Xavier Bruguière represents the seventh consecutive generation of his family to tend vines in the valley between the towering edifices of Pic Saint-Loup (658 metres above sea level) and 'L'Hortus' (512 metres) but is very much a questing innovator rather than a dogged traditionalist. When he took over operations from his father Guilhem in 2007, he put all of the family's 20 hectares of vine-holdings under organic conversion and gained certified Agriculture Biologique status with the 2011 vintage. He has since completely rebuilt and renovated the winery and has enjoyed a succession of superb vintages, although he lost half his potential 2016 harvest to a hailstorm that devastated a large sector of vineyard in the commune of Lauret. The long-awaited promotion to full 'Appellation Contrôlée' status by the Minister of Agriculture in January 2017 must have been something of a salve after that setback; although it does not extend to white wines which seems churlish.
For the time being Xavier will have to bottle his excellent white 'Les Mûriers' as a humble 'AOP' Languedoc, which belies its quality but hopefully dis-encourages price inflation. Made from a blend of 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne grown in Xavier's coolest, most northerly vineyard, near Valflaunès, it is vinified in vat and barrel for 10 months prior to blending and bottling. The finished wine has alluring yellow plum and vanilla scents and a smoothly-textured palate of white peaches and apricots underscored by a nervy mineral streak. It doesn't demand food accompaniment but makes an excellent partner to Mediterranean cuisine rich in olive oil, garlic and fresh vegetables.
Xavier's red 'L'Arbouse' is blended from 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache Noir that are respectively vinified in oak and concrete vats for 12 months before blending. It represents a masterclass in wine-making restraint. Approachable from release it has a wealth of wild garrigue herb and berry aromas and flavours evocative of the stunning location of its origin. With a core of juicy dark fruit and briary tannins, it has a wild untamed quality that is the antithesis of a modern, mass-produced wine. Game and wild mushroom dishes are both fine accompaniments and it will cellar well for 3-5 years.