Not long before our 2011 holiday to France, I received an email from a customer, who was on holiday in the Cahors region, alerting me to a grower whose wines had impressed him. He suggested that I might want to visit the estate, but unfortunately our route south took us some considerable way east of there. Nevertheless, he had mentioned us to the owners, and following a little email correspondence with them, I asked if they would be willing to send some samples to where we were staying in Languedoc.
Things worked out perfectly and samples of 3 different cuvées arrived in good time for me to transport back to the UK. We were very impressed, not to mention pleased to have "unearthed" (thanks to our intrepid customer!) a real hidden gem of a grower - and yet another on our list to be unavailable elsewhere in the UK. It is worth mentioning that the owners Mike and Sue Spring are British - which just goes to show that there are yet more "outsiders" making wine in the south of France than even we were aware of. And I have to say that they are doing a brilliant job.
We actually managed to visit Garinet, the following year, to meet Mike and Sue and to have a look at the winery and vineyards, and found them to be a charming and very friendly couple. Mike is (was - see footnote *) a passionate and skilled winemaker and they have an excellent website that offers masses of information about how they go about making the wines. Briefly, the estate comprises just 2.5 hectares - tiny, by anyone's standards - planted mainly to Malbec (for the Cahors), with a little Chardonnay and Sauvignon (for their Vins de Pays) and the vines are around 35 years old.
All of the red wines are made from 100% Malbec, and whilst they are made in a fairly traditional style, there are clearly sympathetic hands at work here, for they have an abundance of fruit and possess considerable charm and elegance. What's more, the wines are only released when they are approaching their drinking "window", which makes them even more remarkable for their brilliant value for money, considering the quality on offer and the fact that they are aged to perfection. Not that they need drinking quickly, for they are well worthy of cellaring for a further 5 to 10 years - and in the case of the Fut de Chene, possibly even longer. All-in-all, these are brilliant wines, which are amongst the finest bargains on our list.
* After a relatively short battle with an aggressive form of cancer, Mike Spring sadly passed away in February 2022. Sue tells me that she intends to remain in her beloved France, and will continue to sell the wines already made by Mike, under the name of Domaine du Garinet, although she plans to sell the vineyards to another local grower. If the new grower's wines turn out to be anywhere near the quality of those made by Mike, then they will be pretty damn good!