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25 Feb 2014 by Tamlyn Currin

LA MADURA, St-Chinian Mixed vineyards: clay-limestone, schist and red sandstone. Madura means 'ripe' in Occitan. The elegant, quietly spoken Cyril Bourgne studied oenology in Bordeaux and Dijon, and for eight years was the cellarmaster at Ch de Fieuzal. He bought Madura in 1998, 14 ha on the foothills of the Massif Central – a patchwork of clay and limestone, schist and red sandstone at 150 to 300 m. His is a hands-on approach of ploughing, organic plant-based fertilisers, canopy management to reduce the need for spraying, and hand-harvesting. Bourgne plants Carignan in the highest parcels, on limestone clay – in his experience this combination gives freshness, colour and structure. He also makes, rather unusually for St-Chinian, a Sauvignon Blanc – remarkably too! But most surprising of all was the news that he has recently planted some Albariño. Not very St-Chinian, of course, but I’m intrigued to taste the wine when those vines start producing. That Galician classic from Atlantic-sea-swept granite vineyards, grown on Mediterranean-wind-swept schist of St-Chinian? Only in the Languedoc… His wines all have a wonderful earthy honesty, but most of all, I find I really want to drink them. He makes real wine for real people. La Madura, Classic 2011 IGP Pays d'Oc 16.5 Drink 2013-2015 Close to St-Chinian, close to the mill, 230 m, limestone soil. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. In the future it will be a blend with Picpoul. Vinified in stainless steel and aged on lees for six months. Hazelnut and figs. Creamy and with some richness on the palate – but not overweight in any way at all. Incredibly green figgy! A hint of sweet baby peas and guava. A real slice of lime across the palate. Gorgeous with that prickle of citrus on the finish. (TC) 13%

La Madura, Grand Vin 2011 IGP Pays d'Oc 16.5 Drink 2013-2015 Bottled in September 2012. 100% Sauvignon Blanc, fermented and aged in one-year-old oak barrels with bâtonnage. Bright green tints in the glass. Deep, again a hint of fig, quite tropical with the subtlest hint of spice. Does need time. Quite textured. A Sauvignon for a rich creamy dish laced with tarragon – not an aperitif. (TC)

La Madura, Classic 2009 St-Chinian 16.5 Drink 2013-2016 Grenache and Carignan with a little bit of Mourvèdre and Syrah. Mixed terroir of schist and limestone. Syrah and Mourvèdre are in barrels and the rest in vat. Nice nub of intensity on this nose – brûlée plums. Ripe juicy fruit corseted in spicy tannins. Something snug and satisfying about this wine. Not huge length, but it delivers right across the palate. Lovely flare of acidity and sweet fruit intensity but that sweetness is extremely well contained and is neither fat nor hedonistic. A deft athletic balance here – winemaking with a light touch. I DO like Cyril Bourgne's wines. (TC) 14% €9 ex cellar

La Madura, Grand Vin 2009 St-Chinian 16.5 Drink 2014-2018 Mourvèdre and Syrah with a tiny bit of Grenache and Carignan. Syrah and Mourvèdre do malo in barrel and then stay in barrel for 12 months on lees. Bright regal crimson. Melded nose with ripe fruit and juniper and sweet liquorice. Lots of aniseed and lavender, very lifted. Muscular thick-pile tannins. Much more chewy than the Classic. The fruit seems sweeter, darker, more baked, but the tannins are more rugged, chunkier, and the spice is more prominent. Altogether carries more weight and is more beetle browed than the Classic. Less finesse, more staying power. But still with lovely balance – an immensely rewarding wine. (TC) 14.5%


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