Nicolas Carmarans – wines from the remote Aveyron

Nicolas Carmarans makes wines from indigenous grape varieties clinging to steep terraces in the remote Aveyron region of central France.

For many years he ran the delightful wine bar in Paris called Café de la Nouvelle Mairie. It, as its name suggests, is a meeting place where people go to sip on good wines, eat interesting food and solve the problems of the world.

He sold it recently to concentrate on his vineyard in the Aveyron in south west France where he makes stunningly delicious natural wines from local grape varieties such as Fer Servadou and Negret de Banhars.

Nicolas in his very steep vineyard near Campouriez

The wines are released under the local IGP appellation of Aveyron (this is the new Indication Geographique Protegee which protects wines produced in the area).

In addition to his Mauvais Temps vineyard, Nicolas has recently bought a new house and built a new winemaking facility in a stunningly beautiful and very peaceful, remote area on the slopes above the Truyère River, not too far upstream from the Barrage (dam) de Couesques. Here he has also planted a new vineyard to Chenin Blanc and Fer Servadou.

Nicolas Carmarans IGP Aveyron Mauvais Temps Rouge 2019

The Nicolas Carmarans Mauvais Temps is a particular favourite. This light, but complex red wine from the Aveyron in central France is lively, exciting, delicious and leaves you wanting more!

This is the flagship wine for Nicolas and the one that initially prompted us to contact him regarding importing his wines. Intially this wine comprised three grape varieties, namely 40% Negret de Banhars, 50% Fer Servadou (known locally as Mansois) and 10% Cabernet Franc.

Negret de Banhars is an extremely rare grape variety that is only maintained by Nicolas. However, more recently we have noticed that he has dropped this grape variety from this cuvée in favour of the wonderful Fer Servadou, which is a grape variety to watch as it can produce wines of great sophistication with an earthy touch! His vines that he uses for this wine are fifty years old.

The grapes undergo semi-carbonic maceration in 15 hectolitre wooden conical tanks for 20 days and the juice is then transferred to old barriques for 12 months.

The vineyard is very steep with narrow terraces covered with native herbs in a stunning valley near the village of Campouriez.

RRP: $64

Nicolas Carmarans IGP Aveyron Fer de Sang Rouge 2020

The Nicolas Carmarans Fer de Sang is made from 100% Fer Servadou (also known as Braucol and Mansois in other regions) sourced from a vineyard south of Nicolas’s house in the Marcillac region.

Here he has sourced grapes from vines that are 70 years old that are growing on limestone soils at an elevation of approximately 250 metres above sea level.

He places the whole bunches in fibreglass tanks to undergo carbonic maceration for about 10 days before being transferred to old barriques for seven months.

The resulting wine is very approachable with leather, smoke and tar on the nose leading to a taste of bright berry fruits and a very silky, elegant mouthfeel. This is a stunning wine from Nicolas and it obviously appealed to the team at the famous La Cave des Papilles in Paris who exclaimed in their recent newsletter:

“A true wine of pleasure!”

RRP: $73

Nicolas Carmarans IGP Aveyron Maximus Rouge 2020

The Nicolas Carmarans Maximus is a fresh, vibrant red wine that sees 16 days of carbonic maceration using whole bunches to ensure the freshness and flavour that you expect from a wine made using this process.

The 2020 vintage is definitely the best yet! It is low in alcohol (11.5%), lighter, fresher and more elegant than before. But flavour has not been sacrificed. This is in line with our tastings of this wine since Nicolas started producing it – it just keeps getting better and better.

The wine is made from 100% Fer Servadou (also known as Mansois) picked from vines that range in age from 20 to 50 years. This grape variety is local to the region around the Aveyron and then in an arc down to the area around the town of Gaillac which is just north of Toulouse.

This wine is aged in old barrels and bottled without the addition of any sulphites to retain the freshness. It can be drunk as an aperitif or matched to quite a wide range of foods.

RRP: $55

Nicolas Carmarans IGP Aveyron Selves 2020

The Nicolas Carmarans Selves is produced from vines of Chenin Blanc (10 to 16 years) that thrive on granitic soils in the cold valley near Campouriez in the Aveyron. This is an unbelievably beautiful wine for those who love the power and elegance of this much sought-after grape variety.

When we tried it this year during a lunch at chez Nicolas overlooking the beautiful river that meanders through the steep gorges here we were stunned again by the purity and elegance displayed by this wine.

The wine is matured in “demi-muids” which are large wooden barrels of 600 litre capacity that mature the wine without imparting new wood flavour to the wine.

The 2020 vintage is even more intriguing than before! It has a richness yet brightness and energy that makes it perfect to drink now, but will also see it last for many years. An outstanding wine!

RRP: $73

Nicolas Carmarans Vin de France Entre Les Eaux 2020

This is a new wine for Carmarans made from his relatively new vineyard beside his house near the village of Campouriez. You reach his winery on a twisting road through the forests below the village in the direction of Montézic until you suddenly emerge to sweeping views across his new vineyards and the waters of the Truyère river.

This wine is a very uncommon blend to say the least! It comprises 50% Chenin Blanc from his own vineyards and 50% Aligoté that he has purchased from a vigneron in the Macôn – hence the Vin de France rather than IGP Aveyron on the label.

Both grape varieties were direct pressed separately and underwent débourbage (settling) for one night before the juice was transferred to old wooden barrels for fermentation and maturation.

The result is a clean, fresh white wine with lots of personality derived from the combination of these two exciting grape varieties. At our first tasting of this wine we were delighted with both the texture and the energy displayed, with both grape varieties contributing equally to the finesse and character of the wine.

RRP: $69

Nicolas Carmarans Vin de France Maximus de la Pascole 2016

We have some magnums of the amazing wine produced by Nicolas and his friend Bruno Duchene. Bruno is imported to Australia by our colleague Andrew Guard. We import the wines of Nicolas Carmarans from the Aveyron.

So, what happens when these two amazing winemakers get together and make a wine together?

The result is the magnums of Maximus de la Pascole of which both we and Andrew will have very limited quantities. Anyway we have a few of the magnums so we are listing them here.

RRP: $178