Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

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Coutelou, news on 2016, 2017 and 2018

En francais

Cartes des voeux 2015 and 2016


Carte des Voeux 2017, election year

Every January Jeff Coutelou sends out to customers a Carte Des Voeux, a New Year’s card, in which he sends out information about the previous year’s events in Puimisson, thoughts about the vintage and general news. The card is always fronted by a striking, witty image and this year’s was no exception.




The main headlines from this year’s card concerning the wines were:

  • The difficulties of the 2017 vintage, the extremely hot weather and drought and how only a timely wind from the sea (brise marine) saved the harvest
  • The small harvest, though one of very good quality
  • Details of the likely cuvées which Jeff blended in November, these include regulars such as 7, Rue De La Pompe, Vin Des Amis, PM Rosé, Classe, Flambadou, Flower Power and the Blanc but also the Amphora wine from 2016 and …… La Vigne Haute! (Happy writer here)
  • New products, spirits and ‘tonics’. Gin, Fine and Grappa together with a Kina (a wine flavoured with plants) which is delicious.

Other news headlines:

  • The 2016 vintage as proof of how nature decides. The wines were slow to develop and, so, Jeff decided to sit on up to 75% of them rather than commercialise unready wines. (That said, the 2016 bottles which I have opened recently have been very good indeed, well worth waiting for. Good news for the customer with patience, less so for Jeff’s turnover).
  • Problems in the vineyards due to heavy rain in late 2016 meant that new plantings had to be postponed.The problems caused by vandalism in autumn 2017 have damaged the work and progress of biodiversity in the vineyards, eg hedges and trees burned.

Perhaps most startling of all the Domaine will, in future, no longer be named Mas Coutelou. The authorities informed Jeff that a domaine releasing wines as Vin De France rather than AOC or IGP is not permitted to use the term Mas. In Jeff’s case this seems daft as that is the family name of his mother and founders of the Domaine. No matter the logic and common sense, the wines will now simply be called Coutelou.

As for 2018.

The plantations foreseen for 2017 will, hopefully, take place this Spring, eg next to Ste Suzanne where traditional and older grape varieties will take their place amongst the dozens already planted across the domaine.


The sodden vineyard which could not be planted in 2017

Jeff intends to bring back to life the parcels in the Saint Chinian area which belonged to his father. They will be tidied, replanted as necessary and improved with biodiversity as a core principle. In ten years we can look forward to a whole new range of Coutelou wines from this renowned region.


On Vintage and Video

Back in the UK and its grey climate after the blue skies of the Languedoc, the need for some colour was apparent. Other than friends and family it was a vintage and some videos which helped me to find some.


The vintage was 2009. I first opened a bottle of one of my favourite wines the Cuvade Préciouse from Domaine Montesquiou, a dry Jurancon. This would be just about my house white wine, I love its dry, zesty flavours with just the faintest hint of sweetness on the finish. I often drink my bottles fairly quickly as it is so attractive but I tucked a few away and found this 2009 lurking on my wine racks. Lesson learned, I need to age more of these bottles. The years had added a directness, softened the zestiness a little and with the slight oak notes this was very much a Burgundy like wine. Just lovely.

I then opened a 2009 Motus from Domaine Treloar. 96% Mourvèdre (with a touch of Grenache) this was smooth as silk, tannins melted into a cocktail of red fruit flavours with great length and complexity. A wine truly at its peak and delicious. A prime example of the quality of the vintage in the Languedoc Roussillon region and of how good Mourvèdre can  be.

Intrigued by the success of those two bottles I then opened (all on different nights I should say) a Rhone 2009. It was Jeff who encouraged me to visit Domaine Du Cayron in Gigondas a few years ago. Run by the Faraud sisters their wines are made from the same grape varieties as the Languedoc and it is interesting to compare the regions. Very peppery, liquorice notes and dark red fruits this softened through the evening and still has the ability to age further. Classic Rhone, a lovely wine.

2009 was a good vintage and the benefits of maturing wine were clear with these bottles. A coincidence of two bottles became a mini examination of a vintage and it passed with flying colours.

bonum vinum

The other thing which brightened the days was the blog post of Jacques Bonum Vinum after a visit to Mas Coutelou, in particular the accompanying interviews. Well worth listening to, (it will stretch your French it must be said), it captures the passion and spirit of sharing which typifies Jeff. A very good piece of work, highly recommended.