DEUX MOULINS PINOT NOIR 2019
LANGUEDOC + LOIRE, FRANCE
BRIGHT CLEAN PRETTY
CLASSIC / HVE3 / 750ML
A clean-cut Pinot Noir from two very different regions in France, the Languedoc and the Loire Valley. The differences in climate and site build a robust ripe Pinot Noir that highlight variety rather than place. Strawberries, ripening plums and wet straw.
Sourced from the Paris wine company: The fruit that goes into the Deux Moulins cuvée is a blend of Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley and the Languedoc. The Loire Valley component comes from sand and gravel vineyards in Chateaumeillant and adds elegance and finesse. The Languedoc fruit adds a fruity richness. Together, they create an exceptionally delicious French Pinot Noir.
CATHERINE BERNARD LE CARIGNAN 2017
GENTLE EARTHY INTEGRATED
CLASSIC / ORGANIC BIODYNAMIC / 750ML
The Carignan is sourced from two sites, ranging from 50-100 years old. The wine was macerated for a week with 50% whole bunch and the rest destemmed. The wine undulates from peppery-earthy notes to reduced tart berries.
From the producer: Catherine Bernard was a journalist with Libération Newspaper, first in Paris and then Montpellier. But in 2003, turning 40, newly divorced and with two young children, she needed a change of direction.
Originally from Brittany, Catherine grew up on a farm, her father was a grain dealer, and she wanted to be back in touch with the land. She obtained her certificate in agriculture, specialising in viticulture and oenology and began searching for a small vineyard, initially around Corbières where her friend Maxime Magnon was located. But it was to be the commune of Saint Drézéry, Languedoc that Catherine settled, purchasing 3 hectares of land in 2005, 1 hectare under vine to Grenache and Mourvedre.
In 2006 during her first harvest, she was to discover part of what was sold to her as Grenache on the bill of sale, was in part actually Marselan, a hybrid grape of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon created in the 1960’s. An unforeseen challenge that Catherine embraced. This original parcel is what makes the cuvee, La Carbonelle.
Over the years she has purchased more land and now has 4 hectares of vineyards, with the addition of Cinsault, Alicante Bouchet and Terre Bourret under vine. The soils are a composition of limestone and clay with large pebbles, the vineyards are all certified organic and farmed in a biodynamic spirit.
In the early stages she vinified each harvest in friends’ wineries, until 2015 when she completed the building of her small 'chai'. It is a thoughtfully laid out building with cellar work done by gravity, its design inspired by the work of Australian architect, Glenn Murcutt.
One visit, Catherine explained to me that for her, Languedoc is ‘the forest of France, the land of Freedom. There is a tradition of vines in the region, but not of wine, allowing the freedom to make wine in a very personal way.’
Her production is small with 16,000 to 20,000 bottles per annum. Much of her wine stays in France and her largest export market is Japan, an early adopter. For 13 years, Catherine has worked alone, doing all the vineyard and cellar work herself. In 2018 she was joined by her son Nicolas.
A woman of character and strength, it is impossible not to be inspired by Catherine. Her deft hand and feminine touch produce wines of incredible elegance.
MAS AMIEL 10 ANS D'AGE FORTIFIED GRENACHE 750ML
MAS AMIEL FORTIFIED GRENACHE 2016 375ML
AXEL PRUFER LES TEMPS DES CERISES LES LENDEMAINS QUI CHANTENT GRENACHE 2017
HERBAL ELEGANT RAW
LEFT OF CENTRE / PRACTICE ORGANIC / 750ML
Forest wine, an isolated vineyard surrounded by rugged forest. Axel Prufer encourages biodiversity as a way of working with nature to produce the most delicious grapes. His wines are raw and incredibly expressive. 100% Grenache, soft tannins surrounded by mountain herbs and red berries.
From the Producer: Les Lendemains qui Chantent is a beautiful and quite restrained wine (in the sense that it is elegant rather than exuberant) made from 100% Grenache from vines that are at least 35 years old. The vineyard itself is situated at 450 metres above sea level in the forests of the rugged Parc Naturel Regional du Haut-Languedoc which lies inland from the city of Beziers.
It exhibits very soft tannins and lovely herbal and flower aromas. There is a distinct minerality associated with this wine derived from the decaying granite and quartz soils.
It is Axel’s leading cuvée, but he only releases it in years where the crop is exceptional! And this year it is certainly exceptional. This is a stunning wine of great elegance and charm which may benefit by being poured into a carafe just before drinking.
Axel Prüfer was born and raised in East Germany but moved to France as a young man to take up a career in wine making. He produces delicious wines naturally with as little intervention as possible – many of his wines have no added sulphur.
In fact, on a visit to his winery we tried one of his cuvees which had been bottled without sulphur and one that had been bottled with minimal amounts of sulphur and the result was simply amazing. The one without sulphur stood head and shoulders above the other for freshness, vitality and flavour.
He has been described as a ‘darling of the natural wine bar movement’. He is a quiet, thoughtful and engaging young winemaker who is totally committed to producing non-interventionist wines.
We visited him in the mountains behind Beziers and were fascinated by the lengths he goes to in ensuring that his grapes are healthy and his wines are pure. Every sentence he utters is the result of deep thought.
We discussed the problems of grapes grown in monocultures such as in Chablis and Champagne and then crammed into his small truck to bump our way up hillsides through thick forest and then for the final part of the way by foot until we reached his remote vineyard surrounded by forest. There is absolutely no chance of spray-drift here!
Because the forests are the natural habitat of wild boars, Axel collects human hair from the hairdressers in the local village and spreads it around the boundary of his vineyard. He says that the boar pick up the human scent from the hair and avoid the vineyard. The vineyard is a picture of health with spiderwebs everywhere and an amazing biodiversity on display.
All this is for nothing of course if the wine doesn’t taste delicious. Axel only uses natural yeast to ferment his wines and he adds no sulphur at all (we put a ‘Contains Sulphites’ warning on the label because some sulphites can be naturally produced during the wine making process). This gives them a liveliness that is most appealing.
He uses tanks made from stainless steel or fibreglass or large, old barrels that impart no oak flavour. The tanks have ‘floating’ lids so that no air can get at the wine if he does not have enough to fill a tank.