Red Languedoc-Roussillon over £10
Ch des Karantes, La Clape, 2009
A silver medal for the 2007 vintage in our 2009 competition; a gold medal for the 2008 vintage in our 2010 competition; and now a gold medal and the Languedoc-Roussillon Over £10 Trophy for the 2009 vintage in our 2011 competition: Château des Karantes is a lark ascending.
It’s good news for La Clape, too: that former island of limestone just outside the Roman harbour of Narbonne, now incorporated in the mainland by the receding shoreline of the Mediterranean.
Of all of Languedoc’s great red-wine terroirs, this is the one closest to the sea – and the result is some of the region’s most sensually enticing and lushly textured reds.
You couldn’t actually get any closer to the sea than Château des Karentes: its 50 per cent Syrah component grows around 500 m from the shoreline, and the 10 per cent of Mourvèdre is even nearer (the rest of the blend is Grenache grown in deeper soils set back from the sea a little). “There’s a cliff behind us,” says estate director Nicolas Laverny, “and the sea breezes are very important for moderating the temperatures in the summer, while in the pre-harvest period sea mists help keep the vines fresh, especially the Mourvèdre.”
In this seaside position, the pressure from housing development has been sometimes irresistably strong – but the whole site has now been classified as a protected zone, so this large 193-ha property (with its 44 ha of vines) will be safe for the future.
Its unusual name goes back to that of a bishop of Carcassonne who bought land here and installed monks to work the vines in earlier times. Nowadays the property is jointly owned by American Walter Knysz and US-based French wine importer Jean-Jacques Fertal – and the US, unsurprisingly, takes the bulk of exports.