Domaine Combe Blanche

France, Languedoc-Roussillon

Domaine Combe Blanche was founded 30 years ago by Guy Vanlancker, a Belgian teacher who moved south to pursue his dream of making top red wine. Today he has around 15 hectares of vineyards surrounding the village of La Livinière. The terroir surrounding La Livinière is on the slopes of the black mountains and produces some of the best, most long lived red wines in the Languedoc. His Minervois and Minervois La Livinière wines are based on Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault. He also does single varietal Roussanne, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo (very unusual in the Languedoc) and Cinsault which are bottled as IGP. Winemaking is traditional - destemming, long fermentations with punching down or pumping over and it is carried out in his higgledy piggledy cellar (definitely not state-of-the-art!)

As well as his earlier drinking Minervois, Calamiac terroir, Guy makes three distinctly different Minervois La Livinière. La Galine is his benchmark La Livinière, usually a roughly equal blend of Syrah and Grenache with a small amount of oak to add richness rather than oaky flavour. Chandelière is his top wine, only made in the best years and is 85% Syrah with a splash of Grenache. It is usually oaked but subtly and the wine rewards ageing in bottle for 10 year or more. The 2001 is drinking beautifully now. The third La Livinière is Clos du Causse. This Grenache based wine comes from a small vineyard near Felines Minervois, about 5km from La Livinière which Guy does not own, hence it is under a different label.