We were introduced to the wines of Domaine Giroflet by way of a gift from our friend Bruno Henri, owner of the Taverne du Port in Marseillan. And what an eye-opener those couple of bottles provided. For Giroflet is very definitely one of the most exciting discoveries we have made in recent years.
Laurent Girault's day job is as winemaker at Domaine Bégude, a well-known, fairly large-scale winery near Limoux. He and his wife Murielle actually live in the village of Abeilhan, near Pézenas, where they make small quantities of high quality wines, in a small rented cellar on another estate. They have 3 different plots of vines, which total little more than 1.7 hectares - tiny, by any grower's standards. One plot is near Pézenas, 0.8 hectares of gnarly old (50 year-plus) Grenache and Cinsault on stony soil with red clay. The other plots are on clay-limestone soil, just outside Abeilhan. One (0.3 ha) consists of young Grenache, whilst the other (0.6 ha) is planted with just a few rows each of Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne, Petit Manseng, Petit Arvine and Chenin Blanc, all of which goes into a deliciously quirky white "field blend".
The total annual production is just 5,000 bottles. The viticulture is largely biodynamic, working, harvesting and bottling according to the phases of the moon and Laurent makes all of the wines using only minute quantities of additional SO2. Most of the wine is aged only in vat, although a small proportion of the red spends time in old oak barrels, which have previously seen at least 7 vintages, so no oak flavours at all. The resulting wines are beautifully pure, clean and fresh - and in the case of the Rouge and Blanc, considerably complex and age-worthy.