Natasha Hughes, 2016
Hand-picking at Domaine la Madura. Once you’ve got to grips with the appellation, make tracks for Domaine la Madura (Route de Salabert, 34360 Saint-Chinian, +33 (0)4 67 38 17 85, lamadura.com) for a tasting of some of Saint-Chinian’s most exciting wines. Winemaker Cyril Bourgne began his career at Pauillac’s Château Lynch-Bages before moving on to become the estate manager at Château de Fieuzal in the Graves. Cyril and his wife made the move southwards in 1998, having been impressed by the diversity of Saint-Chinian’s terroirs. All this complexity of soil and micro-climate is distilled down to four cuvées each year – two whites and two reds – and you can taste them in la Madura’s splendid new tasting room, which offers panoramic views over the nearby vineyards. I love the freshness and bright acidity of the thoroughly quaffable 2014 Classic White, IGP Pays d’Oc, a blend of 20 per cent piquepoul and 80 per cent sauvignon blanc, while the 2012 Grand Vin Red is a classic Saint-Chinian of great depth and complexity. It is a savoury wine of great finesse, with brisk acidity and fine-grained tannins that support a persistent, perfumed finish.