Beziers in the Languedoc region of France was once the self-proclaimed wine capital of the world. Its importance was underlined by an incident involving local winemakers in 1907. Around 150,000 vineyard workers and their families from local communes gathered in the city to protest against foreign competition and smuggled wines. Violence ensued and politicians in Paris were forced to take action. The outcome was a law restricting chapitalisation, a process used with low quality grapes that involves adding sugar in order to increase the alcohol content.
It’s not clear whether the ancestors of Olivier Coste (pictured) took part in the protests. But it’s likely that they would have been there, as Domaine Montrose just outside Pezenas, 15 miles from Beziers, has been in his family since 1701. He makes no secret of his pride for the local terroir and the wines it produces. However, while history and tradition matter, the future is of much greater importance to Coste. He takes special care to make exceptional wines. And, with an eye on the environmental impact of the production process, he does so in a manner that is carbon neutral. Coste achieves that by financing green projects in order to offset all of the carbon emissions generated during the winemaking.
Alongside that zero carbon approach, Coste has adopted other measures that have a positive impact. When it comes to killing weeds, Domaine Montrose uses tools rather than chemical herbicides, there are no pesticides, and the fertiliser he applies is made from grape skins and seeds. In addition, he follows a regular tree planting programme to preserve the environment and uses lighter glass to create eco-friendly bottles. He is equally meticulous in other aspects of his job. The vineyard’s harvest takes place at night to avoid oxidation. The grapes are destemmed then left to macerate for 24 hours. They are then pressed and fermented at low temperature to deliver a fresh flavour and aroma. We are impressed by his caring and careful methods, but his wines also have to be good enough to make our list. And they certainly meet our exacting demands in terms of quality and value.
We are big fans of his rosé which is pale and fruity, with strawberry and blackberry flavours. Particularly refreshing on a warm summer’s evening, it’s also enjoyable if you’re sitting in front of the fire wistfully recalling that sun-filled holiday a few months back, or planning next year’s adventure. The white is made with 90% Viognier grapes combined with small amounts of Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The result is a light and smooth wine built around flavours of citrus and nuts that is great to drink on its own, or as a perfect match for fish and white meat. Coste also makes a red at Château de la Lauze which he bought with his sister Jeanne in 2018. Located in the Faugères appellation, the 42 hectare estate features a collection of 70 year old vines that allow the production of rich, complex wines based on Grenache Noir, Cinsault and Carignan.
Definitely worth a try, Coste’s wines are approachable and beautifully made. And, of course, while they’re steeped in history, his vineyards also have a social awareness that means you can drink them guilt-free. All orders of these three wines qualify for our 10% discount, so now is the ideal time to give them a try.