Week 14 – Hegarty Chamans, Open Now 2012

IMG_2390There is nothing more dangerous than someone with a superficial love of wine and too much money to spend. Either they’ll elevate prices to ridiculous levels (just look at what happened in Bordeaux and what is currently happening in Burgundy), or they think that they need an own estate in their portfolio. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are probably the most famous owners (not winemakers) of an estate in Provence, but others like Sting, Francis Ford Coppola or Drew Barrymore also own vineyards in different parts of the world. Even Belgian politicians have been throwing themselves towards (questionable) wine in Tuscany these days. Unfortunately, most people who can afford an estate out of nowhere often don’t have the level of knowledge to get involved and actually shape a wine. The list of celebrity wines that I have tasted is small, but has up until now at least, not been very exciting. They are designer wines, first and foremost created to please the estate’s owner as well as his or her ego.

There are a couple of exceptions. Sir John Hegarty, the man who gave us Flat Eric, the little yellow puppet known from Levi’s or Mr. Oizo is one of them. Hegarty shunned popular viticultural regions and purchased a dilapidated estate in Minervois in 2003. Immediately acknowledging that he knew nothing about viticulture, he hired Samual Berger, an oenologist who was actually recommended by the broker who sold Hegary the estate in the first place. Viticulture follows biodynamic principles (certified in 2010), and there is a strong focus on biodiversity with animals roaming free between the vines. While I have tasted several of the wines, today I’ll shine a light on the entry cuvee, Open Now 2012.

A blend of syrah and mourvèdre, carefully selected with an emphasis on low yield at 30hl/ha which is quite a ways from the usual yields in the Languedoc. You immediately notice that you are in a warmer climate with dense, dark fruit on the nose, leathery notes and an Eastern spiciness showing up afterwards. As I nearly always do with natural or biodynamic wines, it benefits from uncorking early or decanting. The mouth is completely different from what you would expect based on the nose, fresh, with a juicy minerality that lingers towards the finish. I was quite surprised as the heavy, almost animalistic leathery touches on the nose led me to expect a denser wine. For an entry level wine that costs less than 10 euros, this is an incredibly joyful wine, perfect for the start of summer!

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