After a short drive to Sète, we were welcomed at the Skalli Winery, a huge operation producing over 30 million bottles a year! After a tour of the facility, we had a tasting of 13 wines, conducted by the head enologist, Laurent Sauvage. The general conclusion is that Skalli, also the owner of St Supéry in Napa, has an excellent quality/price ratio. Just look at the wines we tasted and prices: chardonnay ‘09 un-oaked $6.50; chardonnay oaked ‘09 $13; Vioginier ‘09 $13; Clos Poggiale Corsica Vermentino ‘09; Esprit de Siléne Rosé ‘09 (Cinsault & Syrah); Clos Poggiale ‘08 Pinot Noir $15; Fortant cabernet ‘09 $7; Cotes du Rhone ‘08 La Rabassiere (grenache, syrah, mourvedre); Esprit de Silène rouge ‘08 (grenache & syrah); Clos Poggiole ‘08 50/50 syrah & niellucciu aka san giovese); Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘07 $35; Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘05 Dedication with more syrah in the traditional blend; and the highlight of the tasting: Domaine de Silène rouge ‘04 cru Grès de Montpellier with 80% syrah and the balance grenache & carignan. Grès de Montpellier is the newst AOC, established 7 years ago.
We then travelled to the Abbaye de Valmagne where we had lunch, a tasting and a tour by the owner of the medieval gothic abbey. Mr and Mrs Philippe d’Aillaines were very gracious and we enjoyed every minute. The abbey with its cloisters completely intact was absolutely stunning. I’ve posted several photos on our web site.
Our day ended by the Bassin of Thau were Romain Dupuy explained how oysters are cultivated in the Bassin. This was followed by a tasting of oysters accompanied by the local white wine Picpoul de Pinet. Romain did treated us to a ‘brasucade,’ the French version of a clambake, only with mussels. We gouged ourselves and washed them down with more white wine. Whew!