Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Un Vent de Folie!

It's been the most superb weather here in Bordeaux for the last 10 days … a huge turn around from what was almost a disastrous vintage. 30-degree heat and cool, dry nights have enabled the reds to reach optimum ripeness and concentration. Those growers who played the risk game by waiting can now look forward to making some superb wines!

With another week of sun and heat forecast we will be taking in the Cabernets at the end of the week. That means I can make another dash down to the Midi to do the rounds with Maitena checking all the ferments

I have just spent the day helping Jean-Charles making our ‘Un Vent de Folie’ in his very small garage winery. We are both tall guys and in his tiny garage cellar it was like playing twister but we know each other well-enough over the last ten years to be comfortable working together!

It’s a dream team of top grower and a good winemaker; both with the passion for Grenache and the Maury terroir.

It’s hard, very hard, but with sheer graft and determination it gets better and better and better. We are so proud to have made this wine and I only wish his Great-Grandparents could have tasted it

JC’s wife Celine who was full time in the vineyard unfortunately couldn't be there to enjoy quality time with her family and me as she was back at work. However she had prepared our lunch last night when she got home from working at the supermarket in Perpignan.

Granddad (Papy) and Grandma (Mamy) were there though and arrived to enjoy a well-deserved break after they had been in the vineyard clearing up after harvest. Once again over lunch I learned even more about wine, the family and the region, and of course Grandma insisted on washing up! Papy was telling the stories and asking when Tony would return so he could redo the snail BBQ in his tool shed that he so fondly remembers!

Such a great family and you can’t get any closer to true wine growers. And we (Laithwaites) help, so important.

It all started 10 years ago when I was randomly placed as a ‘flying winemaker’ working at the cooperative in Maury. Amongst the mayhem of harvest, I spotted a trailer full of the best Grenache I had ever tasted and at the wheel was a young grower Jean-Charles ‘JC’ Duran. We hit it off straight away with our passion for the local terroir and the determination to make the best red wine from the local varietals.

After meeting a couple of times in the cooperative tractor car park he decided to take me out to his family’s remote vineyards planted in a 'soil' of scrunched up slate. But the yields were tiny and he was worried that, like many small farmers, he'd have to abandon growing.

We became mates and over beers one night in the La Placette village café we made a plan. He would go independent and convert the garage below his house into a basic two-tank winery. I would make his wine there, give it some barrel ageing elsewhere … and now ‘elsewhere’ is proudly in Le Chai Au Quai.

Now every year I haul his young wine up to Le Chai au Quai where I look after it like it was my own child. Here I give it careful ageing in new French oak barrels and the best bottling conditions which this wine would have never seen!

Ten years on our collaboration and careful work in the vineyard and in his garage winery has resulted in the ultimate grower/winemaker partnership wine ‘Un Vent de Folie’. I think together we now make a wine well worthy of his magnificent ancient vines. Try one; you won’t be disappointed.

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