60% Syrah, 20% Cinsault and 20% Carignan. If it is possible for a serious wine to smell and taste of raspberries, it did. Our hostess, Béatrice, told me that it is the Cinsault grape that does that. Cinsault is often found in Provence rosé.

The gamble on the weather worked. Montpellier has a couple of very decent golf courses and we played in delightfully warm temperatures (21c).

We drove back up the Autoroute du Soleil via Nimes and Uzes. I called in to see M Gauthier at Villie-Morgon to stock up on his 2018 Morgon. There was a bottle of his Beaujolais Nouveau which was neither offered nor requested but I hope to taste his 2019 vintage later this year.
Thence to Uchizy. Talmard is the dominant family name in this excellent Macon Chardonnay producing village. The Domaine of Gérald Talmard has two outlets, one at the home of the older generation who complained to us last year that they were running out of wine. The larger outlet is on the main road where the wine is made but on arriving there we were told that there would be no wine until the following week (when the 2019 would be released).

Fortunately, if you miss one Talmard there will be another along in a minute. In this case, literally a minute up the road was Cave Paul Talmard. Paul has been succeeded by his daughter Mallory and her husband Benjamin. We tasted five examples of Chardonnay, including a Macon Chardonnay, a Macon Uchizy and a Vielles Vignes, named La Presse Silencieuse, which I thought was exceptionally good. In addition to a case of this I bought a couple of half bottles of a late-bottled sweeter wine which they call Douceur d’Automne - it comes at a price, specifically €15 for 50cl.

I will be back.