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 discourages price inflation. Made from a blend of 80% Vermentino and 20% Roussanne, it is largely vinified in vat and matured on the fine lees for the best part of a year. Alongside that, one third is matured in French oak casks also for 10 months prior to blending and bottling. The finished wine has alluring Mirabelle plum and vanilla scents and a smoothly-textured palate of white peaches and apricots underscored by a nervy mineral streak.
Xavier's red 'L'Arbouse' (Scrub Strawberry Tree) is blended from 55% Syrah and 45% 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 drinks well in its youth and will cellar well for 5-7 years.