For one afternoon of our trip we decided to head out of the St. Chinian region and head to La Liviniere in Minervois and after a bit of a journey we arrived and were welcomed by Laurent Coustal, a very genial Frenchman, looking more like a banker that a wine maker (though in truth it is his wife who actually makes the wine) and ushered in - starting with Printemps d'Eulalie 2005 Rose - perhaps the best Rose we tasted on the trip which had delicious red fruit and just a hint of liquorice on the palate - definately a light pink colour rather than the salmon or orange that Rose can creep towards.
By this stage we were beginning to enjoy ourselves, Laurent learning English phrases and us improving our French, and next up was Plaisir d'Eulalie 2004 - the basic chateau red made from 40% Grenache, 40% Carignan and 20% Syrah - red fruits to the fore, relatively simple but incredibly drinkable - especially in a wine that costs about £3.50 - deeply coloured, chewy and some clove and toasty aromas mixed in with rounded blackberries - the nose was a little closed - however subsequent tastings (we bought a case - and got it home in the little Clio!) have shown that this can really open up delightfully.
Up next was the Cuvee Prestige 2003 - around £5 - again plenty of colour and this time a suggestion that the wine will improve for perhaps a couple more years (Laurent thought perhaps 3-4 years m0re) - the vintage giving it extra fullness but also bringing it's drinking forward a couple of years a wine of great balance and structure, yet also with finesse and style and a little gentleness - not a great blockbuster as some of the Carignan dominated wines have been (this is grenache dominated) however spicy vanilla and black fruit flavours are delicious now - I can't wait to be writing on this in a few years time.
Last of all came La Cantilene 2004 - this is a Syrah dominated wine - so far more depth and power than the previous wine with black pepper and vanilla and a touch of rosemary and thyme - however at this stage my notes dried up - I began to panic - Laurent was taking a phone call and I realised - no cash - and I want some of this - no in fact I want a decent amount - much as I had loved the wines of St. Chinian it wasn't that these were better - but they were better value AND Katherine really liked them too! Fortunately despite apperances - there in the corner was a credit card machine - we were saved - so we duly placed our order - tried to pay - only to discover that Laurents daughter was on the internet so he couldn't get a line out! And eventually paid and to our delight were given a small parting present of a bottle of La Cantilene 2002 - a lesser vintage but nonetheless a delightful addition that I shall look forward to immensely!