Minervois is a vast appéllation encompassing over 5,000 hectares of vineyard bordered by the Montagne Noire to the north, the Canal du Midi to the south, Carcassonne to the west and Narbonne to the east. This perhaps explains why our quest to find a wine estate with which we were enamoured was a long one. Happily, 10 years ago, we discovered Domaine Le Cazal and our search was over. The Derroja family have been making wine on the Lacustrine limestone hills to the east of the village of Minèrve since 1870 and currently have 13.5 hectares under vine. Their 'Cuvée Tradition' is made from a blend of hand-harvested Grenache Noir, Syrah and Carignan in roughly equal parts and has engendered a loyal following amongst our customers and colleagues. With a wealth of wild herb and berry scents and flavours, its core of baked black fruit is supported by supple tannins. It drinks well from release and can support 5 years bottle age. A second patrôn's cuvée – called 'Le Pas de Zarat' is made from the same grape varieties but has a longer élévage in oak barrels and is denser, more complex and even longer lived. It merits decanting and makes a fine partner to grilled red meat or mushroom dishes.