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Domaine de la Grange des Peres 2015

southern French red blend

Regular price $199.99 Sale price $289.99

Domaine de la Grange des Peres
l’Hérault, Languedoc

40% Syrah
40% Mourvèdre
10% Cabernet Sauvignon
10% Counoise

• Traditional farming and vinification
• Wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks
• Vines in taille gobelet
• Grapes are harvested and vinified separately and then aged in 228-L barrels separately. Blended after the wines are fully complete, before settling and bottling.

These are very in-demand (IYKYK kinda thing) wines that have shot up in demand the last few years and have become harder to find! If it matters, his neighbor is Aime Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac, one of southern France's greatest estates. Folks finally caught on to the hard work and resulting high-quality wines at the address of Laurent Vaillé in l'Herault deep in the Languedoc. It also does not hurt he cut his teeth picking up knowledge and winemaking know-how working under 3 masters of their craft:

  • Coche-Dury - the legendary Jean-François of Meursault's Coche-Dury
  • Chave - Gérard Chave, the OG of Chave
  • Trévallon - Eloi Durrbach at Provence's greatest wine & producer
In fact, Laurent sourced his Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussane cuttings from Gérard Chave and his Cabernet from Domaine Trévallon. Yields are crazy low, many times lower than Lalou Bize-Leroy, the queen of low yields, as low as 10-25 hl/ha depending on the vintage conditions.
Translated as ‘barn of fathers’ here is the introduction of Grange des Peres by the importer, Kermit Lynch:
Attaining cult wine status is not an easy feat, and certainly not when the odds are stacked against you. Laurent Vaillé has achieved what others thought impossible. Having spent his early career training under such masters as Jean-François Coche-Dury (Meursault), Gérard Chave (Hermitage), and Eloi Durrbach (Domaine Trévallon, Provence), he settled in the l’Hérault of the Languedoc and purchased his own land in 1989, near Aniane. In this area of the region, where the limestone is hard and abundant and the soil poor, no one thought he would ever have any success planting a vineyard on his plot of choice. Though it took dynamite and bulldozing to clear twice the amount of limestone, boulders, and glacial scree that is found in neighboring vineyards, he found a great terroir for his grapes. He did not have to look far to find ideal bud wood, either. He sourced his Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussane cuttings from Gérard Chave and his Cabernet from Domaine Trévallon. Laurent’s South-facing vines get very low yields, normally from twenty to twenty-five hectoliters per hectare. All are pruned in the gobelet style. The simultaneous restraint and power of his wines makes them ideal for aging. As for the skeptics, they are currently eating their words. His area of the Languedoc has since become known to produce some of the greatest wines in the region, with the new appellation of Terrasses du Larzac, of which he is technically part, reaping attention and praise. In his words, “Nature gave us a partition of land. It is up to us to interpret it.”

The Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon vines are situated in a Northerly aspect on limestone soil at 300 metres altitude, whilst the Mourvèdre faces due South on pierres roulées, like in Chateauneuf du Pape. Yields are kept down to a minimal 25 hl/ha thanks to bunch thinning and manual sorting of the grapes. He uses “reasoned” viticultural practices, keeping the use of chemicals to a bare minimum, cultivating the soil, removing leaves to let the generous sunlight into the canopy, and performing a green harvest where necessary.

The winemaking is traditional in style, each variety is vinified separately using natural yeasts and long maceration. The wines spend up to 24 months in barrel (1/3 new), but the oak is seamlessly integrated even upon release.

Laurent Vaillé had been a physiotherapist by trade, but he quit his job in the early 80s to pursue a career in winemaking. After studying viticulture and oenology, Laurent worked at a number of prestigious domaines (including JF Coche-Dury, JL Chave, and Domaine de Trevallon) before returning to his family home near Aniane. The Vaillé family already had some prime land just off the main road between Aniane and Gignac (bought by Laurent’s grandfather back in the 1950s) but much of it wasn’t planted with vineyards. Laurent set about planting vines on the existing land while supplementing it with a few more hectares and, by 1992, he was ready to release the first vintage of his wine.

Having young vines in an unheralded terroir is not exactly a recipe for success, but Vaillé was happy to follow the lead of his neighbor Aime Guibert (Mas de Daumas Gassac) by planting Cabernet Sauvignon and foregoing the local appellation (AOC Coteaux du Languedoc), instead making Vins de Pays de l’Hérault. Much of the confidence that Vaillé and Guibert shared was due to the sublime terroir on ‘Le Tourtou’, a high altitude hill-top with rocky limestone and clay soil. The legend of Daumas Gassac had been built on relatively low-yields from young vines on great terroir, so Laurent Vaillé took this model even further, slashing the yields to as low as 10-25 hl/ha depending on the vintage conditions.

1992 was an excellent start for Grange des Pères and although there were only 250 cases made, Laurent produced a dense, concentrated wine packed with flavor. Today’s Domaine de la Grange des Peres extends over approx 12ha and is a collection of parcels within a couple of miles radius from their non-descript ‘barn’.

These are very much wines that are ‘made in the vineyard’ and the viticultural philosophy is one of lutte raisonée (or reasoned struggle), although the methods are, in fact, almost entirely organic. Vaillé dismisses this (and other such labels) as marketing ploys, insisting that he ploughs the vineyards, uses minimal (if any) treatments and bottles and racks with the lunar cycle simply because it gets the best results. As Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate says: “This estate’s wines are terribly hard to locate in the United States, selling out instantly upon arrival on our shores. Nevertheless, it is important for The Wine Advocate to report on them as doing so may inspire young winemakers in the Languedoc to follow in the footsteps of Laurent Vaille, the dedicated, highly talented winemaker of Domaine La Grange des Pères.”
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