Andrée’s Great Midi Wine Trek: day three

Today we headed into the Minervois to cellars where we’ve sourced many great wines over the years. There’s this old b/w photo I cherish of me and our first supplier, old Jean Cabrol, eating outside. The photographer had insisted we move the table out of their tiny, dark house. Madame might not have been best pleased. But a woman who, every vintage, endured having her marital bed propped up on a slope so Jean could get his grapes down through the trapdoor below, has no real problem with a moved table.

The Cabrols are gone now, alas, but we work a lot with their successors. Laure-Minervois was where we sourced our Syrah for that very popular dark ‘Garage’ we made … in the garage at La Clarière, until we moved into Le Chai au Quai. People keep asking if we could bring it back. Well, we do have an empty garage???

We wander about looking at vineyards (which is what we do for a living). Cat takes a fancy to one of the little stone shelters which dot the landscape up here. Take it home? These … I forget their name, sheltered the vignerons during the heat of the day or when the cold wind blew. It was after all, a long walk back to the village.


A rather statelier home is the Domaine de Coussergues, not far from Sete at Mont Blanc. Next stop. It was home in the ‘90s to our Midi Flying Winemaker team … not in the splendid Baronial halls but in the vast, dark, cavernous cellars. Jean-Marc started here. The Baron is away but his son gives us the tasting under the watchful eye of Great, Great etc Grandfather, the Admiral.

Then – after a quick visit in Pinet to taste a Picpoul we buy – back up to the hills. This time St Chinian and the marvellous Co-op cellar at Roquebrun. Children were swimming in the river below, the gardens were sub-tropical (this place must have a very mild micro-climate). Schist soils again, climate, old vines; the correct recipe. But, above all, a very talented man in charge. VERY. For me, it’s like another Embres et Castelmaure. Cat loved the wines. Mark and I stuffed as much as we could into the car. (Well worth the discomfort of the rear-seat passenger; me).

We lingered late, again. So the posh hotel wouldn’t feed us and we finished up sneaking in the pizzas. But that was fine. I’d have fallen asleep at the table anyway. There are times when fast food is better.

Great trip, Andrée. Thanks. Lots of ideas. Cat really loves this region and is now v. fired up to bring in a collection of ‘The Midi’s Finest’. I quote her “if I had £15 to spend on a bottle from anywhere in the world. No question, it would be from The Midi”. Right, Cat my love; let’s see how many we can persuade to join us in that!

All interested should give us a call, we’ll note your name and make you a very special offer.

P.S. Cat’s just gone to Chile for a couple weeks work but will still be working on the Midi.

About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!