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Domaine du Peras Giroflet 2006

Also tasted during my visit to Begude was this wine, 2006 Giroflet, made by Begude’s manager Laurent Girault from the fruit of his family’s vines at Domaine du Péras. This is a fascinating brew. He makes a white and a red, each sourced from 1 hectare of vines, so the entire domaine is just 2 hectares. In just 1 hectare (planted in 1925) he has at least 16 different red varieties, all of which go into this single cuvée. I didn’t manage to make a note of all sixteen, but the list is headed up by Grenache which dominates the wine; then comes (in no particular order) Syrah, Cinsaut, Carignan, Mourvèdre (although Girault used the synonym Monastrell), Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir de la Calmette (a Petit Bouschet/Aramon cross), Aramon itself, and obviously 8 others.

Aramon is perhaps worthy of a moment’s consideration – although it is likely that you have never heard of it, it was once France’s most widely-planted variety. A workhorse variety which would give the peasant vignerons good returns (up to 400 hl/ha), the quality simply wasn’t there for the vine to maintain its position of dominance. Not at those yields, anyway! This tendency to yield great volumes of questionable worth was no doubt the origin of one of the variety’s synonyms, Pisse-Vin. When yields are controlled, however, the resulting wines are much more interesting – I am told. I don’t think it plays a sufficiently large role to really be noticed in this cuvée.

Domaine du Péras Giroflet (Vin de Table) 2006: Girault’s wine is fermented in steel, with an élevage half in steel, half in oak, for 24 months. It is bottled without fining or filtration. Immediately after opening it showed some fascinating character on the nose, with a meaty, animalistic, savage and rustic character, with little in the way of overt fruit other than some plum skin and baked liquorice. There was a little element of raisin to the fruit as well, although paradoxically this was mixed with a fresh and bright chracter on the palate. There was moderate weight, a complex panoply of meaty flavour, nice freshness in terms of middle-weight texture and acidity, and overall this had a good, clean substance and sappy-sour finish. A fascinating wine, which I grew to really appreciate as it opened up. I would recommend decanting for an hour or two. 17+/20

Although probably impossible to track down in the UK (I can’t see any stockists), it is available in the US from K&L for a fair price considering the price at the domaine, which is 70 Euros for 6.

2 Responses to “Domaine du Peras Giroflet 2006”

  1. I was just passing by so thought I might leave a further note on Aramon. 400 hl/ha takes ones breath away somewhat if you compare it to today’s yield norms. Bordeaux and Burgundy growers typically achieve 40-60hl/ha, the country’s drier regions rather less. With irrigation, Australians can deliver reasonable intensity at up to 10 tonnes/acre (about 200hl/ha if you take the solids out), a figure that the Germans can match with their most productive varieties.

    As you suggest at those yields the wine would have tasted like Pisse-vin, but that was not an issue. Aramon was for a long time blended with rocket fuel from Algeria, wines of massive colour, extract and alcohol, and in themselves also pretty well undrinkable. The genius was in bringing them together in a blend that turned out not just rather good but brilliantly good, at least at its super-low price (a consequence of the massive yields). This was the logic underpinning the French vin de table industry for a large part of the 20th century.

    The wheels fell off big-time in 1962 when Algeria won independence. Prior to that it’s staus was of a ‘Departement’, and its wines could legally be used in a national blend. Without the crutch provided by the strong wines from Africa, vin de table went into a tailspin from which it never recovered. 50% of the vineyards of the Midi have now gone, and some say it needs to lose a further 50% in order to become economically viable.

    I regret I have never tasted Aramon – growers were incentivised to grub it up – let alone the pre-1962 vin de table. Pity, like ‘hermitaged’ burgundy, it sounds rather intriguing.

  2. Hugo,

    Great to ‘see’ you here, and thanks for those words on Aramon and Algeria, absolutely fascinating. Like you I have never tasted it alone; this wine is, as far as I am aware, the closest I have come to it.