Saturday, 4th of June 2022
Together with our friend Gilles from Cocorico Wine we present a new wave in Roussillion’s winemaking.
Wilfried Valat – La Nouvelle Don(n)e and Vincent Lafage – Les Salicaires.
Stepping out of regional standard heavy reds with high alcohol overpowered by wood, they come with light, refreshing, elegant and with a touch of “Je ne sais quoi” wines.
Wilfried Valat - Domaine de la Nouvelle Don(n)e
Seeing Wilfried getting out of his massive and muddy Ford Ranger, I
instantly understand that it takes a solid rugbyman physique, a mind of
steel and a big heart to make wine here. Here, it’s the Col de la Dona in
Calce, one of France’s roughest and wildest vineyards. 300 days of
wind, a torrid climate, 25% slopes, little to no rain and hell a rugged terrain.
That’s the toll that Wilfried is willing to pay to benefit from the great
exposure and the many types of soils that the Têt and Agly Valleys have to
offer. Trust me, his schists and marnes have nothing to envy to the
grandiose Mosel Valley.
La Nouvelle Don(n)e – Nouvelle Vague Blanc 2021
name: Nouvelle Vague Blanc 2021
style: natural white wine
grape variety: 50% Macabeu & 50% blanc de noirs (Carignan Noir & Mourvèdre)
serving temperature: 10-12C
alcohol percentage: 12%
short tasting note: lemon peel, white flowers, local herbs and the laser sharp minerality
In 2007, he took on the challenge. To save, by himself, these 5 hectares of
abandoned old vines that no one had the balls (or the sanity) to save. It
takes a sip to get that his hard work paid off.
Having practised his skills in some of the best Burgundian estates in
Vosne-Romanée (Méo-Camuzet) and Givry (Joblot & Clos
Salomon), Wilfried makes a point to have elegant, glouable and fresh
wines that always come with a solid mineral backbone. His very unique
touch lies in many things.
In the vineyards, the northern exposure, strong winds and cold
nights (due to altitude 250 to 350m) allow him to have fresh and low
in alcohol wines. The long and warm sunny days combined with low
rainfall and low yield, in between 7 and 15 hl/ha, give the wine its
mind-boggling richness and depth.
On top of that the vines are surrounded by local flora, including wild
lavender, fennel, olive trees, gentian, hawthorne, oak and chestnut trees.
In the cellar, his geeky oak ageing skills enable him to get the best out of
the barriques or foudres. Burgundy-inspired, Wilfried’s wines are like these
books that you read over and over to spot new details.
It’s no surprise that these wines are generously poured in a 100
Michelin Stars restaurants in France.
Vincent Lafage - Domaine les Salicaires
Vincent is a rising star in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Light, delicate, joyful
and totally natural, his wines are at the antipodes of the region’s
standards which tend to be heavy, high in alcohol and seriously soporific.
The secret of his style lies in his genuine way to share emotions through his
wines. Besides the very technical part of winemaking, Vincent doesn’t
overthink his wines. Just like him, they are spontaneous, honest, full of
youth and are meant to spark a smile, a laugh, a connection as opposed
to fully fleshed tasting notes.
Of course, his land plays a key role as well. Vincent’s estate is fairly big but
among the 20 hectares of the family land, he pampers 2 small hectares
according to organic and biodynamic principles, including the use
of essential oil of sweet orange and herbal tea. The rest of his grapes
are sold to Patrick Bouju, Jean-Philippe Padié, to name a few.
Nested between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrénées, Les
Salicaires benefits from a clement weather, a fairly high altitude for the area
and of well drained soils that allow him to practice dry farming. Indeed,
Vincent’s plots are on a high Quaternary terrace, with rolled pebbles
on the surface resting on a clay-limestone base.
No wonder why Vincent’s wines seduce enthusiasts and connoisseurs in
Tokyo, Seoul and Copenhagen.