Andrew Guard

2016 IGP Aude Blanc 'Aux Amis de Ma Soeur', Jean-Baptiste Senat

This is white wine produced from 70% Grenache Gris and 30% Grenache Blanc, it’s piercingly fresh and floral with faint hints at pear and stone, the fact that the grapes were grown at altitude keeps this wine tight, fine and mineral. In fact you could be forgiven for thinking that this had a slug of the Chablis in it such is it's moreish flavour and mineral nature. Super!

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.