80yr old Trousseau vine at Michel Gahier Vineyards near Cairanne Rhone Valley Jean Paul Brun of Beaujolais Bornard sign in Pupillin Saint Jean du Barroux vineyard

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Causse Marines

If you look at wine lists from any of the top wine bars from The Ten Bells in New York to Coinstot Vino the trendy cave à manger in the lovely Passage des Panoramas in Paris you will find the wines of Virginie Maignien and Patrice Lescarret of Causse Marines. The instantly recognisable and humorous wine labels with their irreverent, but obscure, jibes at French bureaucracy may give the impression that they are a jovial lot at Causse Marines. However, they are very serious wine makers who are committed to restoring the Gaillac region to its former glory.

Their vineyards fall within the appellation of Gaillac which lies a short drive north of the south-west city of Toulouse. The vineyards are tended biodynamically with no pesticides or fungicides or artificial fertilizers used.

They make their wines naturally and have a wide range of unusual grape varieties to call on including Ondenc, Loin-de-l’oeil, Braucol, Duras and Mauzac. They are part of a group of local vignerons who are trying to restore the ancient grape varieties that made the Gaillac wines fmaous throughout Europe in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries.

Causse Marines Vin de Table Mysterre 2011

This is indeed a mystery. It is yellow-gold in the bottle. It starts out like an Armagnac and then morphs into an amontillado sherry then gives off some Madeira notes, then some very old Savagnin hints. There is nothing else like it!

 It is made from Mauzac and the wine has never been topped up in the barrel. A veil formed on the wine and it was therefore aged 'under the veil', just like a sherry or Vin Jaune from the Jura.

The wine has aged for a long time and is also a solera of four different vintages (1997, 98, 99 and 2000) along with a little of younger vintages to add freshness! The vintage refers to the fact that it was assembled in 2011 not that the grapes come from the 2011 vintage.

RRP: SOLD OUT

 Causse Marines Gaillac Les Greilles 2011 and 2012

Les Greilles is a classy white wine blended from local Gaillac grapes Mauzac and Loin-de-l’Oeil with a little Muscadelle thrown in.

It is a perfect aperitif wine as well as being an ideal accompaniment for a range of foods such as charcuterie, including cured meats and a many spicy foods.

The grapes come from a number of low-yielding parcels with the maximum yield being a low 35 hectolitres per hectare. The low yield leads to increased fruit intensity that shines through in this wine.

RRP: $31 for 2011 and $35 for 2012

Tecnical Specification

Domaine de Causse Marines Gaillac Peyrouzelles 2012

Peyrouzelles is a red wine blended mainly from Braucol, Duras and Syrah. Patrice also says that this wine has a 'bit of everything' (un peu de tout) including the rare Alicante (a grape with very dark red flesh), the very rare Prunelart (also a dark-coloured grape) and Jurancon!  These are all traditional grape varieties of the Gaillac region that Patrice and Virginie are reviving.

It is an easy-drinking style that is perfect now but which will keep for another year or two as the tannins soften. You will be surprised by the depth of flavour of this well-priced wine.

RRP: $33

Tecnical Specification

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de Table Sept Souris 8002

The Sept Souris 8002 is a Vin de Table wine and is made from 100% Syrah. Despite being a Vin de Table it is a wine of considerable elegance and is the flagship wine of this exciting domaine.

This wine is drinking very nicely right now with exceptionally fine tannins and a long, satisfying finish. It is not permitted in France to put the vintage on the label of Vin de Table wines but if you look at the name of the wine it doesn't take too long to work it out!

RRP: $67

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de France Causse Toujours 1102

The Causse Toujours is a special cuvee that was created in 2011 because the yield from the Syrah plot at the top of the hill was so low that it was not possible to make the Sept Souris which is always made from 100% Syrah. This wine is made from the Syrah which provides silkiness, spice and body and some Prunelart (a local grape that is being revived in the area) from young vines to provide a more rustic element to the wine.

The wine is a deep purple colour with lots of spice and pleasant tannins at the front of the mouth. The Prunelart adds a touch of mystery and fruitiness that you would expect from the parent (father) of Malbec.

This represents excellent value for money considering the quality of the Syrah that provides the backbone of this wine.

RRP: $39

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de Table Dencon 0102

The Dencon 0102 is made from a very, very rare grape variety called Ondenc which had almost disappeared from France until it was revived by a small number of growers in Gaillac. The wine is labelled as a Vin de Table because it is not permitted to produce single-grape variety wines in the Gaillac appellation.

(Incidentally the same grape is used in western Victoria to make sparkling wine.)

As with the vintage, it is not permitted to put the grape variety on wines from many French appellations. however those of you who enjoy anagrams and similar word games should not take too long to work it out.

The humour of the winemakers also shows through on the little tweaks given to some of the symbols that must appear on the label in France.

RRP: SOLD OUT

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de Table Rasdu 8002

The Rasdu 8002 is a Vin de Table wine made from 100% Duras, the favoured red grape of the Gaillac area and a grape that has been grown here since the Middle Ages when Gaillac was a favoured wine region for the royalty of Europe. As can be seen from the name of the wine, this one has some age.

RRP: SOLD OUT

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de Table Zacmau 9002

The Zacmau 9002 is a white Vin de Table wine made from 100% Mauzac, the favoured local white grape of the area. This is a classy, elegant wine that shows what Mauzac is capable of, especially when yields are as low as 20 hectolitres per hectare. It is a complex wine with considerable finesse with lots of the characteristic Mauzac flavour and a very long and very satisfying finish.

It is a very good food wine and works extremely well with charcuterie such as salami, saucisson, pate and terrines as well as with dishes such as braised sausages. It is a very versatile wine and a particular favourite.

RRP: $35

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de Table Zacmau 0102

The Zacmau 0102 is a white Vin de Table wine made from 100% Mauzac, the favoured local white grape of the area. This is a classy, elegant wine that shows what Mauzac is capable of, especially when yields are as low as 20 hectolitres per hectare. It is a complex wine with considerable finesse with lots of the characteristic Mauzac flavour and a very long and very satisfying finish.

It is a very good food wine and works extremely well with charcuterie such as salami, saucisson, pate and terrines as well as with dishes such as braised sausages. It is a very versatile wine and a particular favourite.

RRP: $37

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de Table Zacmau 2102

The Zacmau 2102 is a white Vin de Table wine made from 100% Mauzac, the favoured local white grape of the area. This is a classy, elegant wine that shows what Mauzac is capable of, especially when yields are as low as 20 hectolitres per hectare. It is a complex wine with considerable finesse with lots of the characteristic Mauzac flavour and a very long and very satisfying finish.

It is a very good food wine and works extremely well with charcuterie such as salami, saucisson, pate and terrines as well as with dishes such as braised sausages. It is a very versatile wine and a particular favourite.

RRP: $37

Domaine de Causse Marines Gaillac Doux Grain de Folie 2012

The Grain de Folie is one of the stars of the line up from Causse Marines. It is a sweet white wine made from very ripe Muscadelle, Ondenc, Loin de l’Oeil , Mauzac and Sémillon grapes. In fact many of the grapes have reached the 'noble rot' stage.

It has a gorgeous mouth feel, it is sweet without being cloying and has tons of flavour. You get flavours of dried apricot and quince coming through and the natural acidity in the wine balances the sweetness. This wine matches perfectly with fruit desserts such as fruit salad, berry fruit soups or fruit terrines. It would also team very nicely with a berry-based parfait.

This wine is sold in 500ml format and represent amazing value for money.

RRP: SOLD OUT

Domaine de Causse Marines Folie Pure 1999

Folie Pure means 'pure madness' and we can understand why it is called as such with late picking, very low yields, further concentration through drying our the grapes on mats and then a very long maturation in the barrel.

The grape varieties used include most of the permissible whites from the Gaillac area namely Ondenc, Loin de l’œil, Muscadelle, Sémillon and Mauzac.

The result is a very sweet wine with low alcohol as the fermentation is unable to finish because of the levels of sugar present. However, this is not a cloying sweet wine. It is fresh and lively and a beautiful wine to accompany fresh, runny cheeses or some desserts.

This wine is only 6.5% alcohol due to the partial fermentation.

This wine is sold in 375ml format.

RRP: $107

Domaine de Causse Marines Délires d'Automne 2002

Délires d'Automne means 'Autumn madness (craziness)' and we can understand why this one also refers to madness with late picking of botrytised grapes, very low yields, further concentration through drying out the grapes on mats and then a very long maturation in the barrel.

The grape varieties used are the same as the Folie Pure but without the Mauzac namely, Ondenc, Loin de l’œil, Muscadelle and Sémillon.

The result is a sweet wine with delightful oxidative notes that are so beloved by the French and increasingly by Australians who have rarely been exposed to these delightful wine styles. However, this is not a cloying sweet wine. It is fresh and lively and a beautiful wine to accompany fresh, runny cheeses or some desserts. The wine is 10.5% alcohol.

This wine is sold in 500ml format.

RRP: SOLD OUT

Domaine de Causse Marines Vin de Table Effervescent Préambulles 2011

This sparkling wine is naturally fermented in the bottle. It is made entirely from very low-yielding Mauzac vines. The bead is very, very fine and it has a yeasty, bready nose and quite an intense apple flavour. It is a perfect aperitif wine but is also a good match for food as well. For a sparkling wine of some elegance this is great value for money.

RRP: $33