This year's Decanter World Wine Awards Regional Trophy for White Languedoc-Rousillon over £15 went to Domaine de Vénus, L'Effrontée, Côtes du Roussillon 2011 (14%)

Tasted against:

  • No other Golds in this category


Jean-François Negre had owned a vineyard in Margaux for 20 years before the lure of southern sunshine and old-vine fruit brought him to Roussillon’s Vallée l’Agly in 2002.

Adding to his Domaine de Vénus holdings little by little, his first vintage was in 2003 with only seven hectares of fruit. By 2007 the estate had expanded to incorporate a diverse number of west- and north-facing parcels at altitudes of between 300m and 500m in St-Paul-de-Fenouillet, numbering 15ha in all.

Soil types here are dark shale, chalky clay and granitic rock, and vines are buffeted by winds for 300 days a year, giving the Vénus wines an unexpected delicacy and freshness in such an sunny part of France. Gilles Gavigaud is the vineyard manager (he sold Nègre some of the vines he now maintains) and Nathalie Abet, a native of Versailles and enthusiast of local grape varieties, works as winemaker.

L’Effrontée, meaning cheeky or audacious, is grown on a 3ha site on schist soils, with an average vine age of 50 years. Grenache Gris comprises 80% of the blend, with Carignan Blanc and Macabeu accounting for the balance, making for a richly textured wine with an admirable balance of freshness and ripe quince and citrus fruit flavours.

Written by Decanter