Posts tagged: vineyard

Laurent Vaille – Grange des Peres

A friend of mine just posted this video interview at Grange des Peres, and it’s everything you’d expect. Laurent Vaillé is the enigmatic and reclusive winemaker at the heart of this property, and he would sooner kick you out of the tasting room than wax poetic about his wine.

This interview captures his disarming charm in the awkward silence after questions, in the quiet giggles, and so on. My kind of interview! Well done, Obiwine!  And I’m glad there’s some footage with the dad Alain too.  All very cool.

For the wine nerds

I often claim that I’m writing this blog for people who just like wine and don’t necessarily obsess over it.  So I’ll step back from that claim for a second and say that this next bit is very nerdy.  In my mind, there are several important Languedoc personalities around Aniane and two of them are pretty much direct neighbors.  There are certain overt similarities between their projects, and then they’re almost exact opposites in every other way imaginable.  And I am fascinated by this pair of great men.

From the beginning of the video, JJ Carré sets up how special Grange des Pères is, notably because its a Cabernet intensive wine.  Since Cabernet Sauvignon is not an indigenous grape varietal to the south of France, this choice forces Domaine de la Grange des Pères to abandon their French AOC status and instead be labeled as simple Vin de Table.  This is a truly rebellious move.

Vaillé alludes to his training at Trevallon, an estate in Provence that also works with Cabernet Sauvignon (with remarkable results!)  But whether we’re with his dad Alain Vaillé on the hilltop parcel of vines above Aniane or down by the irrigation canal with Laurent, I can’t help but notice the elephant in the vineyard.  The subject nobody is talking about.

The big reference here that nobody seems to be mentioning is that the direct neighbor of Grange des Peres also planted Cabernet Sauvignon in this area (in the 70s) and also makes an expensive vin de table with it.  Now, having tasted both of these properties, I assure you that they are very very different.  And I’m only bringing this up because there’s such a charming and unlikely dichotomy formed by these two neighbors.  A dichotomy which adds a lot of color to the region.

Laurent Vaillé is a quiet man, his answers to every question seem restrained and shy.  He’s known for being a bit reclusive and journalists often have a hard time getting in touch.  He’s not afraid to say no to a visit even if it’s a critic or other emblematic wine figure.  In his first vintage, the 15 hectare property only produced a few thousand bottles.  Grange des Peres is a remarkable wine that (whenever I taste it) almost always seems a year or two older than it says on the label (perhaps a sign of that elegance and maturity he refers to during the interview!).  And Laurent’s only forty something but he seems like a very sage winemaker with a lot of patience and an ability to wait quietly.

A few minutes away, you’ll find Aimé Guibert at the Mas de Daumas Gassac.  This neighbor is also making a top quality wine with its own style and flavor.  But even when I’m drinking 8 or 9 year old vintages from Daumas Gassac, I always feel like I’m drinking his wines too young.  And the man seems that way to me too.  He’s 80-something, but he’s still incredibly alert and bouncing off the walls at times.  His demeanor is so comically opposed to Vaillé’s that I can’t help but think about them in a room together.  Guibert is boisterous and press-savvy, and he always seems to have the right answer on the tip of his tongue.  Vaillé seems quiet and withdrawn, uncertain that any of the questions even have “right answers”.  They’re really wonderfully different.

And yet they both have this sort of steadfast, rebellious defiance about them.

Anyway, this has been a tangent, but I really hope it’s a fun insight into Aniane.  You have these two winemakers who both seek out excellence.  And they have totally different personalities.  But they’re both sort of infamous for being rebels.  It’s wacky.  I hope neither of them gets pissed off by this write-up because I like what they’ve done and what they continue to do for the region.  But even if it does irk one or both of them, I have my rebellious side to think about too. ;D

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Helicopter over Corbieres and La Clape

Oh boy. So I got to fly over some of my favorite places in the Languedoc in one of Gerard Bertrand’s helicopters. Naturally we started and ended at two of his vineyards: Cigalus in Boutenac Corbieres and L’Hospitalet in La Clape. The journey took me over the northeastern portion of the Corbieres, the etangs (type of marshland) around Bages and Gruissan and the Massif de la Clape.

These are all landmarks that define the department of Aude in the Languedoc. These are some of my favorite places, and it was great to see them from above.

The big thing to take in is that the Languedoc and Aude in particular has a varied terrain with lots of peaks and valleys, plateaus, hills, and so on. These differing reliefs run right up to the coast and provide a wonderful backdrop for planting grapevines. They drain well and they create many different microclimates in close proximity. The Languedoc is a land of diversity!

I traced the approximate helicopter route on google maps if you want to follow along.

I also tried to caption a few photos from the ride so that you can be more certain of what you’re seeing when.

The landmarks in the video that people ask about most are the pink rectangles near Gruissan’s beachfront. Those are salins or salt pans where sea salt is harvested from the brine that is left behind after the sun evaporates sea water. The pink color comes from a microalgea called Dunaliella salina. Not all salt pans have this beautiful shade of pink and most fleur de sel I’ve seen in other regions retain a sort of grayish color rather than the pink one.

Enjoy the pictures and video! I hope you all get a chance to experience the massive beauty of the region one day.

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Veraison Pictures

It’s veraison, and lots of winemakers are posting gorgeous photos of their grapes changing purple.

Here is a roundup of my favorite pictures of grapes turning purple around the Languedoc Roussillon.

:)

 

Clos Pacalis

syrah grapes changing colors

grapes changing color at veraison

grapes change colors during veraison

Mas de l’Ecriture

grapes change colors

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Spring Vineyard Pictures

Vineyards around the Languedoc Roussillon are posting beautiful pictures that showcase that special spring time mood when life returns to the vines and wild flowers of the region.

Here are a few of my favorite photos with links to the original winemaker blog that posted them.

 

Budbreak at Borde Rouge.

 

Young pinot grows at Clos Romain

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Springtime pictures from the 5000 vines blog attached to Couvent Roujan

This is the Syrah cane pruned.

 

Carignan in a type of head pruning, or bush pruning.

 

Gorgeous tractor picture from springtime in la RabidoteSer du vad fin traktorn blivit med nya bakdäck?  Inte!

 

And it’s not springtime without some wild asparagus popping up in the vineyard via @Domaine Jones

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8Y7HIMq6QrQ/TY9qy8funhI/AAAAAAAAAfI/lnPxELEOG_E/s1600/Wild+asparagus.JPG

 

But spring also has its hardships.  March and April showers can cause a lot of problems.

Photos of la Clape after a torrential rain in March turns the massif into an island (or at least a peninsula) once again. via Pech-Céleyran

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Fowl swimming in the vines.

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And on Easter Sunday, the Corbieres was hit with a terrifying hail storm that has devastated certain parcels.   I don’t know of any winemakers who are posting photos yet (they’re surely busy sending said photos to their insurance companies!), but here’s an article from La Vigne that includes a photo of the damage.

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