Andrew Guard

2015 Minervois Rouge 'La Nine', Jean-Baptiste Senat

This is a red wine produced from 100 year old vines Carignan, 60 year old vines Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Syrah. A glowing and vibrant  purple-red in the glass. Attractive and pure aromas of dark cherry and blackberry fruits with notes of garrigue and spice. The mouthfeel shows excellent concentration and depth but with freshness and succulence, it also has great length and persistence. This wine, made for the past twenty vintages is a stalwart in the best Parisian Wine bars, Bistros and Brasseries these days, it's a pitch perfect Languedoc red.

The vignoble of Minervois is visually and functionally hard. Staring at a field of rocks from which gnarled vines struggle to emerge and plump up a few angry grapes isn’t like gazing over the verdant plains and hillsides of certain other regions and one can see the work that will be necessary, and the heartbreak that sprouts from the earth in every weathered vine.

Minervois is known thanks to a lot of hard work on the part of a relatively small number of dedicated producers but it’s most definitely not a well-known name and the search for greater acknowledgement is an uphill struggle; it doesn’t help that a lot of the wines that carry the name never really rise above average... Thankfully, there are a few producers who put in the necessary work to make great wine in the Minervois and their vines reward the attention given to them with fabulous quality fruit. Vigneron 'rebel' Jean-Baptiste Sénat is one such producer. A star in the Languedoc.

His vines are a mix – carignan, grenache, mourvèdre, cinsaut and a little bit of syrah – some of them quite old (the carignan, for example, comes from 1902). Sénat works organically, by hand, with natural yeasts, and without refrigeration, letting his casks (large and small) and subterranean vats find a natural balance. His pleasure in wine, he insists, comes from the “glissant” of balanced, healthy wine.