Long time friend of more than 20 years Sylvain Fadat of Domaine du Aupilhac rewarded himself and his friends after a long day of work at the annual Montpeyroux Toutes Caves Ouvertes, which loosely translated means "All cellars open."
For a Sunday in April, let alone Easter Sunday, the wine producing town in the hills of the Languedoc was jam packed with people, all of whom came to taste the wines of the 21 Montpeyroux producers.
Alain Chabanon was there, pouring three wines. So too were Domaine L'Aigueliere, Villa Dondona, Mas des Quernas and many more.
There were strolling musical troops, local artisan's cooking up a storm, but most of all there was wine. Lots of wine. Rose. White and reds. Some were AoC Terrasses du Larzac while others, and really the more interesting wines were IGP, the new name for Vin d'Pay wines that don't conform to the local appellations rules. This is where grapes like Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and even Sauvignon Blanc fell.
But the event was topped off when Sylvain, at the end of the night, went deep into his cellar and pulled out the 1989 Aupilhac Montpeyroux and a 2001 Les Cocalieres Rouge. These are now like children who have grown up. They are mature, but not yet adults.
For the 28 year young Montpeyroux red, now the fourth time in recent history I have tasted it, I have to wonder will it ever get to old despite it losing it's label long ago?
Then there was the 2001 Les Cocalieres Rouge. This too was a first of sorts, as from the 2001 harvest Sylvain made a single barrel of wine from the new vineyard he had cleared and planted in 1997/98.
And just as we enjoyed back in the fall during a visit to Seattle, as i pulled a bottle of this true Aupilhac rarity from my cellar, the 2001 Les Cocalieres Rouge again defied description, being as good as any Chateauneuf du Pape or Hermitage wine made in the Rhone. Sylvain's careful vinification of the Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache was there, and like even more recent vintages the rich notes of berries, cherries, plums, a hint of the 'la Garrigue" and a semi-soft caramel tone, shines through.
Back to the 89 Montpeyroux. Of late I've had older reds from Bordeaux-a stunning Beycheville out of a 3 litre bottle, the ethereal Vega Sicilia Unico and of course a 1989 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. Add the 1989 Aupilhac Montpeyroux to that list of stunners. Here was a wine that was perfectly in balance and harmony. The oak was long gone, as were the tannins, but the deep and rich fruit flavors of the five grapes was so perfectly structured. And, this was not the first aged Aupilhac that has given me that visceral feeling of greatness. The same impression comes from Sylvain's 1991, 1993, 2004 and 2005 Montpeyroux reds, and likely, as the more recent vintages age, so will others.
These are two masterfully made wines, that are aging so nicely. While the Languedoc has been overshadowed lately by the more powerful by wines from the Roussillion, and rarely gets the respect it deserves as it's so close to the Rhone Valley, producers like Sylvain Fadat deserve to be known, as these wines are not for the timid, nor are they wines to be drunk today or tomorrow.
As these two bottles prove, the benefits of proper cellaring and aging allow for great enjoyment. And for Sylvain, that meant opening these up for his dearest and closest friends and family.