I tried the 2015 La Bégou two weeks ago during a work outing at City House. Already a big fan of Maxime’s wines, I was psyched to taste the new vintage. As you could imagine, our crew goes all out at such events, and La Bégou was in great company. Nevertheless, Maxime’s wine stood out as my favorite. It was fresh and tense, taut. A cooling effect permeated from front to back, spiked with ginger spice and a hint of salinity. I made sure to pick up a bottle right away.
Maxime Magnon is a reluctant hero in the sub-appellation of Hautes Corbières, where he purchased prime parcels of old vines. He rents a cellar and farms 11 hectares in schist and limestone subsoils, terrain that’s incredibly tough to tend as there’s virtually zero topsoil. Maxime’s approach in the vineyard is natural, inspired by his mentors Didier Barral and Jean Foillard. In addition to organic certification, he incorporates biodynamic practices, allowing sheep to graze throughout the vineyards to control weeds and provide manure to fertilize the vines.
La Bégou is mostly grenache gris, with a little grenache blanc blended in. Vines are 50-60 years old and planted gobelet style, meaning they’re are trained without the use of wires or other support systems, resulting in goblet shaped growth. The barren conditions in Hautes Corbières are conducive to such training (or lack there of) and contribute to the taut texture of the wine.
And it is exactly La Bégou’s tenacity that renders the wine age-worthy. This bottle is drinking wonderfully right now but, like all great wines, it contains the capacity for change. This is where cellaring is fun and intriguing for me. I want to taste La Bégou in a year and then in another year, comparing the aged bottles to my previous experience. I also want to purchase next year’s release, opening the two vintages side by side in a vertical tasting.
In addition to La bégou, we currently have two other wines from Maxime Magnon at the shop: a true field blend called Rozeta and a carignan & cinsault blend called La Démarrante. His reds are bright, natural & youthful. They’re not to be missed when they come around.
Maxime Magnon La Bégou
Corbières, Languedoc, France
Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc