The South of France is an extra-ordinarily rich and diverse wine producing area, including the Rhone Valley, home to many well-established wines such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Hermitage and Cote Rotie. But it is the Southwestern region of Languedoc-Roussillon, which is currently so absorbing.
Evidence of wine growing by the Greeks as early as the fifth century BC makes this. along with parts of Provence, the oldest wine-growing region in France. It is in fact also the single biggest wine-growing region in the world extending from the Spanish border in the South to Provence in the east with over 2800 km2 under vine. But much of the wine produced is uninspiring, destined to end up as part of the huge European wine lake. As a result thousands of acres are being grubbed up to make way for fruit production. There is fortunately a simultaneous investment in best quality sites, producing wines which are capable of competing at the highest level. Recognition of this was underlined in the results of Decanter Magazine’s 2011 world wine awards, which named Languedoc-Roussillon the most successful French Wine Region.
Of course the judges in these competitions are looking for quality at a reasonable price and that is what we have found in the wines of Domaine du Moulinier, a small family vineyard in the AOC of Saint Chinian.
Guy Moulinier spent fifteen years working in the French civil service before finally returning to his home village to become a wine-maker. He set about the restoration of a fragmented estate. The poor stony land had been left for over a century, over-run with garrigue and scrub, Guy could see the potential and decided to plant the first Syrah vines in the appellation. Helped now by his elder brother and two sons, he followed his principals, to make the best Grands Crus wines he could.
These wines show great complexity reflecting the geology of three separate soil types, schistous hillsides, limestone plateaus and sandstone. The vines suffer in the poor well-drained soil, digging deep to find water; this suffering helps to create concentration in the wines. These natural conditions are also conducive low yielding crops often as low as 15-20 hl/ha instead of usual 50 hl/ha. The results are wines which have won numerous medals and accolades from wine journalists such as Robert Parker who compared the Sigillaires Cuvee to a great Chateauneuf du Pape which would sell for four or fives times as much.