We now head for a Corbières estate, Chateau La Voulte-Gasparets, located in Gasparets, a tiny village with two parts , the other being Boutenac . It is located between Carcassonne and Narbonne, just a few kilometers south of the motorway . We have been crossing several times the "Canal du Midi", this living wonder-waterway built in the 18th century to haul goods and raw material across the country and wich is now mainly used to visit the region on leasure barges. I guess in the past wine casks were transiting through it to big cities and make their way to other places like Paris .
We reach Gasparets, a quiet little village . Standing in the middle of a square next to the domaine , a green statue erected by the municipal council may 25th 1901, to celebrate the new lever fountain beneath . In the basket that the republican statue holds dearly, I see grapes...
We ring at Domaine's family house in Gasparets at about noon, and Patrick Reverdi opens the door .
His son Laurent, who is about 30 years old, leads us to the tasting room .
They make the 3 wine colours here . The Boutenac terroir ( name of the other vilage Gasparets is tied to ) has well integrated Grenache and Carignan grape varieties . The soil is poor and thus favorable . Low yields . Here , they embarked on the search for quality wines about 20 years ago . 7 generations in the winery . The founder of the estate, Mr Romain Pauc, built the buildings as well as organized the vineyard . Even though in the post-phyloxera era, the trend was toward productivity and high yields, he planted the Grenache and Carignan vineyards that today are the base of their best wines . Pebble soil . 63 hectares altogether . White : 3 hectares ; Rosé : 6-9 hectares ; The rest for reds . There's some work in the vineyard, of course . Pruning is important . They are not so many to do the work : Father, son, a cousin , a worker . Plus 30 people hired for hand harvest . All the vineyard harvested manually here ; Syrah first , Mourvedre last .
Their white varieties here are Grenache Blanc, Rolle, and Macabeu . They also make 150 hectoliter of rosé ( 20 000 bottles ). Not much even though people like rosé in summer . This is bled rosé . Low temperature fermentation in stainless vats .Reds are all made in carbonic maceration . No destemming . Their red "cuvée
reservée" stays 7 months in casks (2-3 year old casks) . The other cuvée, Romain Pauc, has 12 months in new casks ( 20% new, 80% 1-2 year old casks ) . The wine range in the Domaine is quite short : 1 white, 1 rosé , and 2 reds . It has no relation with wine , but I join this picture ( left ) of the WW1 wall monument with the names of fallen soldiers from the village . That such a tiny village lost so many sons gives an idea of the bloodshed for all of France ...
We now taste :
__1 White . Chateau La Voulte-Gasparets, Corbières, Blanc 2004 . Bottled 15 days ago . Fleshy . 2,5-3 grams residual sugar . A bit of acidity . Can wait a little . Grenache 50%, Rolle 40%, Macabeu 10% . Each year they leave a little residual sugar for the fruity, elegant side . Nose is fresh . In the mouth too . Colour : Clear, with a green touch . Macabeu brings the rounde touch , he says . This grape variety is very sweet, the grapes are very small, also . 6,65 Euro .
__2 Red . Chateau La Voulte-Gasparets, Corbières , cuvée reservée 2003 . Very very nice . Bottle opened several hours earlier . He says , better to wait 8-9 months before drinking it though . And decant 1/2 hour before . Has 4-5 years of potential laying down . This 2003 will have a higher concentration than 2002 . 7,65 Euro .
__3 Red . Chateau La Voulte-Gasparets, Corbières, cuvée Romain Pauc 2002 . 4 to 8 years potential laying down . Stayed 2-3 years in casks . Dark red colour . 20-25 hectoliter/hectare . Very nice wine . Truffle notes, says B. Not yet reached full maturity , out host says : Needs a few more months . 15 Euro .
We thank Laurent Reverdi for his time and head for a nice place to picnic : This is the first day of our trip the temperature allows it . We drive to an old chapel 500 meters from the village, seat along a vineyard and eat under the sun . Total quietness . Smoke in the distance points to someone burning vineshoots .
I finish eating, walking along a freshly plowed vineyard, where signs of a favorite activity in the french countryside rust on the ground . A used cartridge , wich missed or hit, who knows ? The pebbles are so round , they look as if they come from a river bed .
Chateau La Voulte-Gasparets . Phone 33(0)4 68 27 07 86 Fax 33(0)4 68 27 41 33