The landscape along the road heading north from Pézenas to Roujan and Gabian, then on towards Bédarieux, is almost completely dominated by vineyards. It is a landscape we know well, having been coming to this region of Languedoc on and off for the last 20 years or so. Indeed, Les Vignerons de La Carignano, the quaintly-named grower co-operative in Gabian, which lies 10 kilometres or so north of Pézenas, was one of the first wine-related visits I ever made, back in the days when I was a mere wine “amateur” (or even novice!). At the time, La Carignano was blazing a bit of a trail for Languedoc wines, garnering much praise from the likes of Oz Clarke. And they were indeed very good wines.
La Carignano has long since ceased to exist - as have many other co-operatives in the region - having struggled to adapt to the changing market, dwindling demand (from both home and foreign markets) and competition from the ever-increasing number of independent growers. The upside was that some quality vineyards came up for sale. And so it was that younger vignerons like Emmanuel Pageot and his wife Karen Turner were able to seize the opportunity to move in and inject new life - and to realise the potential of those established vineyards and some great (and very varied) terroir. I first met Emmanuel at The Outsiders tasting in London in November 2012 and really loved the wines that he was making. So it was great to meet up again with Emmanuel in 2013, this time in his cellar in Gabian.
The Turner Pageot vineyards are mostly in small parcels, dotted around the hillsides surrounding the village. They have several different parcels of Grenache and Syrah, plus Mourvedre, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, plus a small amount of Marsanne. Altitudes range between 200 and 300 metres above sea level, and the aspects and soil types are many and varied, including schiste, clay-limestone, volcanic basalt/limestone and bauxite.
The cellar and house are situated in the middle of the village - it is quite small, but well-equipped, and they are in the process of buying the house next door, which will effectively give them twice the living space and a much larger cellar. Unlike many growers (especially in the south) Karen and Manu like to encourage warm fermentations for their grapes (anything up to 30C) and, aside from the very occasional stuck fermentation, prefer not to add yeast, relying on the naturally-occurring yeasts to do their job. And apart from occasional spraying of sulphur and copper in the vineyards, they use no sulphites until the point of bottling, and even then, no more than 4 to 6 milligrams per litre. The aim is to have less than 20 mg/l of free sulphites in the finished wine. The reds are unfiltered. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention (though you may have already guessed!) that they are fully certified as both organic and biodynamic.You can read my full report on our 2013 visit to Turner Pageot on the Leon Stolarski Blog.