If one were tasked with buying a vineyard and making potable wine profitably (and one hopes one never is) then the emergent appellation of Malepère - in Cathar country on the western fringes of the Languedoc – would be worthy of strong consideration. There has yet to be any discernible 'land grab' so prices are relatively low; the region benefits from both Mediterranean and Atlantic influences with good light levels, a long ripening season, cooling sea breezes and sufficient rainfall. There are free-draining calcareous soils and a broad palette of permitted grapes to work with and full Appellation Contrôlée status was bestowed by the I.N.A.O in 2007.
Philippe Girard is one of 16 independent wine-makers who have recognised the potential here and he recently elected to invest in a brand new winery, warehouse and 'cellar door' shop to service growing demand for his wines. Philippe currently has 36 hectares of vines in total, 5 of which are classified as Limoux, he also grows wheat and sunflowers. His toothsome red Malepère is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and is like a cross between a youthful 'Petit Château' claret and a sun-kissed Languedoc red. With a wealth of blackcurrant and ripe plum scents and flavours offset by fine-grained tannins and a fresh acidity, it is a versatile crowd-pleaser to accompany Cassoulet de Castelnaudary, Portobello mushrooms or Barnsley chops.