Languedoc-Roussillon Rule-breakers, Aubert & Mathieu
A friend of mine gave me a bottle of wine a while back. Gorgeous stuff, but I couldn't get my hands on any. Then, just before Christmas, these wines became available to me!
I'm delighted with all of the wines that have recently arrived from Aubert et Mathieu, who are based in various regions in Languedoc and Roussillon.
Who are they? Anthony Aubert and Jean-Charles Mathieu are two good pals who want to "break the rules of the vineyard".
Well, now, it's all well and good to go breaking the rules in a vineyard, but only if you can show us that what you've done is worth the effort of breaking them.
It is very much the case here. Jancis Robinson is a big fan, as am I. And, once you've tried their wines, I'm sure you will be too.
These are vibrant, engaging and generous wines that are made not to shock, but to enjoy.
From a vineyard point of view, these chaps don't just work one plot of vines, rather, they take best sites and appellations in Roussillon and Languedoc and seek to create an identity of their own around these villages. They only farm vineyards that are organic or in organic conversion.
The wines certainly benefit from the warmth, terroir and indigenous varieties (mostly) that are so much part of the South of France experience. Any oak use is considered and supportive - no barrels feature as the focus in any of these wines. It is elegance of fruit, vineyard and climate that are the stars - just how we like it.
They point us in a new direction: they bring you a little down the road and say "this is where we should be going", rather than forcing you to go there. All good for us.
The other really important side to their project is their principled stance around the ecological impact of the wine industry.
Organic; carbon-neutral; eco-friendly, locally-sourced recycled lighter-weight glass bottles; bio-diversity in planting hundreds of trees and building bee hives... and while a large part of our reaction has been that this is excellent and necessary, the wines have got to be good to justify the noise!
And, again, they really are very good.
Mad labels too, but we don't mind - if it catches the attention of new drinkers and pays homage to a local historic artist at the same time, it's no bad thing... just check that the wines are worth it.
Not to sound like a stuck record or anything, but, yes, they are very much worth it.