A White Wine to Welcome Spring: Clos Centeilles Côtes du Brian Blanc

Clos Centeilles Côtes du Brian Blanc

Patricia Domergue is the leading lady behind the delightful wines of Clos Centeilles, a 14 hectare estate located in the La Livinière cru of Minervois. Minervois is an appellation in the westernmost part of the Languedoc in southern France. Before purchasing this property in 1990, Patricia studied oenology and worked in the Bordeaux region, but she was ultimately drawn to the Languedoc for its rich viticultural history and unique terroir.

Patricia is the acting President of the Union for the La Livinière cru, and is dedicated to growing heirloom red and white varietals, many of which are specific to the Languedoc (and some, like Picpoul Noir and Araignan Blanc, practically extinct!). While not certified organic, her approach is very traditional and all of the work in the vineyards is done by hand – from trimming and plowing with a horse-drawn plow, to hand-picking the harvest.

Clos Centeilles’ Côtes du Brian Blanc is a white wine made from 4 antique varietals – Araignan Blanc, Riveirenc Blanc and Gris, and Carignan Gris – from vines that Patricia rescued from a local nursery, planted, and fostered. In Patricia’s words, these grapes were, “meant to meet each other.” The Araignan Blanc delivers fleshy aromas, the Riveirenc Blanc and Gris provide balance, and the Carignan Gris balances with good acidity. She is right! This is an expressive southern French white – one that is pale gold in color with a nose of fresh apricot, wild fennel and herbs. On the palate it is fresh and clean with pretty Bosc pear and bitter almond notes, and a satisfying saline finish. I find this white perfect to savor with a chunk of Brebis Pardou, a sheep milk cheese from the Pyrénées, and a sliver of quince paste.

Jessica Smith is the Wine Buyer and a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.