Grange des Pères rouge

The vineyard of Grange des Pères is in an unlikely place. Close to the village of Aniane the plot of land was limestone with some clay underneath at 300 meter height. It needs dynamite and bulldozing to make the poor soil ready for vines. Laurent Vaillé cultivated this land in 1989 and placed Cabernet Sauvignon vines on this land from Domaine Trévallon in the Provence (where he used to work) and from Gérard Chave in the burgundy he bought Syrah, Marsanne and Mourvèdre vines. The land was already owned by his family but largely not used for winemaking. Because of the use of Cabernet Sauvignon the wine is classified as an IGP.

The wine is a combination of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Counoise. He also makes a white made of Roussanne, Marsanne and Chardonnay but that wine is extremely difficult to find, even more difficult than his red. The wine speaks for itself and that is why he has no website and rarely allows visitors on his domain. Of course, even without this marketing alle the wine is sold long before it is bottled. The land is quite close to Mas Daumas Gassac, another visionary that early on saw the potential of this terrain in the Languedoc. If ever someone needs proof that the Languedoc can be much more than just being the supplier of large quantities of bulk wine, proof is here. He works with low yields of 20Hl/Ha.

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The wine is fermented in steel tanks and than aged separately by grape type in barriques for 24 months on their lees. Assembly is done just before bottling.

And than the wine. This is really an exceptional wine. I tasted the 2012 (Summer 2017) as well as the 2014 (Februari 2018). the fragrance of the wine is incredibly delicate but at the same time overpowering. Violets, bit of spice and elegant berries. This is the kind of wine where I am hesitant to start drinking and just keep enjoying sniffs that are promising the reward when drinking. On the palate it is an intriguing mix between the structure of the Cabernet Sauvignon, the elegance of the Syrah and the more edgy taste of the Mourvèdre that makes it so much more interesting than many others. the taste lots of fresh fruit but in a mature way, some spice and mint in the end and of course a long lingering aftertaste. Tannins are round and pleasant. It is a wine that needs to be sipped slowly and attentively with long periods of sniffing in between. RATING: 95

REGION: Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac. A region with lots of hills, dry with lots of hard rock and a mountainous climate.

VINEYARD: Biodynamic/Organic farming without interest in certification. 11 Ha (10 red) and 300 meter high.

GRAPES: Syrah (40%), Mourvèdre (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Counoise (10%)

CELLAR: Destemmed, 1/3 new oak and aged in Barrique on the lees for 24 months. Assembly before botteling, no filtration.

Guímaro: Finca Capeliños

Before 1991 the family of Pedro Rodriguez did make wine but mainly used for local use. Around that time more effort was placed in the creation and professionalisation of the Ribeira Sacra D.O. The Ribeira Sacra is a region in the northern part of Spain where wine culture goes back to the monks of the 12th century. The landscape looks a bit like the Mosel with high and steep (72 degrees) hills with a meandering river below (the Sil). Many of the vines here are easily a 100 years old.

Adegas Guímaro (“rebel”) is the name of the company producing several wines in this region. The reds are dominantly made of the Mencia grape with a maximum of 15% others (probably Gernacha?). Total production is a little over 5000 cases but 4000 of these are the more simple Tinto.

The Capeliños is one of his two top line wines, the other being the Pombeiras of which only 100 cases are made a year. The first thing you notice in the wine is a distinct animalistic base flavour (because of the natural yeast I guess) but coupled with an explosion of fresh red fruits and some elegant spices. To me this wine is always the perfect marriage between the elegance of a Burgundy Pinot Noir and the robust structure of a Cote Rôtie Syrah. On the palate it is very fruit driven but made more interesting by the raw edge to the wine. It is a wine that is hard to stop drinking. The aftertaste lingers long with an increasing spicy taste but always accompanies with a fresh, almost mineral base. RATING: 92

REGION: Galicia, Ribeira Sacra, Amandi. A region not unlike the Mosel with it’s steep hills and soil of slate. Hot summers and wet winters (700mm around the Sil river). This area is also more contental than other Ribeira Sacra areas.

VINEYARD: Organic farming, most work by hand due to the steep hills. 0,6 Ha vineyard. 3oo to 500 meters high

GRAPES: Mencia

CELLAR: whole cluster including stems, wild yeast, long fermentation, 13 months in barriques, minimal sulphur. 160 cases produced.

Léon Barral: Faugerès Jadis

I love wines that have a bit of a raw edge to them. It is hard to describe: it smells a bit like stable but the taste is much more fresh than wines with Brett (that, on occasion I enjoy too). It has a certain animalistic taste. I find it in wines like Guimaro Capellinos and in the wines of Léon Barral from Faugères (Languedoc). Barral uses natural yeasts that is often one of the reasons for this raw unpolished but oh so nice edge.

Domaine Léon Barral is managed by Didier Barral and he farms his vineyards zealously according to biodynamic principles. In winter his vineyard is even the home of a herd of cows, horses and pigs that keep the soil aerated as well as fertilised. To a rationalist like me the idea of biodynamics is slightly strange (moonlight?) but I definitely recognize that farmers that adopt biodynamic farming are the ones that are really focussed on creating the best wine possible from the land they farm. And willing to put in the effort to makes something memorable.

And you can taste the hard work and singular attention to purity he pours into his wines. The Jadis is his middle red between the normal Faugères and the Valinière. The first thing that you notice is the fresh but animalistic aromas from the wine entwined with fresh berries. Intriguing aromas that promise a complex wine. On the palate the animalistic edge is definitely there but accompanies with a lot of complex and developing flavours. Some herbal flavours but not heavy, accompanied by lots of fresh berries with a certain minerality and high acidity. Complex development in the long aftertaste. Not an easy, mellow wine and I think mainly enjoyed by experienced wine lovers. Tannins are slightly drying (2013 drank on March 2018). This wine can easily age 10 years and more for lovers of aged wine. RATED: 91

REGION: Faugères is a commune in the departement Herault in the Languedoc region and the name of the AOC. Soil type is mainly schist. Schist in this region helps to balance heat and water. Weather is a mix of mediterranean and mountainous. In general mild weather but on occasion it can be brutal.

VINEYARD: Soil is schist. Biodynamic farming with zeal. 10 Ha of vineyard for the Jadis with vines of 30 to 60 years. Gobelet style pruning of vines

GRAPES: 50% Carignan, 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache. The Syrah comes from a north facing slope to ensure longer ripening of the grapes

CELLAR: 4 weeks of maceration, natural yeasts, 26 month in barriques (10% new), no filtering and minimal sulphites in the end.