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Making wine... a question of freedom

Extract from “La Vigne” - N°280 - November 2015

To expand its range of wines, Pierre Cros imported grape varieties from Italy and Portugal (Nebbiolo and Touriga nacional). He also rehabilitated traditional Mediterranean varieties long decried. [...]

“When I wanted to plant them in 1998, these two varieties were not yet enrolled in the French catalogue. I had to spar me for authorization in an experimental setting,”says the former rugby player who does not let adversity stop by.

Pierre Cros cultivates today seventeen varieties on the 22.5 ha of his farm located in Badens near Carcassonne. Being curious of what others are doing, he would just not do with the traditional varieties of the appellation Minervois, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. In 2001, he planted 1,5 acres of Nebbiolo and 2,5 acres of Touriga Nacional.

Wines of great precision

Being an integral part of the emblematic winemakers of the Languedoc for many years, Pierre Cros belongs to those who express best the character and diversity of the Languedoc through his beautiful wines. The winery is a true reference of the Minervois, led by a imaginative winemaker.

Domaine Cros Minervois Guide Hachette

Six times elected “Coup de cœur du Guide Hachette” in the past 12 years, the Cuvée “Les Aspres” perfectly reflects the high quality standards of the Domaine and the wines. Wines that are frequently referred to by the tasters as true works of art.
"Blackcurrant, blackberry, vanilla, pepper and cinnamon. Soft, full-bodied, even sensual on the palate, this wine brings apotheosis as a seemingly endless finish. »

Well deserved eulogies that may also be applied to the Cuvée Vieilles Vignes (100% Carignan), the Mal Aimes, a table wine, made from old grape varieties (Carignan, Aramon, Picpoul Noir, Alicante), as well as to the very original wines under the label “La Liberté” (a Nebbiolo, a Touriga Nacional and a Pinot noir). All of them wines that bear witness to an accurate knowledge of the terroir.

While Pierre Cros neither claims to be the successor of generations of star winemakers, nor to belong to any « agricultural religion », he nevertheless claims to understand a little of the value of cultural legacy of our ancestors, and that he farms with respect and love.

Extract from “Les domaines coup de cœur du Guide Hachette des Vins

Some words from Michel Smith’s “Les grand Crus du Languedoc et du Roussillon” :

“… if ever you wander through the world of wine, it might happen that you meet a person with great charisma, with an aura that makes it very special…”

“Kind hearted might be the word that suits best to describe him. Coincidentally, his wines seem to represent his personality – you should immediately drop everything to meet this winegrower.”

Since 1990, the wines of the Domaine Pierre Cros have been regularly mentioned and priced with a “Coup de Cœur” in the Guide Hachette.

But regardless of all reading, the best judgement for our wines will always pass by your own palate.

Les Aspres 2017 **
Tenacious, Pierre Cros pins two stars and one more “coup de cœur” to his list of achievements, thanks to this high-end, pure Syrah aged for long time in barrels. Smoke, spices, black olives, black fruit, truffle and cocoa, the nose fascinates. Fleshy, concentrated, with finely carved tannins and nice grip, its taste impresses by volume, structure and the body of its spicy and vanilla fruit that still bears the imprint of oak wood. To age for years, certainly, but devilishly attractive now.

Le Clos 2017 *
An almost opaque dark colour dresses this syrah with a heavily oaky nose. Cinnamon, spices and vanilla bloom in a powerful, concentrated mouth, with a precise structure, but still strongly marked by barrel ageing at this stage. To leave imperatively in cellar to ripen.

Vieilles Vignes 2016 ***
A hundred-year-old Carignan, bottled as a single vineyard selection, is the origin of this “magic potion”, which brings the winemaker his 10th “Coup de Cœur” in our wine guide. Our tasters have taken a lot of time to study the beguiling scent of cassis, spices, hints of vanilla and flowers. The well-controlled tannin extraction and perfect barrel ageing bring in some roasted notes, which combine well with the light aroma of plum eau-de-vie. Its soft, silky structure is full of finesse and elegance and is integrated into the round and complex aromas on the finish.

Les Aspres 2016 **
Made from old Syrah vines, this cuvée is responsible for most of the “Coup de Cœur” of this winery (8 in total), even though the Vieilles Vignes benefit from an extra dose of seductive power in this issue. However, we weren’t less impressed by its density and structure, as well as by the warm vanilla and forest fruit flavours. Twelve months of oak barrel ageing have given him powerful tannins and a solid consistency, giving this wine a great ageing potential ...

Vieilles Vignes 2015**
Listed in our wine guide and awarded several times with our highest honours for more than 30 years. And what’s new in 2017?
The old Carignan vines come over with a rather young expression and mild and fresh scent of cherries and plums. No high tannin extraction or severe wood characters (maximum 6 months of oak maturation) in this wine, convincing with finesse and soft structure. Just a touch of butter and caramel remind of the oak barrels. A perfect symbiosis between wood and wine, giving furthermore elegance and complexity to the overall picture.
Drinking from 2019 to 2025, to wild boar.

Les Aspres 2013***
Even in a delicate vintage like 2013, the top cuvee of the winery shines bright like a star. Built in the same style as the previous vintage, it offers a rich bouquet of spices, ripe fruit and vanilla. On the palate, flavours of black currant and blackberries underline the creamy mouth feel. It has elegant tannins and a hint of ginger on the final.

Les Aspres 2012***
The wine star of the estate shines again. This Syrah pampered and raised in barrels for one year like the previous vintages, shows its typical intense and warm scents of spices and black fruits, enhanced with notes of cedar and a touch of truffles. Roasted cocoa and mocha join in on the concentrated and mellow palate, while mild and spicy tannins emphasize an intense final, a true apotheosis. A bottle that will be perfect to appreciate young (served in a carafe), or left for years of ageing. (2016 - 2025)

Les Aspres 2011***
Pierre Cros settled on 25 ha of vineyards and as much olives, almond trees and truffle oaks. He is a great “winzer-artist”, a real benchmark in the Minervois, if you look look up how often we wrote about him and his wines in this guide during the last 10 years. He considers himself as a “peasant” and tells usthat he learned to respect his clients from his father and grand-father,who both of them had been bakers in Badens. Besides classic grape varieties of the AOC, Pierre Cros keeps ancient, almost forgotten and even “non-beloved” (mal aimé) grape varieties (as for example the Aramon) and introduced new varieties from abroad.

The mythic cuvee of the winery (Les Aspres) stands atop the podium once again. Similar to previous vintages, the 2011 unifies intense, warm fragrances of ripe fruit, spices, cedar wood and eucalyptus. Toasty aromas and cocoa join the full-bodied, smooth and concentrated taste on the palate, underlined by elegant but tight tannins and delicate spices that lead the wine to an intense final. A true apotheosis!

Three stars also for the Vielles Vignes 2012: A centennial Carignan that spend a short time in oak barrels. Sweet spices, concentrated fruit, fine and supple.

Les Aspres 2010***
Some will become jealous again... Three stars and the eighth “coup de cœur” ( the third in a row) for this great cuvee from Pierre Cros that bedazzled the jury again (in a blind tasting). The most envious will even get paler when they know that the remarkable “Vieilles Vignes 2011” did also very well during our “hunt for stars”. “Les Aspres” are a masterpiece that makes us travel to eucalyptus and cedar woods, presenting warm and cooler fragrances in perfect harmony. On the palate, the first impression is of uncommon intensity and fullness, drenched with scents of ripe fruit and delicate vanilla. While the jurors described the wine as being creamy, soft and savoury, they also underlined its statuesque structure, carried by beautiful peppery tannins, that give an almost endless final to the wine…

Les Aspres 2009***
Seventh „Coup de Cœur“ fort he leading cuvée of the estate. As a “spiritual leader” of the Minervois, Pierre Cros belongs to those wine grower artists, that have found the Holy Grail in their vineyards and share their life’s work with us, by honouring our tables with their Devine brewage. This 2009 provides aromas of black currant, vanilla, blackberry, pepper and cinnamon of exceptional intensity. Smooth and full-bodied, even sensual on the palate, this wine evolves towards an apotheosis of a nearly endless final.

Les Aspres 2008***
Three stars and the sixth “Coup de Cœur” (translate like “favourite”) for the grande cuvée of the estate (100% Syrah), that should nevertheless not outshine the red Pierre-Henry 2009 (100% Grenache), a wink to the owner’s son.
Unanimous decision: This wine has a powerful bouquet in which garrigue, pepper, sour cherry, cacao and liquorish collude. Smooth and sensuous, generous flavours with a sublime finish. A true celebration of taste!

Les Aspres 2007***
Already the fiftht “coup de cœur” for this cuvee, closely followed by the red Vieilles Vignes 2008, solid and full of character as usual. LES ASPRES are back in the spotlight, like in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003. Mouth filling and fleshy, this 2007 reviews a wide range of aromas : spices, ripe fruit, liquorish and chocolate. Concentrated, generous and luscious, with a powerful and endless final, your palate will never forget. The prodigy of this bottle : you may appreciate it now or leave this pleasure to your children…

Les Aspres 2006 **
This cuvee monopolises the top ranking : already awarded by four “coup de Cœur” and several finals. This year you have the choice, as the red VIEILLES VIGNES 2007 has also been selected : ripened in tanks, it’s full of fruit (blackberry and blackcurrant) with a crispy taste and long aromatic persistence. As for LES ASPRES, it is up to the front of the stage for our enjoyment. A powerful wine, well structured, wrapped into sweet aromas of ripe fruit, vanilla and cinnamon from eighteen months of barrel ageing. The two belong together, so do not do things by half and enjoy a bottle of each.

Les Aspres 2005 ***
Famous rugby player, Pierre Cros applies the principles of this game to his wines, « we do not change a winning team”. So the same blend of Syrah vineyards that enters the field, aligning on the front line cassis, cherry and vanilla. In the mouth, the wine is straightforward, backed by muscular, but elegant tannins. A wine that is playing on the prolongations of woody notes ... but it does not deserve the wooden spoon, but a place on the podium !

Les Aspres 2004 **
Even if it does not win the “Coup de Cœur” this year as in 2002 and 2003, this wine is nevertheless a remarkable advocate of the 2004 vintage. Still there is this power, coated in a dream of vanilla and cocoa, its body draped in velvet and fragrant spices (pepper and cinnamon). A warm, a little smoky long finish. Certainly the wine of an artist.

Les Aspres 2003 ***
In rugby parlance, »touching the wood« means winning the supreme title. Like this wine, that will seduce you, as it is elegant, powerful and coated with vanilla. Yet another “coup de cœur” for Pierre CROS, whose wine is described as »magnificent« by the jury, that outlines the never-ending »cascade of tannins and spice, nutmeg and pepper ; a dream made of ripe fruit and marmelade, and sublime roasted and balsamic aromas.« The jury is delighted by the exceptional, never ending final. The red Vieilles Vignes 2004 is in the same vein, full of youth. Be patient, as these bottles will age for years.

Les Aspres 2002 ***
Pierre Cros not only touches the moon, but he also has its head in the stars ! As LES ASPRES got the top award, the 2003 VIEILLES VIGNES, vibrant of force and character, are also launched into space. Described as a »great wine of the South" by the tasters, the 2002 is dense, concentrated and full of power. Ripened in barrels, the aromas reach the summit : cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, blackcurrant, raspberry and violet. This harmonious and rich range of smells escorts a dense and well-balanced mouth. This bottle has a great future.

Les Aspres 2001 **
Issued from a great, stony terroir, this wine needs no cellar techniques : no green harvest is necessary, as the yields of this Syrah are naturally low - it offers little grapes, but they are always ripe and tasty ! Add to this a talented vigneron who talks to his oak barrels and you will obtain a powerful and intense wine, with sweet fragrances of fruit, marmalade, prune and chocolate. It all blossoms on a solid and balanced structure, fully backed by ample tannins that give way to length and delicacy. Another success story of Pierre Cros who cannot count his “coup de Cœur” anymore.

Les Aspres 2000 ***
_Here is the composition of a team that won its second title within three years : a land of fire, a talented winemaker and vineyards run perfectly. The trio enters the stage dressed in purple, attacks with intensity, displaying strength, ripe fruits, peach and prune, including strength, smooth tannins and toasted cocoa. Well balanced, the wine of this vintage is mouth filling and generous. The apotheosis lies in its never ending final…

Les Aspres 1999 ***
The grand jury has spoken : Pierre Cros missed the ultimate reward for this outstanding wine by length of one glass. LES ASPRES, 100% syrah, ruby coloured, full of spices, coffee, red fruit and vanilla. Perfectly balanced, the palate being caressed by tannins of great quality. The never ending final makes a lap of honour.

Les Aspres 1998 ***
Character of hardened steel, grown on a land of fire ! LES ASPRES : Pierre CROS, supported by the winemaker Claude Gros, brilliantly won the “Coup de Cœur” of the Guide. Garnet coloured, this wine surprises with its power from the beginning. Vanilla, liquorice and violets are led by massive tannins that evolve, however, subtly. Your taste buds will love its final ! This wine will be a long lasting jewel in your cellar.

Pierre Cros - aesthete and wine grower in the Minervois
Extract from the, article by Fabrizio Bucella

We are still in the south, in the Minervois, more precisely in Badens. Here lives an aesthete and wine grower, a personality who almost makes every bottle of wine with his own hands: micro-cuvées according to his mood and his talent. A way to show that the word «terroir» has a meaning in the Languedoc, and, what’s more, that it’s a place to produce fantastic wines! [...]

Pierre Cros Les Costes 2012, white wine, AOP Minervois
The wine is made from a whole collection of grape varieties: White Grenache, Vermentino, Muscat petits grains, white Piquepoul and grey Grenache. Harvested towards the end of August, the wine ferments in concrete tanks. In the nose, it smells like citrus fruits and mandarins, while freshness and finesse characterize the palate.

The three cuvées of Liberty (Nebbiolo, Pinot noir and Touriga nacional)
Every single wine of this «grape collection» is very interesting, evoking exitement on the palate. But I have to admit that I am unreasonably fond of the Nebbiolo, with its crispy fruitiness and its perfume of licorice and dried apricots. The delicate toasted smell is certainly due to its aging in oak barrels from Burgundy for several months. The wine is a simple «Vin de France», as the grape variety from the italian Piemont is not admitted to the AOP Minervois. Only 1500 liters, about 2000 bottles, are produced every year, a real «micro-cuvée»...

THE VERY FIRST CARIGNAN DAY - Article by André Dominé, Weinwirtschaft 7/12

The whole idea was coined by the German oenologist Sebastian Nickel, who did his study at Montpellier where he runs the Vin Parleur Agency (

After having fixed the date of the event on February 29, he organized the meeting of Carignan – producers at the Domaine Pierre Cros, Badens in the Minervois. Cros himself is bottling pure Carignan since 1997 from a vineyard planted in 1905, and was offering an up-line selection of his Minervois Vieille Vigne from 1999 to 2011.

Read the whole article in german here

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