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A look at Syrah

Syrah is at the heart of the St Chinian appellation and a grape that is very close to the heart of both Laurent and his father Henri. Although our production now is almost 50% white and rosé, our passion for creating quality Syrah-based wines is where it all began for us.

Henri was pivotal in establishing the Syrah grape as a quality varietal, and has been given the nickname locally of 'Monsieur Syrah', because of his obsession and devotion to this grape. Henri was passionate about showing the world that Syrah could make wines of great quality and finesse in the Languedoc, but he knew that getting the right vineyard site was critical. Henri understood that the best grapes would come from hillside plots, rather than the valley and this is where he planted his first Syrah vines in the 1970s. The soils on the hillsides are of very poor fertility and extremely rocky - he often had to use dynamite to break up the huge boulders of limestone, before he could even contemplate establishing a vineyard. Like with Laurent, when he first talked about planting Albarino, the local vignerons and farmers thought that Henri was crazy to try planting vines in such poor and inaccessible soils. Luckily for us, Henri persisted and now we have vineyard plots that have some very old Syrah vines.

Bardou is one of these lieu-dit or specific plots of Syrah, just visible on the hill above the vineyards at Cazal Viel and the vines here are over 35 years old. The vineyard is 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and we harvest the grapes about a week earlier than is usual for St Chinian, and we also harvest by night, meaning that we retain the optimal levels of acidity with perfectly ripe sugars in the grape. We pump over to ensure a gentle extraction of colour and tannin and we part age the wine in new oak (55%) and 1 year old barrels (45%) for 14 months, which adds texture and roundness to the finished wine.

As autumn progresses, Bardou is the perfect accompaniment to a log fire and a warming, hot dinner like a beef casserole, or slow-cooked beef cheeks. If you prefer vegetarian pairings, we have found that braised wild mushrooms with herbs, served on hot, buttered sourdough toast is also delicious, followed by some hard cheeses! Cheers!

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