The Languedoc's oldest winemaking region could historically be a minefield in terms of style and quality. Today wine lovers can buy with far less trepidation, as the wines have never benten better, writes James Lawther MW.
Top 10 St-Chinian wines
Les Terrasses de Gabrielle, 12 de la Noche en la Habana 2012
A white St-Chinian produced from Roussanne and Grenache Blanc and partly aged in acacia barrels. Lovely honeyed, floral scent. Palate rich and opulent. Better acidity and balance than the 2011.
Price: N/A UK +33 (0)6 31 77 11 38
Borie La Vitarèle, Les Schistes 2011
Syrah and Grenache. Powerful but complex wine with blueberry, plum, spice and black pepper notes. Ripe and round on the palate with fine, silky tannins. Firm, persistent finish.
Price: £17.50 H2Vin
Domaine La Madura, Grand Vin 2010
Mainly Mourvèdre and Syrah with a little Grenache and Carignan. Ripe but fresh and vibrant with black fruit, liquorice and smoky notes. Firm and intense on the palate but approachable as well. Splendid length and balance.
Price: £21 (2009) Flint Wines
Domaine Navarre, Cuvée Olivier 2010
Old vine (70-90 years) Grenache and Carignan plus Syrah. Great depth and intensity. Red fruit aromas with a note of local brush and herbs. Full, round and ripe on the palate.
Price: £15.50 Stone Vine & Sun
Vivien Roussignol, Les Païssels 2012
From old vines (30-60 years) on schist soils. Dark and ripe but balanced. Palate round and full with dark fruit flavours to the fore. Freshness despite the alcohol.
Price: £13.90 Pierre Hourlier
Domaine La Grange Léon, L’Audacieux 2012
50% Mourvèdre with Syrah and Grenache. Minerally and fresh with lovely fruit behind. Spice and garrigue aromas. Tannins present but sweet and fine. Long and balanced.
Price: N/A UK +33 (0)4 67 89 73 61
Mas Champart, Côte d’Arbo 2011
Impressive for an entry-level wine. Fruit driven but with substance. Dark fruit (cherry, plum) notes with a touch of herbs behind. Fresh finish. Good value.
Price: £12.50 Berry Bros & Rudd, The Wine Society
Domaine La Linquière, Le Chant des Cigales 2011
Aromatic wine with Syrah (70%) clearly to the fore. Dark fruit, liquorice and violet notes. Palate ripe and full but with a hint of the minerally, schistous soils. Vintage freshness on the finish.
Price: £14.45 (2010) Berry Bros & Rudd
Domaine Rimbert, Mas au Schiste 2010
A third each Carignan, Syrah and Grenache. Ripe and round with notes of cherry and kirsch but schist minerality evident as well. Firm finish.
Price: £13.41 (2009) The Sampler
Cave de Roquebrun, La Grange des Combes 2011
Syrah (50%), Grenache and Mourvèdre. Ripe and aromatic with cherry, plum and chocolate notes. Schist soils impart freshness on the palate.
Price: £12.99 Majestic