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Château Valflaunes

Pic Saint Loup is a district to the north of Montpellier and is dominated by an eerie, tooth-like peak. Cool breezes sweep down from the Massif Central and provide the perfect conditions for growing grapes. The syrah in particular thrives here and many producers are making wines of northern Rhône stature that are becoming fashionable and much sought after.

This is a small estate with cellars beneath the old chateau in the village of Valflaunes. The winemaker is Fabien Reboul with the looks and physique of a rock musician. Over the years his style of winemaking has changed from big, heavy wines to wines that have more freshness. 'I simply got tired of my own wines,' he used to say.

The first wine to change was the white made from marsanne and roussanne grapes. The grapes are still picked perfectly ripe and yields remain low. Indeed his vineyards on poor soil couldn't produce much more. The real difference is in the winemaking. Only stainless steel tanks are used with little in the way of intervention. Bottling is early to preserve fruit flavours.

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