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Domaine de la Marfée, Languedoc, France

Editor's note: for a more recent (March 2005) review of this domaine click here

Thierry Hasard is the accountant for Grange des Pères, probably the most high-profile estate in the Languedoc at present. But he’s evidently been bitten by the wine bug fairly badly, and now makes some fairly serious wines of his own from 6 ha of low-yielding old vines (cropped at 20 hl/ha), plus a few small new plantations (yielding a paltry 10 hl/ha). His dozen or so parcels of vines are located near the village of Murviel-lès-Montpellier, and each is vinified separately, aged in barrique and then blended. Thierry’s dedication to the cause is without question: in order to improve the drainage in one of his vineyard plots that he was about to plant with Mourvèdre, he dug 25 lorry loads of small stones into the soil. There’s no winery -- he makes his wines in his central Montpellier home, so these are truly garage wines.

I completely applaud the philosophy of passionate wine producers such as Thierry. But I couldn’t give top ratings to some of these wines because they are a little awkward at the moment; without a track record I can’t predict how they will age and score them accordingly. I suspect they are true vins de garde and will blossom with five or more years in bottle, but let’s see.

The wines are available from La Vigneronne, where the tasting took place (prices in brackets after each note).

Les Gamines de la Marfée 2000, Vin de Pays de l’Herault
A young vine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre, aged in barrique and cuve. Lovely leafy edge to the forward nose, which displays notes of blackcurrant and raspberry liqueur. Very fruity. The delicious fruity, forward palate has great concentration and shows spicy tannins. Very rich but well balanced: a joyful wine. Very good/excellent (£10)

Les Vignes qu’on Abat 1999, AOC Coteaux du Languedoc
Mainly old vine Carignan, with varying proportions of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cabernet depending on the vintage. Pronounced toasty, roast coffee character to the nose, which is spicy and rich. Rich, chunky palate with firm tannins, more roasted character and an intensely spicy finish. Tight and oaky nose; it will be interesting to see how this evolves. Very good+ (£20)

Les Vignes qu’on Abat 2000, Vin de Pays de L’Herault
Forward, spicy nose with a slightly roasted edge and some chocolatey richness. The palate is quite modern and fruity with great concentration and just a touch of rusticity, together with some more roasted character. Some spicy tannins provide structure. Very good+ (£18)

Les Champs Murmurés 1999, AOC Coteaux du Landuedoc
A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre and Grenache. Strongly roasted character on the nose: quite forward and spicy. Concentrated spicy palate with grippy, austere tannins. Very dense but a little bit charmless at the moment. May evolve nicely though. Very good+ (£18.50)

Les Champs Murmurés 2000, Vin de Pays de L’Herault
Opaque red/purple. Again, a striking rich roast coffee character on the nose. Rich liquorice-edged fruit on the palate with great concentration. Spicy tannins make it quite structured. A huge wine that needs time to develop. Very good+ (£18)  

wines tasted April 2002

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