In this mosaic of very different terroirs, the Gaillac vineyard is situated 50 km east of Toulouse, in the direction of Albi, in the Tarn departement. The vineyard stretches over both sides of the Tarn and to the north up to the medieval town of Cordes. An ancient vineyard it hosts some very individual grape varieties such as Mauzac, Braucol and l’En de Lel. Whilst many acceptable wines are produced here, we recommend a winemaker who concentrates on combining the traditional grape varieties with modern techniques, resulting in wines which encompass the specific characteristics of Gaillac and remain very drinkable.
Domaine de Labarthe is a family run estate owned by the family of Jean Albert. Jean Albert has a very high reputation within Gaillac, as he aspires to produce wines which are very faithful to the local and distinctive character of Gaillac, but employs modern techniques to produce wines which are clean, fresh and full of style.
Gaillac can be a difficult appellation to recognise, as many growers tend to minmise the use of traditional (and more difficult) grape varieties and maximise the use of better known varietals such as Gamay, Syrah and Cabernet. They produce perfectly good, but rather anonymous wines – i.e. they could come from anywhere. The problem is that with the local grape varieties (Mauzac, Len de L’El, Braucol, Duras) it can be much harder to produce really good rather than “rustic” wines. However, this is one domaine where it works – welll-made wines of great character and distinctiveness.
Increasingly his son now undertakes much of the day-to-day work in the vineyard and cellar, and this combination of youth and experience bodes well for continued development of the domaine.
There are several styles of wine from Domaine de Labarthe:-
Gaillac AC Rouge Tradition – A big soft red with tons of fruit from Braucol and Duras grapes supported by a small proportion of Cabernets and Merlot. Full-bodied, elegant and smooth – with aromas of blackcurrant and raspberry
Gaillac AC Rouge Cuvée Guillaume – Sumptuous oaked red from 80% Braucol grapes (also known as Fer Servadou) – tons of vanilla and soft red fruits (cherries)
Gaillac AC Blanc Sec – A delightful dry white made from the tradirional grapes of this area (Mauzac (also known as Blanquette de Limoux) and Len de L’EL which impart fresh apple and pear tones. This is supplemented by the addition of a little Sauvignon Blanc to add body and finesse.
Sparking Gaillac Brut (Methode Gaillacoise) – A very distinctive Sparkling wine from the South West of France, made using only the Mauzac grape (also used in Limoux) – this is a fruity dry sparkler with good mousse and a slight tang of citrus – quite different!
(NB There is also a local speciality called Gaillac Perlé which is a slightly petillant dry white wine)
Gaillac AC Doux Les Grains d’Or – Stunning dessert white made from 100% Len de l’El grapes – late harvested and vinified in oak – golden, rich and well-balanced, it develops flavours of honey and quince in the mouth together with hints of praline and conserved fruits. Excellent served chilled as an aperitif or as a dessert (pudding) wine.
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Address: Domaine de Labarthe, 81150 Castanet (Tarn) (see map)