Tasting note: Domaine de Cabrol, Cabardes AOC

(C) 2008 John Simmonds

A trip to Europe for a family anniversary in mid-2008 provided opportunity to visit wineries in one of France’s newest (1999) Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – Cabardes AOC.

Situated just north of the medieval city of Carcasonne, this small appellation (500 hectares) lies on the western edge of the Languedoc-Rousillon wine region, the largest area of vineyards on the planet and source of one in ten of the world’s wine.

Appellation winemakers in Cabardes are permitted to make red and rose style wines. Reflecting its unique location in the broad windy valley just north of the Pyrenees, Cabardes is the only appellation in France that is permitted to blend red wine from grapes typically grown in the Atlantic climates (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot) with those typically found in Mediterranean climates (Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre). The wines are termed ‘west wind’ (Vent d’Ouest) or ‘east wind’ (Vent d’Est) depending on the balance between the Bordeaux and Rhone grape varieties.

While Chateua Pellautier offered a beautiful and sophisticated tasting ambience and good quality wines, it was a visit to Domaine de Cabrol that provided the highlight. The stony soils, well-tended vineyards and rustic buildings of this iconic farm winery reminded us of Treeton.

The chance to taste the different blend styles of this highly recommended winery was facinating but it was the differences created by variability in barrel-ageing that generated most discussion. Last week, with our 2009 vintage completed and the new wines all underway, we took time out to taste two contrasting bottles of the Domaine de Cabrol’s cabernet dominant blends. The 2003 Cuvee Vent D’Ouest (1 year on oak) had perhaps not travelled as well as it could but the La Derive (2 years on oak) opened out to a beautiful balance.

Tasted against the 2007 Treeton Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the Margaret River wines showed their quality matched the best of Cabardes

John Simmonds