Badet Clément, with their Languedoc arm, Abbotts & Delaunay, recently acquired the Domaine de la Métairie d’Alon in Limoux from Jean-Louis Denois. This is a 25 hectare estate in about 25 different plots, situated around the village of Magrie in the Haute Vallée of the Aude. So Laurent Delaunay was showing his first wines in London last month, and very good they are too.
There is a Village range and a single Vineyard Range
2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Le Village Pays d’Oc
Very pale Provençal colour, with fresh dry raspberry fruit on the nose and more fresh acidity on the palate. Crisp and fresh.
2016 Chardonnay Le Village, Pays d’Oc
Elegantly buttery fruit on the nose. Quite rounded and leesy with fresh acidity. Nicely textured. Youthful The grapes are not destemmed, and there is a careful selection of the juice, which is given a 24 hour débourbage, and then 70% of it is fermented in tank and 30% in one to four year old barrels, followed by ageing in both tank and barrel. The malo is blocked and the wine bottled in June
2015 Chardonnay Le Palajo, Limoux
Quite rounded nose, with an elegant palate. Nicely crafted, rounded fruit, with good balancing acidity. It comes from a single one hectare vineyard. The grapes are riper than for Le Village, and generally given more TLC. For Limoux all the wine must be fermented and aged in barrel of which 10 – 15% are new. Some barrels will undergo a malo-lactic fermentation, but not all, and there may be a little bâtonnage, if needed, but not systematically. The wine is bottled early, usually in early June, before the heat of the summer, to retain the freshness.
2015 Pinot Noir Le Village, Pays d’Oc
Medium colour. Fresh dry raspberry fruit on the nose, with more raspberry fruit on the palate. Medium weight; tight knit and youthful. This comes from vineyards that are not chosen to be a single vineyard. About 15% whole bunch pressing and vinification in concrete tanks. A little remontage. Ageing mainly in tank, with 25% in one to four year old barrels for about six months. Bottling in early June.
2014 Pinot Noir Solaire, Haute Vallée de l’Aude
Medium colour. Quite a firm oak nose, balanced by a sweeter palate, with some vanilla notes and youthful tannins, and an elegant finish. The two single vineyards are picked a little later than the village wine. About 60% destemmed. Fermented in 50 hl tronconic vats. A four to five days pre-fermentation cold maceration at about 15-16C and the temperature is allowed to increase slowly allowing the fermentation to start. Minimal intervention during fermentation, a bit of remontage and two or three pigeages. Once the fermentation is finished, the wine is kept at about 27-30C for about four or five days before pressing. Ageing for about nine months in barrels that are one to four years old.
2015 Pinot Noir, la Métairie, Pays d’Oc
Good colour, Ripe refreshing raspberry fruit, with some oak, and on the palate ripe fruit, with some acidity and a streak of tannin. Nicely integrated oak, with fresh juicy fruit. Good balance. A lovely example of Pinot Noir from Limoux. Tthe winemaking is the same as for Solaire. And it is a Pays d’Oc rather than Haute Vallée de l’Aude for bureaucratic reasons of French wine legislation, a question of where the wine was actually made.
The obvious question to ask Laurent was: what do you do that your Languedoc colleagues might not to, or vice versa. He considers that his Burgundian experience helps a lot, but the most important thing is to adapt to the local conditions. But at the same time ‘we are very lucky in having a good knowledge of what good Pinot Noir is. We know from experience that Pinot Noir expresses the best of its personality on specific terroir, namely calcareous limestone, with grapes that are not over-ripe, with a good level of acidity and without too much extraction, with an elegant subtle structure. It is totally different from Burgundy, where people reduce the yield to facilitate the ripening and to obtain better concentration’.
‘In the Languedoc, we have the sun, the colour, the concentration. Concentration and extraction have to be limited in the Languedoc. You do not need to reduce the yield too much, otherwise we would have too much concentration. It is also important to harvest quite early, so that the typical aromas of the red fruit of the Pinot Noir express themselves. In Burgundy we would be tempted to wait; in the Languedoc not. A smooth extraction is important too, with gentle pump overs and very little pigeage, with a fairly cool fermentation and not too long a maceration’. Laurent also works without adding any sulphur until the end of the fermentation, after the malolactic fermentation, and again a little just before bottling.
And a sparkling wine is in the pipe line, due for release next spring, a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, and a blend of the 2015 and 2016 vintages, vinified without any sulphur and aged partly in old barrels. However it will not be a Limoux, as there will be no Mauzac in the blend. I can’t wait to try it.