Another enjoyable tasting event yesterday, with a return trip to Limoux to meet Laurent Girault (manager) and James Kinglake (owner), both pictured below (left and right, respectively), of Domaine Begude. Patrons of Oddbins 7 or 8 years ago will be familiar with these wines; Begude was just one of a popular cohort of lines from owner Bertie Eden that they stocked, the others coming from his mini-Empire including Chateau Maris (Minervois), Montahuc (St-Jean de Minervois – I thought the wine a benchmark Muscat) and others, all gathered together under the Comte Cathare umbrella.
Since 2003 the Begude estate has been in the ownership of Kingslake, a fact reflected by my own admittedly dated profile of Comte Cathare, but strangely not by Eden’s own site, making it at least six years out of date. Kinglake is a refugee from life in the City, where he traded shares, and it is clear that he is much happier with his new role as proprietor of Begude, which he runs with Girault, who he appointed the same year he took possession.
Today the estate focuses on Vin de Pays, Sauvignon Blanc (fresh, very true to the variety, with good and lively acidity, exceptional for a Languedoc Sauvignon), Chardonnay (which comes with a little Chenin blended in) and Pinot Noir Rosé. There is also a Vin Mousseux de Qualité, 100% Chardonnay, produced for home consumption only – a shame as it outclasses a number of Blanquettes I have tasted. These wines account for 80% of production, with the other 20% being Limoux, two wines, a screwcapped example (as are all the above still wines) and a prestigious L’Etoile de Begude, the only wine under cork, generally sourced from the best vines on a south-facing slope next to the house. The range is solid, but the L’Etoile is undoubtedly the star (as the name should suggest) as indicated by it being listed at Relais Bernard Loiseau in Burgundy – not bad for a Limoux Chardonnay!
As with my Rives-Blanques visit, I will provide a full write up with all my notes on my return.
I also tasted a fascinating red made by Laurent Girault on his own 2 hectares far to the east – more on that later.