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2016 La Chapelle de Bébian, Prieuré Saint Jean de Bébian, Coteaux de Languedoc

“Poised and elegant with a brooding undercurrent of intensity, let’s call it the Brando of the Languedoc.” Jonny Wren

The Languedoc has long been a favourite of mine for great value reds but every once in a while I discover a producer that sets themselves apart from their contemporaries. My most recent discovery has been the stunning La Chapelle de Bebian, produced by Prieuré Saint Jean de Bebian, an organic winery situated just outside Pézenas. I had a small allocation of this last year and sold the lot after showing it in a couple of tastings. I have received another small parcel and I am delighted to say that this glorious wine is showing better than ever!

The estate has quite a pedigree with vineyards first planted here by Cistercian Monks in the 12th century, around the same time they built the chapel that gives the wine its name. Fast forward to the 1970s for the beginning of its modern day history when owner and visionary, Alain Roux, planted new vines from buds taken from some of the finest producers in the Rhone (Chave & Rayas). He was convinced he had the ‘terroir’ to produce wine of a quality never previously seen in the Languedoc and he succeeded. The current owners bought the estate in 2006 and have invested hugely in a state of the art winery. Vineyards cover 30 acres and are divided in to 45 blocks with three different soil varieties (limestone, basalt & pudding stones), we’re talking the Burgundy of the south here but without the extortionate pricing.

Another Burgundy comparison is the tiny production and with a vintage as exceptional as 2016 I have snapped up every case that I can get. The cuvée is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Mourvédre from organic vines of over 40 years old. Soils are river gravels which are the pudding stones famed by Chateauneuf du Pape. The wine is aged for 20 months in cement tanks, no oak, and this is where the purity of the fruit comes from. There’s no fining or filtering too so it’s minimal intervention from the vine to the bottle – and when you have a ‘terroir’ like Prieure Saint Jean de Bebian, that can only be a good thing.

2016 La Chapelle de Bébian, Prieuré Saint Jean de Bebian, Coteaux de Languedoc (Organic)

A ripe aroma of black cherry, plum, blackcurrant with hints of earthy minerality. On the palate, it’s silky, poised and elegant with a brooding undercurrent of intensity, let’s call it the Brando of the Languedoc. Nearing its peak but will continue to drink beautifully for 3-5 years, probably longer. Magnificent value and my red wine of the year so far.” Jonny Wren

£110 per case (6 bottles) & £115 per case (3 magnums)

Magnums can be sold individually on request. Wine available subject to remaining unsold.

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