When we spotted the wines of Château Milhau-Lacugue favourably reviewed in Decanter magazine back in 2014, we picked up the phone to proprietor and wine-maker Jean Lacugue at the double. A London meeting was secured to taste his wines and we placed our inaugural order on the spot.
Jean owns some 100 hectares of elevated, free-draining scrubland in the hills around the hamlet of Milhau, 15 kilometres north-west of Béziers - some 60 hectares of which are planted with vines. Jean's principal Saint-Chinian in volume terms is called 'Cuvée Magali' - so named in honour of his daughter. It is produced from a blend of 48% Syrah, 23% Grenache Noir, 19% Cinsault and 10% Mourvèdre. Redolent of the wild garrigue herbs that proliferate in this dry, sun-kissed landscape, it has a wealth of dark plum scents and flavours, peppery undertones and supple tannins. It benefits from 3 to 5+ years bottle age and makes a fine accompaniment to spicy sausages or slow-cooked stews. A denser, darker bottling 'Les Truffières' is made from a blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache Noir and the remainder Mourvèdre grown on the stoney upper slopes between 120 and 205 metres above sea level. With a bouquet of ripe autumnal fruit and a core of briary hedgerow berries with hints of spice and enough grip to cellar well for a decade, it merits decanting and pairs well with wild boar or game.