Former Lafite winemaker turns to Bourboulenc. What’s that?!

on 26/05/11 at 5:40 pm

Wine

Eric Fabre, ex-technical director at Château Lafite, was initially drawn to the Languedoc to grow his great love Mourvèdre but quickly discovered that the area in which he bought his new estate, Château d’Anglès, was ideal for Bourboulenc as well.

Fabre bought his new property in the sub-region of La Clape in 2002. Subsequently, it has been named as one of nine grand crus in the Languedoc being put forward for approval by the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc (CIVL).

As Fabre’s son Vianney explained, this made them “very pleased as it means we made the right choice 10 years ago. We always thought La Clape was special.”

Although production of Mourvèdre was always the main goal, La Clape is also the one place in Europe and very probably the world where Bourboulenc is cultivated in any quantity.

Three hundred and fifty hectares of the 500ha of Bourboulenc vineyards worldwide are grown in La Clape and when the CIVL awarded it grand cru status three years ago the producers asked that one of the stipulations be that any white wine must have a base of at least 40% Bourboulenc.

Furthermore, Vianney told the drinks business that Mourvèdre is, at times, a bit of a “nightmare to harvest”, as it has a propensity to rot and even in the bottle it takes time to soften and usually requires some “fine tuning with Syrah”.

Bourboulenc by contrast is, according to Vianney, perfectly adapted to the area. One of its cousins was first planted by the Romans during Caesar’s conquest of 58-51 BC.

It has a long cycle but its thick skin usually protects it from rot. Vianney explained his father’s way of working: “Producers often harvest too early as they’re afraid of rot but its skin is so thick that hardly ever happens.

“In fact, it gets fresher the longer you wait and the skins get thinner. La Clape has a lot of underground waterways that allow us a long hang-time.”

Production is limited though and rests at only 60,000 bottles. The focus in the UK is on the on-trade and Vianney told db that he had had very positive feedback from sommeliers who had said it would be “very easy to work with”.

A detailed look at the proposed new Languedoc classification will appear in the June edition of the drinks business.

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