The emerging appellation of Malepère on the western fringes of the Languedoc (north-west of Limoux) has 500 hectares under vine and is home to just 16 independent winemakers. It enjoys both Mediterranean and Atlantic climatic influences, steep elevation and quite a generous spectrum of permitted grape varieties although Merlot must account for at least 50% of red wine blends. Gaining full AOC status in 2007, former co-opérateur Philippe Girard - whose family have grown grapes in the vicinity since 1928 - was quick to realise the region's potential and 'go it alone'. Today, he tends 30 hectares of vines classified as Malepère and Pays d'Oc whose fruit is vinified in purpose-built premises on the outskirts of the village of Alaigne.
Philippe's Malepère 'Tradition' is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc that are hand-harvested and vinified in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats. The finished wine has a deep garnet colour, a garrigue berry bouquet and supple palate of dark hedgerow fruit offset by supple tannins. It drinks well from release and can be cellared for 3 to 5 years. His IGP Pays d'Oc bottling of pure Pinot Noir has lots of varietal character with bright red fruit aromas and flavours underscored by fresh acidity. It drinks well lightly-chilled and makes a fine accompaniment to pâté and substantial salads. Philippe also makes a Pays d'Oc bottling of rosé from Cabernet Franc that is grown at 350 metres above sea-level on clay and limestone soils. Called 'Garriguette', reflecting the street name of the winery and an early-ripening and aromatic variety of strawberry (the bouquet of the wine reflects this moniker). It has a limpid coral-pink robe, redcurrant and raspberry scents and a crisp wild strawberry palate with an elegant, dry finish.