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Eric and Corinne Laguerre live in a village at the top of Saint-Martin that seems to defy gravity. Each morning, Eric wakes up and climbs into his giant 1977 Cruiser, parked at an alarming angle, and blasts into his steep vineyards on the foothills of the Pyrénées. Between the rows of meticulously farmed parcels of gobelet-trained Grenache, young Mourvèdre, Syrah, old vine Carignan, Vermentino, Macabeau, Roussanne and Marsanne, the ground shimmers with bits of exposed granite glittering in the sun. At 1,700 feet, the mountain pass, with its views of the Mediterranean sea and flowering bushes for which his top wines "Le Ciste" are named, are unquestioningly beautiful, but what is most impressive is how precisely he reflects this place in each of his cuvées.
Eric Laguerre has worked his 40 hectares organically since the late 1990s. He farms only with compost and has never used chemicals or synthetic fertilizers on his vines. In the winter months he employs sheep to help manage grass and in the summer he cuts rather than plows in order to preserve biodiversity and the intricate root systems beneath the soils. He is passionate about terroir, and his natural vinification methods in the cellar are directed at achieving the purest expression of the granite and gneiss soils, as well as the cool mountain clime influences. He only ferments with native yeasts and uses minimal sulfur at bottling. We highly reccomend these wines to anyone curious about exploring the terroir of the Roussillon. These wines (especially the Ciste cuvées and Eos Rouge) are perfect for mid-term aging and happily, they are affordable enough to drink some now and keep a few for later.
Further along the Roman Route, in the town of Roquebrun ("brown rock"), Saint-Chinian, Thierry Navarre is busy saving the Languedoc's forgotten cepages. In 1988 he became the third generation to take over the domaine's high-altitude vineyards and continue his grandfather's legacy of preserving ancient varieties that existed for 600 years before they were lost to phylloxera (the devastating vine louse) and more fashionable, non-indigenous cultivars. Today, Thierry is proud to be one of the few winemakers in the world still making wine from the obscure Œillades (a cousin of Cinsault) and the light and delightfully floral Ribeyrenc.
Like Laguerre's vineyards, Thierry's are planted high up in the mountains, farmed biodynamically, and surrounded by olive trees and flowering bushes. The vines are southwest exposed, and the soils are composed of loose brown schist, which generally produce lighter, more early-drinking styles than wines from the clay and limestone based soils in the south of the Saint-Chinian appellation. His intuition for winemaking and passion for history translate into some of the most compelling wines we carry from the Languedoc-Roussillon.
We're very proud to be working with both of these fine estates and we hope you'll enjoy the selection we have to offer today! Please note: inventory will arrive Friday 7/20. Amanda Bowman
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2016 is a layered blend of de-stemmed and whole cluster Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvèdre from soils of decomposed granite and gneiss. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented separately and aged for 12 months in barrel, then assembled in fiber tank before bottling with minimal added sulfur. This vintage is evocative of the 2014 with softer, finer tannins compared to the robust 2015. The aromas are complex and redolent of savory herbs (thyme, garrigue), game, black peppercorn, blood orange, and dark chocolate. The palate is balanced with mouth-coating, powdery tannins, dried herbs, black pepper, and an energetic, long mineral finish from the granite soils. Best served with a slight chill alongside grilled meat, charcuterie, cheese, or veggies roasted with Moroccan spices. This is drinking well now, but should be even better in 5-8 years. Amanda Bowman
"Eos Blanc" is a rewarding discovery for anyone seeking an intriguing wine of terrioir at an affordable price. Eric Laguerre's vineyards are planted at high-altitude in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet, where the acidic soils are composed of gneiss and broken-down granite with some pockets of quartz. This composition forms a sturdy backbone of dense minerality and abundant freshness to this "entry-level" cuvée -- a testament to Eric's excellent farming. The 2017 is made from direct press juice, aged in neutral demi-muid for about eight months with minimal added S02 before bottling. The wine shows pale gold in the glass and immediately charms with bright citrus aromas that evolve into notes of ripe pear, hazelnut, garrigue, and warm apricot skins on the palate. This was the first vintage that the Laguerres harvested in August due to the extreme heat in 2017. Despite this, the wine drinks pure and fresh with an invigorating mineral acidity that lingers on the herbal finish. A fantastic every day wine with potential to age 3-5 years, though we're happily drinking this now with or without salad and goat cheeses. Amanda Bowman
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2016 is made from equal parts Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and a small addition of Macabeu. Each parcel is hand-harvested, the grapes are fermented separately with native yeasts and raised in used demi-muid. This superlative cuvée is a fascinating showcase of the Roussillon's mighty terrior. The acidic soils of decomposed granite give this wine excellent mineral tension that deepens with time in bottle. Aromas are intricately woven with notes of bright lemon oil, verbena, sage, and salty seashells. The palate is supple and round with generous flavors of pear, white flowers, thyme, and almond framed by pure mineral acidity. This is a fantastic wine that is delicouis now but will develop a beautiful honeyed texture and rich flavors after 5-10 years in bottle. Eric recommends pairing this with sardines on toast, goat cheeses, and roasted chicken. Amanda Bowman
(Was $13.99) Another delicious wine from the affable and talented Eric Laguerre, from organic Syrah, Carignan and Grenache vines grown on granite soils high in the mountains of the Roussillon. The palate is refreshing and dry with hints of raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, almond and stone. Eric's great farming, his natural vinification and the high-altitude granite terroir produce this lovely, inexpensive rosé. Highly recommended!
Eric Laguerre's "Eos Rouge" is an elegant blend of 80% Grenache from 40-year-old gobelet-trained vines, with some Carignan and Syrah from soils of decomposed granite, gneiss, and some veins of quartz. Like "Le Passage," the grapes are fermented in fiber tanks with native yeasts for about two weeks, then aged in concrete. The 2017 is strikingly pure-fruited, with vibrant strawberry and red cherry aromas underpinned by earthy spice, red-currant, and bitter chocolate notes. The peppery tannins and mineral acidity from the high mountain clime form its exquisite structure (Eric says that after 2 years in bottle, you might think it's Pinot Noir). This is a balanced wine that should pair wonderfully with grilled sausages, lentils, or goat cheeses. Open an hour before serving if drinking now, or hold for up to 10 years. Amanda Bowman
"Le Passage" is a hardy blend of 65% Syrah (de-stemmed) and 35% Carignan from Eric Laguerre's highest parcel (1,700 feet), on soils of decomposed granite. The grapes are pressed into fiber tank for fermentation with native yeasts, then aged in concrete with minimal added SO2. This cuvee is fuller-bodied than his "EOS Rouge," with the high-quality of his low-yielding Carignan on full display. The robe shows a deep purple in the glass with enticing aromas of lavender, blood orange, and plum aromas. The dense palate has a silky texture with supple, bitter cocoa tannins. The flavors of blackberry, stone, and plum finish with a fresh citrus acidity that is especially delicious when served with a chill. Drink now or save for 2-3 years for a more mature experience. Amanda Bowman
(Was $11.99) Thierry Navarre is one of the few people who still grow Oeillades - a nearly extinct grape that has a long history in the Langudedoc and is thought to be an old cousin of Cinsault. Thierry's Oeillades grows on the rugged mountainsides above Roquebrun in Saint-Chinian. The 2017 shows a beautiful wild strawberry and purple-tinged color in the glass. The nose offers abundant strawberry and orange aromas with delicate notes of lavender, cardamom and dried rose petals. The palate is light and wonderfully lifted with flavors of ripe strawberry, herbal tea, and refreshing exotic citrus on the finish. A balanced rosé with plenty of aromatic complexity and crunchy acidity to pair with a variety of dishes. We recently enjoyed this with Mediterranean-inspired fried food - a highly recommended pairing! Amanda Bowman
An almost extinct grape grown in the Languedoc, in southern France, Ribeyrenc has been preserved mostly due to the work of Thierry Navarre and his father before him. It’s thin-skinned and yields a fresh and vibrant red wine that could easily pass for a dark rosé. Fresh, floral, and unlike anything else! EL
Thierry Navarre's touchstone "Laouzil" is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah from old vines planted on brown schist ("Laouzil" in the local dialect) soils in the rugged mountains of Roquebrun (Saint-Chinian). The grapes are de-stemmed and aged in neutral barrel before bottling with minimal sulfur. The robe is a lovely red/black in the glass. The wine shows seductive aromas of spiced plums, dried rosemary, and deeper notes of coffee and dry earth. The rich palate is bursting with black fruit flavors, peppercorn, and savory herbs with a structured texture of dense minerals and bright acidity on the long, persistent finish. This is a fascinating wine of terroir that Thierry says will be perfect in 5 years (though it is delicious now). Amanda Bowman
This beautiful Languedoc red is from very old vines of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grown in Thierry Navarre's mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. The 2015 Olivier is a bit lighter and more elegant than previous vintages, showing lovely aromas of morello cherries, red currant and plum with notes of earth, pepper and brown spice. Nice ripeness on the palate with red and black fruits balanced by bright acidity with mineral flavors that continue on the long juicy finish. This is a big Languedoc red that is light on it's feet - nice with a coq au vin as well as heftier stews and grilled meats. Decant well in advance if drinking now or open the night before - or cellar for five to ten years. Thanks to Thierry Navarre for his beautiful natural wines that are great values! DL