The highlight of a recent trip to the Languedoc was a visit to Domaine Le Roc des Anges. This was the last visit after a long day of driving the length and breadth of the Languedoc and tasting over 80 wines; we arrived late for our appointment feeling hot, tired and, if the truth be known, more than ready for a cold beer!

However, all hankerings for cold beers quickly evaporated as Marjorie Gallet, the young woman at the helm at Domaine Le Roc des Anges, warmly welcomed us into her new home which sits directly above her newly restored winery and cellar in the centre of Montner. We were treated to a fascinating tour of her winery and various vineyard sites before tasting back at the house.

We don’t come across many female winemakers on the whole; when you meet Marjorie it is hard to imagine how this fine, slip of a girl copes with the physical demands of working a vineyard. Rarely do you meet such an idealist either, who so manifestly loves what they do; she told us that she and her husband Stephane are finally living the dream they had planned for years in this idyllic corner of southern France.

 

 

 Marjorie & Lucy
Le Roc Des Anges Vineyard

 Marjorie in the cellar
Le Roc Des Anges

After studying winemaking, she initially persuaded friends of her parents invest in vineyards which she had found and fallen in love close to the border with Spain. Today, the vineyards now comprise nearly 50 parcels of land on the local mountain, Forca Real, and include some old Carignan vines planted up to 90 years ago. Her vineyards are farmed organically and respect for the environment is paramount – the stark contrast between her vines and a neighbour’s (non organic) was visually striking as we walked across the hill with her. She believes that the vines should be allowed to fine their “autonomie” in order to truly express their terroir. We have stocked her wines for a couple of years now, but there is a sense that the 2008s really have stepped up a gear. “Without a doubt, 2008 (which yielded a “generous” – by estate standards –17 hectolier per hectare) will be a watershed vintage at Le Roc des Anges, with whites of startling, shimmering clarity and palate-staining, energetic reds.” Robert Parker

The Gallets have recently acquired a tiny new Domaine, Les Terres de Fagayra, giving Marjorie’s husband Stephane a chance to utilise the special talents for Maury that he honed as winemaker while at nearby Mas Amiel. For those not familiar with Maury, these are fortified wines made in a similar style to Port, seeing twelve months in wood before bottling. This little known appellation, until now championed by a single producer (Mas Amiel), yields wines of great structure and flavour. Red Maury is one of the few wines that can complement chocolate desserts – though it is equally delicious with a big slab of one of those nutty hard cheeses from the Pyrenees. Parker is enthusiastic in his reviews of the Gallet’s Maury too: “their three inaugural 2008 cuvees will turn heads.” They have already turned our heads – we have almost sold out of the red and are currently begging Marjorie for more.

 

Languedoc Panorama

That evening, Marjorie joined us for a memorable dinner in the local hostellerie (200 yards away from the Gallet’s home) whose chef had prepared a menu to match the various wines Marjorie has selected for us to taste – a veritable gastronomic feast and a rare opportunity to taste her wines matched with local dishes. That evening, the 2003 vintage of her “1903” (100% Carignan from her vineyards planted in 1903) stood out – an absolute show stopper – chunky and powerful but deliciously velvety and ripe with intense dark fruit flavours. The 8 course extravaganza finished up with a glass of the 2008 Fagayra Blanc perfectly matched with the most exquisite dessert. At £28.95 a bottle, not cheap for a dessert wine – but so worth it.

All in all, an unforgettable visit. I left feeling slightly in awe of this inspiring and thoroughly engaging woman, who manages to juggle doubtless never-ending work in her vineyards producing exceptional wines, while raising 2 young boys.