Englishman Graham Nutter bought the Chateau Saint Jacques d’Albas estate in this picturesque corner of the Languedoc back in 2001 and immediately set about radically improving viticulture, revitalising the soils, introducing organic practices, reducing the yields, and cancelling all the cooperative contracts. They set about converting the barn into a winery and the stables were renovated to form gites and a fine space for concerts, dinners and cultural events. Of the 90 hectares, 30 were under vine but it was mainly poor quality, high yielding Carignan so it had to go and was replaced with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre for the reds and Viognier, Vermentino, Roussanne and Marsanne for the whites.
Graham gets quite animated when it comes to the subject of soils – not surprising since he has spent most of the last 10 years ploughing in organic manure to improve the mineral balance in order to make the best, most natural wines possible. It also means they will attain his goal of gaining organic status from next year. These are serious, age-worthy wines that redefine what you might expect from Minervois. They have received great reviews from Jancis Robinson, a Gold Medal at the IWC and a glowing report from the Wine Advocate.
Le Domaine d’Albas 2014
Bottle Price - £9.99 / Offer Bottle Price £8.49
This wine is 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre, it is unoaked with layers of rich blackberry fruit, smooth medium body held together by a firm structure. A wine with plenty of character that is drinking well now.
Chateau St Jacques d’Albas 2013
Bottle Price - £12.95 / Offer Bottle Price - £11.00
Made from 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache. This cuvee comes from older vines with the Syrah getting 12 months in barrel before bottling. On the nose it has floral, bright fruit with garrigue herbs. A wonderful mouthfeel with very smooth, pure berry fruit and hints of violet, mocca and licorice. It develops on the palate with a lingering spicy finish. Can be drunk now but will keep for up to 5 years.