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Details for Château Mignan, Cuvée Pech-Quisou, Minervois

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AppellationMinervois AOC
Syrah / Shiraz
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Grenache / Garnacha
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Château Mignan
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These two vast Mediterranean areas have been a hotbed of experimentation and innovation for French wines.
Roussillon is the smaller, western region bordering Spain. The vineyards are very hot and dry and Grenache thrives in these arid conditions. It is especially famous for fortified Vin Doux Naturels like Rivesaltes, Maury and Banyuls, made mostly from that grape. Unfortified wines from the area are called Collioure, made from Grenache but with plenty of Syrah and Mourvèdre added to the mix. Côtes de Roussillon wine is made with Carignan and Cinsault as well as Syrah and Mourvèdre. Côtes de Roussillon Villages is a step up and Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres is even more so.
The Languedoc, to the east, is split into several significant sub-regions according to climatic and geographical influences. The reds of Minervois, Corbières and Fitou are good quality and value for money. Limoux is a region gaining a reputation for its sparkling wines made from Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Where Languedoc meets the Rhône river, the Côteaux du Languedoc is an important appellation, as too are St Chinian, Faugères, Clairette de Languedoc and Picpoul de Pinet.
But it is the various IGTs (formerly Vins de Pays) that have really driven innovation. Their more relaxed regulation of grape varieties and production methods have allowed winemakers freedom to experiment, making this the most New World of French wine regions.

Château Mignan

Not actually a castle, but a long-established family winery currently run by Christian Mignard, his wife Carole and their three children in the little village of Siran, between La Livinière and Pépieux in France’s Languedoc.
Siran lies in the AOC Minervois-La Livinière, and so do just over half of the family’s 12 ha of vineyards, with the remaining 5 ha just outside in AOC Minervois.  All are on the sought-after “high terrace” of Minervois, which skirts the southern foot of the Montagne Noir range.
Most of the vineyards are planted with black grapes: Syrah, old-vine Grenache and ancient, century-old Carignan.  These produce one AOC Minervois red, Cuvée Pech-Quisou, and two Minervois-La Livinières: Les Trois Clochers and the old-vine flagship, L’Oeil du Temps.
They also produce a white Minervois, from a traditional local blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne and Rolle (Vermentino).  All their wines have been certified organic since the 2012 vintage.

about this wine About this wine

Most of the world’s greatest and most expensive wines are French.  However, such prestige means that bargains are rather harder to find than in, say, Portugal or Greece.  Languedoc-Roussillon in France’s southeast is the place to look for them.  Land is cheap; growing and ripening healthy grapes is easy in the reliably sunny climate; and there are no really famous wines to drive up demand and prices.

The French Appellation Controllée system, the model for most of the world’s wine classifications, was devised just to the northeast of the Languedoc in Châteauneuf-du-Pape during the 1930s.  But the Languedoc lacked a Baron Le Roy; its first ACs came much later and were for fortified sweet wines.  Fitou was the first AC in the Languedoc for dry reds, created in 1948.  It wasn’t until the Eighties that it was joined by others: Saint Chinian and Faugères in 1982 and both Corbières and Minervois in 1985.
Minervois lies in the Western Languedoc, the sunbaked heart of the Midi.  It’s a large appellation with various climatic zones, but the best wines come from limestone terraces in the centre of the region, at the foot of the Montagne Noir range to the north, which is itself the southwestern end of France’s Massif Central.  In 1999 this central region was granted its own appellation of Minervois-La Livinière, making it effectively a Premier Cru within Minervois.
Just a couple of kilometres east of the small village of La Livinière itself lies the even smaller village of Siran, home to Château Mignan, producers of this wine.  Most of their vineyards lie within the Minervois-La Liviniére AOC, but 5 hectares fall just outside, though still on the “high terrace” that produces the best wines.  These produce their entry-level red and white Minervois, both called Cuvée Pech Quisou.
This is the red, made from a blend of 73% Syrah and 27% Grenache, grown on the deep limestone and clay soils characteristic of the high terrace, with pebbly gravel on top.  The top layer drains very well, keeping the grapes dry and free from rot, and forcing the vine roots deep in search of moisture.  The deep clay subsoil acts as a reservoir for winter rains, allowing the vines to survive the hot dry summers.
All of the vineyards are farmed organically, and the estate’s wines have been certified organic since the 2012 vintage.  The Syrah is machine-harvested, while the considerably older Grenache vines must be hand-picked since they are trained according to a different system.
Fermentation takes place in epoxy-lined cement vats at a fairly high 28°C.  At this temperature it proceeds quite quickly, but the wine remains in contact with the grape skins for more than three weeks, with regular punching down of the cap of skins – a more traditional and gentler method of extraction than pumping over.
Part of the wine is aged in cement vats too, with the rest being aged in a mixture of second- and third-use oak barrels before blending and bottling.  No new oak is used for this wine.

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