Winemaker Jean-Claude Zabalia has presided over Chateau St. Martin de la Garrigue for more than 20 years, making gradual modernizations, including the renovation of the cellars and the adoption of environmentally friendly (as opposed to strict organic) growing practices (he's certified by a French program called Terra Vitis--French only, sorry). Working slowly and carefully seems to be the way to go when you're overseeing a property that has a chapel that dates to the 9th Century and archeological evidence of human presence on the property since the Iron Age (in southern France, that's around 300 BC, give or take a few centuries). The 124-acre vineyard is near Pézenas, the hometown of Molière, and overlooks the Hérault River.
“Bronzinelle” is a blend of 43% Syrah, 18.5% Mourvèdre, 17.5% Grenache, and 21% Carignan.
The Syrah and Carignan are vinified using whole grape clusters; the Mourvèdre and Grenache are destemmed. The juices are blended at the end of fermentation, then spend 12-15 months in used barrels. The finished wine undergoes a series of rackings, but there is no filtration or fining.
Château Saint Martin de la Garrigue “Bronzinelle” Coteaux du Languedoc 2009: The wine has notes of cassis, laurel, thyme, and smoke; big black fruit flavors, and an almost creamy texture. A fine tannic structure underpins all this luxuriousness. This wants decanting; an hour seems about right. It was very good with grilled pork and couscous. At about $20 it provides a disproportionate amount of pleasure for the price. I was intrigued to learn that there is also a white version of Bronzinelle, made from marsanne, roussanne, grenache blanc, picpoul, viognier, and terret. Zabalia also makes a Picpoul de Pinet which has a super reputation and which I hope to run into one day. We got this at the Asheville Wine Market; I believe Josh at TableWine has it also, and may have waved a bottle of the white in front of me as well.
*When the crickets and insects are buzzing away during summer in the vineyard, the Languedociens say that they are 'bronzinent', hence the name “Bronzinelle.”