Cuvée 2002

Lundi 22 janvier 1 22 /01 /Jan 21:51

Bienvenue sur le site d'un vigneron irlandais dans l'Hérault. Mes vins sont élaborés selon les principes de l'agriculture biologique. Dégustations, visites et ventes sur rendez-vous.

Welcome to the site of an Irish wine-maker living in the Hérault. My wines are made according to the principles of organic farming. Tastings, visits to the vine and the cellar and sales by prior arrangement. Come and visit!

Par Charles Haskins - Publié dans : le-vin-bleu
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Mardi 29 mars 2 29 /03 /Mars 21:42

Le vigneron

Rien, sauf peut-être un amour de la terre hérité d’une longue histoire familiale, ne destinait un irlandais, fils et petit-fils d’éleveurs de vaches, né sous les brumes de l’île verte, à devenir un jour vigneron dans le Midi de la France.

Les collines plantées de vieux cépages qu’il rencontre lors d’un voyage de jeunesse en Toscane, leurs petites terrasses de schiste et de calcaire au milieu des châtaigneraies et la dégustation d’un Brunello di Montalcino, fruit de ces paysages, lui laissent un goût inoubliable.
Un détour par la France sur le chemin du retour qui se prolonge pour devenir définitif et une première expérience au contact du vin.
Des vendanges aux premiers travaux de cave en Provence, il travaille aussi dans un bar à vin, à l’exportation de vin vers l’Irlande puis devient stagiaire chez le caviste Jean-Christophe Estève à Paris.

Un jour, pas loin de ses 40 ans, ce producteur de films documentaires décide de vivre son rêve et de partir en quête de son endroit. Il trouve aux pieds des Cévennes un paysage encore empreint par la rudesse des montagnes que les châtaigneraies viennent adoucir. Le climat méditerranéen y est doux, les vignes épousent le flanc des coteaux et les cerisiers inondent la vallée.

L’accueil des habitants est chaleureux. Ils partagent leur expérience et leur savoir avec le débutant.

En 2001, avec cinq hectares de vignes, le travail de culture peut enfin commencer et en 2002, la première récolte est vinifiée à la cave.

En septembre 2003, le premier vin est mis en bouteille.

Les vignes

Les vignes se trouvent dans la haute vallée de l’Orb, entre Mons la Trivalle et Olargues, dans le département de l’Hérault, en Languedoc.

Il s’agit de 5 hectares orientés sud et sud-ouest, principalement plantés en Carignan, avec deux parcelles de Cinsault et de Grenache. Les sols sont schisteux et calcaires, en terrasse ou en forte pente, rendant toute mécanisation impossible. L’âge moyen des souches est de 40 ans, les vignes sont plantées à une densité de 4400 souches par hectare, formées en gobelet, la forme traditionnelle du Languedoc qui assure un ensoleillement maximal du feuillage, une surface foliaire idéale pour une bonne maturation du raisin. Les traitements sont limités au strict minimum. Des vendanges en vert ainsi qu’une taille sévère en hiver permettent de limiter les rendements et d’augmenter la qualité de la production.

La récolte est cueillie à la main. Depuis 2003, les raisins sont égrappés avant d’être mis dans les cuves ouvertes, qui permettent des pigeages réguliers pendant la fermentation, complétés par des remontages. Des macérations de 4 semaines sont la règle. Un vieux pressoir vertical permet un pressurage en douceur sans trop extraire les tanins durs.

Les vins sont mis en bouteille après un élevage d’un an en cuve avec les soutirages nécessaires. L’Oeillade bénéficie d’un élevage en barrique de plusieurs vins.

Les vins sont collés au blanc d’œuf - pas filtrés à la mise.

Ils reflètent le paysage où ils sont nés, parfois un peu rudes dans leur prime jeunesse, mais généreux après quelque temps en cave - ou simplement après un carafage.

Le Vin Bleu

Autrefois, le Carignan, l’un des cépages traditionnels du Languedoc, s’appelait le cépage bleu ». Ce premier vin d’un nouveau vigneron s’appelle le « Vin Bleu ».

Il se décline en deux cuvées :

Le Vin Bleu - Oeillade 2002 (étiquette verte): Vin issu de 100% de Cinsault, raisins non égrappés, vinifiés avec des levures indigènes, élevé en barriques de plusieurs vins pendant un an. Peu soufré et pas filtré.

Un vin fruité et léger, qui accompagne à merveille la cuisine d’été et les plats de charcuterie.

Le Vin Bleu - Carignan 2002 (étiquette rouge) : Vin issu de raisins de vieux Carignan à faible rendement (30 hl/ha), vendangé à la main et trié à la cave. Non égrappé, vinifié avec pigeages et longue macération. Elevé en cuve pendant un an avec un minimum de soufre. Mise en bouteille à la cave en septembre 2003.

Ce vin possède une couleur profonde, un nez de garrigue et d’épice. Sa une belle structure tannique en bouche souligne son aptitude à la garde. Dans sa jeunesse, un passage en carafe va l’aider à mieux déployer la richesse de ses arômes.

A servir à 16 °C pour accompagner des grillades de viande rouge ou des plats en sauce ainsi que des fromages à pâte cuite.

Tarifs (départ cave)

Vin bleu - Carignan € 6.00/Btl. / TTC

Vin bleu - Oeillade - Épuisé

Pour livraison et conditions de transport me contacter

Charles Haskins

+33 (0)679 02 14 62

Email

Par Charles Haskins - Publié dans : le-vin-bleu
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Dimanche 27 mars 7 27 /03 /Mars 21:43

An Irish wine-maker in France

How did a former dairy farmer from Wicklow end up making wine in the South of France ?

My interest in wine and wine-making got off to an inauspicious start when I did the vendanges, or grape-harvest in Burgundy as a teenager. Dressed in a tee-shirt, shorts and gymshoes, I was poorly equipped for some of the worst weather they’d had since the war. Hail and heavy rain for days on end. I was soaked, frozen, over-exploited, under-fed and thoroughly miserable. Milking cows in the rain was better than this.

I remember coming away from the experience thinking that it was better to concentrate on drinking the stuff rather than to enquire too deeply into how it was made. Which is what I did for years - drinking industrial quantities of low quality wine, quite often the product-of-more-than-one-European-country...

A passion for wine

That is until I went to live in Tuscany where, amidst the ancient chestnut woods on the terraced slopes of Monte Amiata, forty kilometres south of Siena, I tasted my first really great wine, a Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello is a deep, dark, tannic wine not unlike a Pomerol, it was " invented’ " by the Biondi Santi family who were convinced that the Sangiovese grape variety could offer more if it were aged in oak barrels and sold after 3 years in the bottle. Today it is one of the finest and most expensive of Italian wines.

After eighteen months, I left Tuscany and went to live in France. Once there, my enthusiasm for wine, kindled by the passion of the Italian wine-makers I had met, led to my getting involved in as many aspects of the wine business as I could.

At the Commanderie de la Bargemone, near Aix-en-Provence, I worked in the vines and learnt the rudiments of vinification from Jean-Pierre Rozan. I then went to the fascinating and astonishingly knowledgable Parisian wine-merchant Jean-Christophe Estève, exporting French wine to the UK and Ireland. Then, very briefly, to the L’Ecluse chain of up-market wine-bars where I proved myself to be an aimable but hopelessly inefficient wine-waiter. Eventually, in the absence of a proper job in the industry I reverted to my former career as a journalist and then went to work in French television as a producer..

Finding the vineyard

On the eve of my fortieth birthday I did what any self-respecting clapped-out media hack does and went off to the South of France in search of the good life. In my case, it was in order to try and find an area that resembled southern Tuscany where I could buy a vineyard and make my wine before I got too broken down to live out my dream.

With Tuscany on my mind and the idea of living in a chestnut wood and working vines on narrow terraces, I headed for the Cevennes, in the Lozère. Plenty of chesnut woods there, but not many vines in the beautiful narrow valleys. I went further south, with the half-baked notion that I would eventually come upon a place where the chestnut trees end and the wine-producing plain of the Languedoc would begin. In the Haute Vallée de l’Orb, between Bédarieux and Olargues, fifty kilometres north of Béziers, I found what I was looking for.

I was able to buy vines on the terraced slopes of the Caroux, the mountain which dominates the valley and constitutes the tail-end of the Cevennes. The soil is the same as in Tuscany, an unusual mixture of schist and limestone. The climate is similar too, hot and Mediterranean, but cooler than the plain to the south because of the altitude, 250 meters above sea-level.

Carignan

The grape variety here is predominantly Carignan, one of the traditional Languedoc cépages along with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Like the Sangiovese, Carignan was widely looked down upon as a variety only good for producing low-grade quantity and one which lacked the finesse to make a really exceptional wine. This attitude is changing, pace Jancis Robinson, and now Carignan has an increasingly large following of fervent afficianados. I set about tasting as many 100% Carignan wines as I could get my hands on. There weren’t many, but among others, Jean_Marie Rimbert’s Mas aux Schiste (geddit ?) convinced me that one could make a very respectable wine by reducing yields and paying close attention to the vinification.

Getting started

I was lucky to find pretty well the only wine cellar in the valley which hadn’t been turned into a holiday home for Belgian tourists. In January 2001, I had bought my equipment, and was ready to make my first wine.

My first task was to embark on some pretty draconian pruning. My vines are vieux Carignan, between forty to fifty years old. They were being cultivated to produce as many grapes as possible for sale to the local cooperative – yields of up to 150 hectolitres (15,000 litres) a hectare are not uncommon. My target was to reduce yields to somewhere around 25-30 hecto per hectare. The vines are planted to a density of 4400 per hectare, pruned in gobelet, the traditional shape of vines in the Languedoc, which ensures that the leaves get the maximum amount of sunlight and which encourages early ripening of the grapes before the arrival of the autumn rains in early October.

Beginner’s luck

It was a perfect year. A mild Spring with just the right amount of rainfall was followed by a hot Summer. As I have decided to make a wine which is produced according to the principles or organic farming, I spray with rather ineffectual organic sprays which are harmless to the environment, the sprayer and the consumer, but they don’t do much damage to diseases either, blight and mildew being the two principal enemies. That year it was too hot for either to get a grip in the vines which was just as well as my spraying in that first year was as haphazard as my wine-waiting had been.

The vendanges, contrary to my earlier experience, took place in perfect weather conditions, warm and sunny during the day, coolish at night. The pickers had all worked on the same vines in previous years and knew them much better than I did. The complicated logistics of picking and bringing the grapes to the cellar went without a hitch and this was entirely due to their experience - and their patience with the new-comer.

Making the wine

I opted for the traditional – and simplest - form of vinification. The grapes, picked by hand and emptied into plastic containers (comportes) holding 50 kilos each, were brought to the cellar and put directly into a 3000 litre vat, without de-stalking. Care was taken that only the absolutely ripest grapes were selected and foreign bodies like leaves and branches were scrupulous sorted and discarded. It was a clean harvest, potential alcohol levels were high (nearly 13°) and volatility was exceptionally low. I stuck to my plan of adding minimal amounts of sulphur, which is used to ward off bacteria but which is also responsible for the pain in your head if you drink as much as I do...

The decision not to use sulphur or artificial yeasts or tannins which are commonly employed by the vast majority of commercial wine-makers, brought me into conflict with my oenologist, a brassy, ambitious young woman with a strong belief in chemicals, a too-pristine four-wheel drive and no sympathy for natural wines. I studiously ignored her advice and we parted company half way through the year, amicably but at loggerheads.

After a long maceration, nearly six weeks, in which the skins, flesh and pips of the grapes are kept in contact with the fermenting juice, I fiddled around with it as little as possible. I pressed the skins in my old-fashioned vertical press and kept the vin de presse seperate until just before bottling. Throughout the year I drew off the wine from time to time, to ‘air’ it and to get rid of the deposit which accumulates at the bottom of the vat.

After nearly a year in the vat, I bottled the wine in August 2003, clarified with egg-white and unfiltered. Leaving the wine to ‘settle’ I began to sell it in Spring 2004, much to the disgust and increasing indignation of my bank manager.

Sales

The wine is currently distributed in Holland, Belgium and Northern Ireland. I make regular deliveries to customers in Paris.

I attend local markets in Olargues, Lamalou les Bains, St Pons and Bédarieux, where I am absolutely merciless in collaring anyone I hear speaking English, or French with a Welsh accent. These people are overwhelmed with a battery of half-truths and exaggerations until they go staggering back to their car with a case under each arm.

Why Vin Bleu ?

Vin Bleu is a reference to an 19th century name for Carignan, ‘le cépage bleu’. In French, un bleu is a beginner, someone who is wet behind the ears, or ‘green’ in English. For my first wine it seemed appropriate...

Vin Bleu is a reference to an 19 century name for Carignan, ‘. In French, un is a beginner, someone who is wet behind the ears, or ‘green’ in English. For my first wine it seemed appropriate...

The label, designed to reflect the organic and rather unorthodox style of the wine, represents a stylised bunch of grapes and was designed by a Belgian artist, Els Knockert.

Vin Bleu - Carignan 2002:

12.75° alc.

Deep ruby red, with aromas of garrigue (thyme, rosemary) and spices. An attractive tannic structure indicates its capacity for laying down. Pleasing balance between fruit and alcohol which is accentuated when served in a carafe.

Serving temperature 16°C, to accompany grilled or roast meat, stews and ‘hard’ cheeses.

Price

(ex cellar)

Vin bleu - Carignan

€ 6.-- / Btl. / TTC

Please contact me for delivery and transport conditions.

Further details on request.

 

Charles Haskins

Tel : + 33 (0) 679 02 14 62

Email

Par Charles Haskins - Publié dans : le-vin-bleu
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