Vincent Licciardi and his wife Laurence farm a total of 32 hectares of vines around the sleepy village of Moux, in the foothills of the Montagne d'Alaric, between Carcassone and Narbonne. TLD and I visited them in June, en route from our accommodation in the Ariège region to Faugères. And although our rather fraught journey (including a horrendous traffic jam on the autoroute) made us around 2 hours late for our appointment, we were treated to an excellent 4-course lunch, including an absolutely wonderful summer truffle risotto, accompanied by the full range of wines. It would be difficult to find a more friendly and charming couple - and their wines (not forgetting Laurence's home cooking) are delicious!
|Vincent and Laurence Licciardi|
The vines grow on a subsoil of limestone and clay and benefit from a terroir defined by the warm Mediterranean sun and the dry winds of the northerly Cers Tramontane. They employ sustainable viticultural practices, with only minimal use of spraying in the vineyards, when absolutely necessary.
|Moux, with the Montagne d'Alaric in the background|
|The winery at Prieuré Sainte Mari d'Albas|
The grapes are hand-picked at the height of their maturity (at yields averaging no more than 35 hl/ha) and are pre-selected during the harvest itself, prior to being vinified in such a way as to bring the best out of the fruit and yield genuinely expressive wines. The reds are all vinified using the carbonic maceration method (i.e. whole bunches - a la Beaujolais). Although I am not normally a fan of this method, the red wines of Prieuré Sainte Marie d'Albas manage to be rich, fruity and beautifully balanced, yet imbued with typical Lanuedoc warmth and spicyness. The rosé is "proper" wine (made from direct pressing, rather than the free-run saignée method) and the white is full of juicy citrus and tree fruit flavours. What's more, we now have the following wines in stock. Try them - you won't be disappointed!
40% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 30% Syrah. 13.5% abv. Intense, deep purple colour, with real aromatic complexity - a melange of summer pudding fruits, garrigue herbs, cumin and coriander, with hints of roses, violets and leather. On the palate, it is soft, easy drinking, yet nicely concentrated, with a great mouthful of fresh summer fruit flavours, ample acidity and a just the right level of tannic grip. Stylistically, this isn't too far removed from a rather good Cru Beaujolais - in other words, gloriously fruity, but with a little southern warmth thrown-in for good measure. Lovely wine! £9.79.
50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. 13.5% abv. A deep, intense, glossy purple colour. Another complex nose, displaying aromas of ripe red fruits, crushed blackcurrants, with hints of garrigue herbs, crushed pepper, spices, roasted meats and light mineral notes. There's a hint of clotted cream, too, along with a gentle whiff of fine eau de vie. Indeed, it has a similar aromatic profile to a rather good Chateauneuf! The palate is marked by a breadth of generous spiced black cherry and bramble fruit, with hints of meat and savoury herbs. Supple tannins and refreshing soft citrus-tinged acidity combine to add a sweet and sour quality. A long, spicy finish completes the package, in a wine chock full of southern character. £11.75.
50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. 12.5% abv. Crystal clear and copper-coloured with salmon pink highlights. Beautifully fragrant, with aromas of raspberry, cherry, mint and garrigue herbs. Bags of juicy red cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate, with a gently creamy texture. This is a "proper" rosé, made from pressed grapes (rather than the usual "saignée" or free-run method), nicely rounded and without any of the slightly bitter notes found in many other rosés. A lovely wine, which strikes a balance between easy-drinking soft summer fruits and refreshing crispness. £8.99.
100% Macabeu. 12.5% abv. Clear and bright with pale yellow/gold highlights. On the nose, delicate floral aromas of white peach, white flowers and lemon oil, with disticnctly herby overtones - basil, mint and oregano spring to mind. The palate is bright and crisp, offering juicy citrus and exotic fruit flavours. There's a fair amount of richness to it - not oily, but expansive and lightly spicy. The finish is very long and gently warming, yet remaining remarkably fresh and mouth-watering. £9.79.