I have recently had the chance to spend a day with Nicolas Hirissou, winemaker at the Domaine du Moulin in Gaillac. Nicolas is issue from a winemaker’s family long established in the region. This allows him to know all the ins and outs of this vineyard, so endearing and still too unknown by the large public, and particularly internationally.
A recent article from the Decanter made a good resume of things, demonstrating on one hand, the very limited choice of the visited wineries, all the work of development of the most interesting producers of the appellation that remains to be done.
A work that many of these winegrowers have been trying to start for a long time, for example through the “Terres de Gaillac” association, which brings together organic winegrowers and regularly organizes extremely interesting tastings. Nicolas Hirissou, for his part, is trying to draw an original route, which at one time may have crossed the “Terres de Gaillac” route, but which is a fairly personal quest which has as its beacon the search for the mythical “Great Wine”.
To this end, Nicolas has been experimenting for several years in multiple directions: high density, fine selection of the best terroirs on both banks of the Tarn (original thing for a freelance at Gaillac), careful progress towards organic farming … Perhaps his most original feature is the plantation of grape varieties typical of the Southwest but absent from the appellation, such as Tannat which he knew in Madiran and Irouléguy, with which he obtained truly fascinating results, and soon Malbec from Cahors, which he is about to plant.
Another peculiarity is a range which is growing, from year to year, new cuvées always more demanding, more confidential, more expensive by necessity, and intended to become its ambassadors in the vast world of wine lovers. A bit like what Alvaro Palacios was able to do in Priorat, but with this French search for subtle breeding, yet another path of progression in which Nicolas Hirissou has happily embarked.
Below, tasting notes of bottles tasted for the first time at room temperature at the smiling, generous and wine-loving restaurant “Au Fil des Saisons” by Michel Orru in Gaillac, then the next day calm after a night spent in the cellar, so a little more fresh. Three levels of range, with an entry of an old vines cuvée which represents a great value for money for meal wine to always have in your cellar and to go out of the blue. Then the Florentin cuvée, the first top of the range which has enabled Nicolas Hirissou over the vintages to refine his breeding practices on the emblematic grape variety of Gaillac, Braucol (or Fer servadou, Pinenc, Mansois in the rest of the South -West, read an article I had written for Gault Millau about Fer Servadou). And finally a new cuvée not yet released which risks making noise in the Landerneau du Vin !!
Small precision, these wines like many reds with tannins, in particular from the Bordeaux-South West region, deserve to be taken out of the cellar a little in advance, and appreciate a carafe, if only of a quarter of an hour or half an hour.
Gaillac red 2014 Cuvée old vines – € 9.5 domain price:
A deep nose, blackcurrant, black fruit, black cherry, on liquorice freshness. The entry in the mouth is limpid, obvious, without a blow, then it develops on a full red fruit and fresh, with an end on pepper, licorice and violet. A beautiful supple wine at the entrance and structured at the end, and a matter of great elegance for this blend of Braucol and Merlot.
Gaillac red 2014 Cuvée Florentin – 23 € domain price:
The nose is on concentrated black fruit, but with a nice velvety texture, with superb nuances of Sichuan pepper, menthol, and a light touch of fresh game. The mouth is completely relaxed, on a beautiful gourmet structure of liquorice and vanilla, with a beautiful nectar of red cherry at the end. A very creamy texture, a super granularity, for this cuvée of 100% Braucol from the two banks of the Tarn with aging now perfectly mastered after years of testing, which allows you to drink it without waiting too long, but obviously you can keep long, long …
Gaillac red 2015 Cuvée Florentin – 23 € price at the estate:
The nose is very aromatic, blueberry, redcurrant, blackberry, blackcurrant, on a nice freshness tinged with violet and garrigue herbs. We are struck by the suppleness of the attack, enchanting, then by the length of the mouth, on a beautiful red fruit which evolves towards black fruit and ends in liquorice with nuances of violet. A magnificent wine, of a very large size, already very relaxed, if it has been put at room temperature. Its development in the coming years will certainly be very interesting.
Vin de pays du Tarn 2015 New unnamed cuvée – price not yet communicated:
Here it is, Nicolas Hirissou’s last jewel. This is not his first wine outside the appellation, since there is already the Le Faucon cuvée, but here we are at a level of wine that targets big names. In the vineyard, it is high density at 7,500 feet per hectare; the blend is 60% tannat, 30% syrah and 10% braucol, the vines are located 70% on the right bank, 30% on the left bank, and are grown organically (not certified for l ‘instant).
The nose is very deep, on a set of red fruits, black fruits and aromatic herbs: blackcurrant, redcurrant, blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, violet, thyme … a sequence which ends happily on the red cherry. On the palate, it is delicious, but also palatable, with nuances of rock water, slightly saline, tinged with violet, with a long and airy persistence. It is a smooth wine, but also supple, very free, airy, with an end where the power returns on raspberry, violet and blackcurrant.
In all a treasure trove of things to tell, which we can listen to with pleasure for many years in my opinion … !!!
I hope that many of you will discover Nicolas Hirissou’s wines and enjoy them! And take a trip to Gaillac, there are so many good things to taste…?