|CIVL buyers' trip: Gordon Coates|
|Written by Laura Heywood|
|Friday, 02 November 2012 10:24|
Stone, Vine & Sun buyer Gordon Coates was among the lucky few who headed to the Languedoc last week for the CIVL study tour, organised in conjunction with Harpers and designed to open buyers' eyes to the diversity on offer.
He shares his observations about the region and why the trip has led him to expand his offering.
Gordon Coates, Stone, Vine & Sun: "While the aim of such a trip is to generate new business, I also found it useful to benchmark wines from a couple of our existing suppliers against their peers; they showed well and I am reassured about the choices we have made. There were also several impressive wines from a handful of estates which I feel justify pursuing further with a view to finding space in our range.
"AOC Corbières on day one was perhaps the least coherent group of wines in terms of delivering a particular style typical of the local area, perhaps because it is one of the largest of the Languedoc appellations. They ranged from quite simple (and keenly priced) easy-drinking styles that could have been made almost anywhere in the world, through to the wild, challenging aromas and flavours of some of the more extreme organic and biodynamic wines, which clearly divided opinion among our group.
"For me day two concentrating on particular Languedoc terroirs was potentially the most interesting. From exploring the subtle differences between the wines of neighbouring Saint-Saturnin and Montpeyroux, to having the particular terroir of Gres de Montpellier explained – sands and galet stones similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but with a much stronger maritime influence. From a vantage point in the village of Arboras, Virgile Joly took the time to explain some of the history of the parcellated hillside vineyards that command a significant price premium over the vast expanse of flat land 5km to the south.
"Perhaps starting the third day at the picturesque Château du Prieure des Mourgues helped our mood, but the wines of Saint-Chinian showed a universally high level of quality and a definite sense of place. Several of the vignerons here were clearly taking a more global view and were quick to question us to gauge our needs and our views about the market."
A full account of the trip and the buyers' views appears in Harpers, out today.