Posts tagged: wine

2011 Harvest updates from around the Languedoc

I’m really stunned at the quality and quantity of harvest updates coming from Languedoc Roussillon winemakers in 2011.  We’ve come a long way and I can definitely feel the virtual groundswell.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite harvest updates in the region.

Favorite Harvest Updates

The Outsiders Facebook Page

I’m a member of this group of winemakers “from elsewhere”. Louise Hurren is curating the page very well with lots of fun updates from winemakers who don’t always have the time to post their own photos and messages during harvest.

 

Mas de l’Ecriture

The Fulla clan was doing awesome updates last year too. But this year’s harvest albums, I love how many photos focus on the harvesting team having a silly good time while they make their excellent wine.

eating grapes during harvest at mas de l'ecriture

Trinque Fougasse

This caviste in Montpellier goes around with his camera all the time and he doesn’t stop at harvest.  Lots of fun updates from some of the wineries represented in his shop and venue.


 

5000 Vines, Le Couvent Roujan

Ali gives Eileen a lesson in pigeageThe 5000 vines blog did an awesome six part day by day catalog of their harvest with lots of photos of everybody working together to bring in their ripe grapes.  They also did some video and even one audio clip of the bubbling sounds of a live fermentation! Very well done!

All of these are really swell collections of updates and deserve some attention!

If you find other updaters please let me know about them so I can follow along and add them eventually.

These updates are extremely important because they help communicate exactly how active and alive the winemaking community is in the Languedoc Roussillon.  It’s wonderful that some people are pushing so hard to get our lives out to the rest of the world!

Good work everybody!

 

Full Frontal Grapes!

Färdig SyrahLivet i Languedoc

5000 vines cinsault

dog smelling merlot grapes

grenache fermenting5000 vines fermentation

 Other Languedoc-Roussillon harvest updates

Hervé Bizeul talks about double rainbows and ennui.

arcenciel.jpg

Something in Swedish at Domaine de la Rabidote!

At O’Vineyards, I wax poetic about the whole country of France’s harvests.

A text based update from Domaine Guizard. Give him a break, it’s hard to take pictures when you’re covered in raisins.

Harvest update from Pech Celeyran.

Vendanges-2011.jpg

Girls and Boys split the winemaking duties at Pech d’Andre

Jus alicante

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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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Costieres de Nimes – A Walk in the Vines

Earlier this year, a group of bloggers participated in a very interesting introduction to the Costieres de Nimes.

Costieres de Nimes

As I mentioned in last year’s Secret Wine competition, Costieres de Nimes is an interesting wine country that sits between the Languedoc and Rhone (both geographically and stylistically).  This unique position allows them to create their own style of elegant, rich wines.

A few observations:

  • Mostly red and rosé; syrah, grenache, etc.
  • Most producers I met seemed to have relatively large properties (40+ hectares)
  • about 100 wineries and 400-some growers.
  • Approximately 4500 hectares
  • mixed agriculture and viticulture
  • The vines were at least 3 weeks ahead of schedule in May 2011

I just popped a bottle of Chateau Mourgues du Gres yesterday with my dad.  It was one of my favorite producers from the trip, and the bottle I brought home was just as good as I remembered.  Here’s a video of the winemaker at Mourgues du Gres recorded by Christian Pennaud from Vinblog.

Costieres de Nimes is a region where people can make rich wines with a lot of balance. My kind of place.

I might also note that this is a slightly more agrarian landscape than many parts of the south of France. Beside vineyards, you could find fruit orchards, squash gardens, and other signs that there’s a little more water in the Costieres de Nimes than you might find in the heights of the Coteaux du Languedoc. It’s not ALL garrigue here. And that’s not a bad thing. The ultimate proof that this is an interesting terroir is that we tasted great wine (and enjoyed a beautiful walk too!)

Vignes Toquées

The Vignes Toquées event is a really wonderful opportunity to taste wine in context amidst the vines. You walk along a route that connects six vineyards. Each vineyard has a food station so that, by the end of the day, you’ve had a six course meal, tasted dozens of wines, and seen several different properties.

You really get to roam around where the wine comes from. See the vines. Kick the dirt. Feel the Mediterranean sunshine (and this May, it was out IN FORCE).

The biggest problem with tasting wine this way is that you can get really really hot (and somewhat exhausted). But the producers did an amazing job of keeping wines at temperature and the food was delicious.  And they had lots of water at all the stations.  Seasoned wine tasters know that water can be a rare commodity at some tasting events.  But there was plenty here to keep us hydrated as we walked in the warm Mediterranean sunshine.  Though I will admit that even I started to falter somewhere between the bull meat and the cheese course.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was drinking more water than wine by the end of the walk (liters of both! ;D)

All in all, these sort of ballades gourmandes are really awesome. Although you should remember to pace yourself!

Toward the end of the day, I caught up with Daniel Roche who has helped to organize the Vignes Toquees and other ballades gourmandes around the region.  He refused to take credit for how well the event ran, but you can tell he’s very pleased!  “Il faisait beau. Il fasait chaud.  Mais on est comme-même dans une région de chaleur et de soleil donc c’est bien qu’il faisait beau et chaud!”

What kind of people come to Vignes Toquees?

I also love how varied the crowd was. French and foreign. Young and old. People came as couples, family outings, or just a fun day with friends. It’s great to see that the event appeals to such a diverse array of people.

Some of the other bloggers’ accounts

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