September, 2019, I visited Languedoc in the South of France on a worry-free, Covid-free wine-buying trip. I wrote about it in this paper at the time. I visited the region`s up-and-coming “Domaine La Lauzeta”, the creation of Englishman Tom Hills, organic-artisan wine producer of Saint-Chinian, a small appellation north west of Beziers. The first pressings for Tom`s new “Jauzimen Rosé” were already in tank when we arrived, and so it was Tom had time to take us around his vineyards, with some days spare before harvest was due to begin for his red wines. We took in the scrubland all around, covered by oak, chestnut, hazelnut, and cherry trees. “The garrigue”, as it is known, a feast for the senses, taking in mimosa, almond and peach blossom, blackberries, and wild roses, along with the herbal aromas of fennel, rosemary, juniper, lavender, and thyme. Standing on a hilltop there, the view stretches south across the salt marshes to the Mediterranean coast, and north to the distant Caroux mountains, stark, hilly, and beautiful. Beneath our feet the schist terroir, which, together with “the garrigues”, Tom says, is reflected in his wines, like an echo. It`s in the aroma, he explained. Tasting the blue-black fruit that cool September morning, Grenache grapes they were, hanging from gnarled old vines, I was reminded how wonderful life is. And so you can imagine my pleasure when Tom walked into our shop just last week with a bottle of his 2019 “Corteza Red”, from that very vineyard, at least in part, of that same vintage, a blend of 40% Grenache, 34% Syrah, 14% Carignan and 12% Cinsault grapes. “I hope it gives you a sense of the south”, he remarked. And it did. The captivating aroma, the taste of smooth blue-black fruit, riper now. I was immediately transported back to Saint-Chinian and September last year, to worry-free, Covid-free days. Even for just a while. Cheers, Tom.
Tom`s delicious new release organic red is now available in the shop, £19.99 per bottle. I can`t recommend it enough.