As promised in my glowing write-up on that memorable sweet wine (see Friday's post below) here's a brief account of our (seemingly annual) visit to Domaine d'Archimbaud, on our way back home from Languedoc in late June. The estate is situated in the village of Saint-Saturnin de Lucian, one of the most northerly wine-growing villages in Languedoc. Since it is not really within easy reach of the main holiday areas, it is one of the least-known (and least-appreciated) appellations in the region. Last I heard, there were only 2 independent growers making wine in the Saint-Saturnin appellation, namely the oft-hyped Virgile Joly, plus d'Archimbaud. To this day, the Co-op still dominates production in the AOC. Virgile Joly's fame is due in no small part to the book Virgile's Vineyard, published a few years after he created his estate in 2000. I haven't tasted any of his wines, but have read mixed reviews from both critics and punters alike. I'd like to taste them sometime, so I could make up my own mind.
So what of the wines? Whilst unmistakeably Languedoc, the flavours tend to the more “cool climate” in style. The village is situated in the sub-region or "terroir" known as Terrasses de Larzac, in the foothills of the Causse du Larzac, a limestone plateau on the southern edge of the Massif Central. Here the altitude is higher than many of the better-known appeallations (in this case, around 500ft above sea level) and the climate is different - the days are still sunny and hot, but the nights are cooler than the more coastal and low-lying Languedoc regions, allowing for a slightly longer growing season. The vineyards are shielded from the north winds and the worst excesses of the weather systems of the Massif Cenral by the Larzac plateau and the imposing Mont de St. Baudille, which rises to 847 metres above sea level (about 2,800 feet) a few kilometres to the north east.
Les IV Pierre Blanc Vin de Pays du Mont Baudile (2009)
The wines I have described above will be available by late summer or early autumn. You can read about the rest of the wines in the Archimbaud range, which are already available to buy, on the Leon Stolarski Fine Wines website.