By Emma Kershaw
Douzens is a village in the Corbières, 20 minutes down the road from me and equidistant to Carcassonne. They have been running the ‘Made in Douzens’ event since June 2018 and I have been meaning to go since it started, but life and its events have always got in the way. Until recently that is.
There are five independent vignerons in Douzens and it is a close knit community, they all borrow equipment from each other and help one another out during harvest and busy times, share contacts etc. Theirs is a story of comradeship that isn’t always echoed in other villages. Jennifer Buck, from the Colline de L’Hirondelle, explained that creating the Made in Douzens event was a natural progression for these winemakers due to their community spirit and the fact that their wines are so very different in style so as not to be competition to one another.
“Jean Pierre Py had put Made in Douzens on his back labels and then we – and I think Adrian – followed suit a couple of years ago. This was way before the association or the events. We share equipment as it is – Jean Pierre Py machine harvests our white and rosé, we share a labelling machine and bottle together with Régazel, Christelle Alias has loaned us a trailer – we lend her our barrel press – I translate for everybody.. the list goes on… so it was easy for us to get together in an association. The idea of a regular « open winery » village you can visit and taste several wines in several locations came rather quickly. We wanted to promote our wines and show that Douzens is a village where really great wines are made. We know that we are not competitors and wanted to work together because we all have different strengths. “ Jennifer Buck, Colline de L’Hirondelle.
Out of the five domaines, four work under the organic label and the fifth under the HVE 3 (La Haute Valeur Environnmentale level 3). There was an eclectic mix of AOP Corbières, IGP and Vin de France wines on offer. The domaines range from the small family-run with less than 10ha (Colline de l’Hirondelle and Regazel), to the large 140ha (Domaine Py), to the elegantly polished (Parker pointed!) Château de Fontenelles. When I was there the fifth domaine, Sainte Marie des Crozes, was away so I was unable to visit them this time.
So how does it work? Made in Douzens is a regular, free wine tasting. The doors of the five domaines are open from 10h – 13h every first Sunday of the month, all year round. You can choose to visit one or all of the domaines and taste as little or as many of the wines on offer as you desire. There is no fee and no obligation to buy; although at least one of the domaines was offering a special ‘Made in Douzens’ price when I was there. There is no need to book, you can just rock up with all the family, as I did.
At 13h one of the domaines will be host to the lunch, where you can buy plates of local produce at very reasonable prices and enjoy the wines of that domaine. It is very convivial and a great initiative by these forward thinking winemakers. If only more villages did this! The food on offer and the venue changes each time apparently, although the goats cheese producer from Barbaira, Ferme Langloys, is always there. He makes delicious goats cheeses in various guises, I highly recommend the pepper version. He puts the crushed peppercorns inside of the cheese instead of around the outside, unusual but delicious.
I took the opportunity to taste the entire range from each domaine, I use a spittoon! The vignerons are generous with their time and will talk you through their wines if you desire, I wasn’t aware if they spoke English or not (other than Jen of course!) But there seemed to be quite an international crowd when I went.
Coming from Coustouge I started with the Colline de l’Hirondelle as it is the first domaine as I approach Douzens, I ended with Domaine Py as they were serving lunch, other than that there is no real benefit of doing one domaine before another.
Below is a selection of my tasting notes from each domaine:
Colline de l’Hirondelle
8ha organic. They produce one white, one rosé and four red wines; ranging in price from 7,50 – 28€
Ventilo 2017 Rosé 7,50€
Vin de France
- made from the little known Chenançon grape (a crossing of Jurançon Noir and Grenache) they only use the free-run juice as it is a grape that has an intense colour.
- An elegant pale pink, aromatic and floral on the nose. Crunchy red berry fruits, creamy with hints of spice; a rounded body and good length.
- I serve this with Tielle Sétoise as it can stand up to the spicy, rich flavours.
Vin de France
- Old vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah
- Garnet colour, with notes of mulberry jam, spices, garrigue herbs and vanilla. This wine, as with all their wines, has no oak yet it has a creamy character that fools one into thinking that it has, which comes apparently from the ripeness of the grape seeds! A smokey palate of damsons, mulberries and a floral elegance.
- This worked well with a wild mushroom and smoked duck ragoût.
I highly recommend their top cuvée La Joupatière too, but I think you should visit and learn about the fascinating story behind this unusual wine from the winemakers themselves!
9ha in organic conversion. They produce one white, one rosé and three reds; ranging in price between 6,70 – 21€
Petits Mains Blanc 2018 7,60€
- Grenache Blanc and Roussanne
- Citrus and grassy, with a clean, crisp saline quality on the palate. This is a lovely fresh and tangy wine, pleasing and inviting.
- This is a wine to be enjoyed as an apéro or with a large plate of fresh oysters.
Petits Mains Rouge 2016 7,70€
- 60% Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan.
- Ruby red with light tannins and crisp, crunchy red fruits and a hint of aromatic black pepper.
- A summer red that I would serve lightly chilled and serve with a platter of charcuterie and good friends!
I enjoyed all of their Petits Mains range in particular, they were fresh, honest wines, with clean fruit character and unoaked.
Château de Fontenelles
40ha HVE 3. They make one rosé and four reds; ranging in price from 9 – 40€
Notre Dame 2016 15€
- Syrah, Grenache, old vine Carignan and Mourvèdre.
- Deep purple colour, with mid weight tannins; fresh and chalky. Flavours of stewed black fruits and rich currants; an earthy spice tone and an herbal finish.
- The Comptoir des Producteurs in Lézignan does a fabulous piment d’Espelette sausage that when cooked on the barbecue, would be delightful with this wine.
Moural de Salomon 2016 40€
- Syrah and Carignan. Vinification in oak barrels , with a further 15 months barrel ageing.
- This is a big wine, not for the feint hearted! A hand crafted wine, deep in colour, rich in aroma and powerful in flavour, a wine for laying down and certainly one to carafe. The oak was a tad too pronounced for my liking but that will disappear with age and with the right food match.
- Creamy, toasty coconut aromas were followed by big, chewy tannins. Ripe black fruits and a savoury black olive edge, with a concentrated, spicy finish.
- Carafe this wine a good three hours ahead and then enjoy with a slow roasted lamb shanks in a rich tomato and prune sauce.
The next generation are slowly taking over the reigns of this fifth generation estate as Thierry and Nelly begin to step back, so it will be interesting to see if the young ‘uns change the style much.
140ha organic. The largest of the four, they produce three whites, one rosé and six reds; the price here ranges from 6,75 – 16€
Tout Naturellement Blanc 2018 8,80€
- 100% Chardonnay made without any added sulphites and extra lees ageing.
- A creamy wine, with a ripe green apple character and a slight spritz. The additional lees ageing gave the wine more body and character.
- I enjoyed this, which is not always the case with the ‘sans sulphites’ wines, and as we were staying on for lunch we had it as an aperitif and then sampled it with the goats cheese.
Pinot Noir 2018 6,75€
IGP Pays D’Oc
- 100% Pinot Noir, not a grape variety that we see often in the Corbières, so I enjoyed this for its novelty factor as much as anything else!
- An enticing berry red colour, with plenty of crunchy summer pudding fruits on the nose that followed through to the palate. Strawberries and cream and thoroughly enjoyable at a very modest 12.5% ABV.
- Another one to serve slightly chilled. The fabulous Italian restaurant Bourdasso are making their own Mozzarella di Bufala now, which they sell locally and at the Made in Douzens event. I can happily imagine sitting on our sunny terrace with a chilled glass of this Pinot and a salad of ripe tomatoes, that mozzarella, plenty of fresh basil liberally drizzled with a punchy olive oil!
An eclectic mix of wines here, I enjoyed their white Corbières and the Lucien red too.