So many of the wines we love at Wine Friends are the product of personal journeys driven by passion and often exemplifying a leap of faith and a good dose of grit. It is beautiful experiencing through their wines, a producers deep connection with the land, forged through times great and hard as they define their own relationship to the vineyards they farm. What connects it all for me is their stories. They often remind me of the scary but exhilarating feeling I had when I left the shores of Britain to come live in the US 25 years ago. How different life would have been had I not taken that deep breath and stepped into the unknown.
Our two wines this week are from winemakers who took bold steps to pursue their dreams.
Remoortere Menetou-Salon Blanc 2019 ($28). Made by a courageous young winemaker who, rather than following the practices of his winemaking father, travelled around the world, as far as South Africa, to learn from top winemakers and explore other ways of doing things. He returned home to the Loire Valley, France, with a firm belief in the importance of organic and biodynamic farming. On a small 4-hectare plot of land on his family’s estate, he now creates wines that cause your senses to do a virtual dance. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc has delicate notes of passion fruit over an intriguing limestone minerality. Its purity of tone feels like someone placed a vibrating tuning fork on your tongue. It would be wonderful with scallops wrapped in pancetta, and pan fried in a tarragon lemon-butter sauce…YUM!
Domaine de l’Hortus Le Loup Dans La Bergerie 2019 ($14). A young trainee agronomist, Jean Orliac, spent his weekends climbing the rugged cliffs of Languedoc in France, a monolithic limestone landscape north of Montpellier. He saw something special in the fractured rock on the steep slopes and felt a deep connection. Giving up his teaching career and buying 50 hectares filled with woods and dense garrigue, seemed to be what his heart was calling for. It took 15 years of work until in 1990 Jean and his wife were able to make their first bottle of wine. This is a wonderful everyday drinking red made from some of their younger vines. Grenache and Syrah combine to produce a ridiculously good wine for the money. It has bright, energetic raspberries and plums with lovely acidity and a seductive length. Drink this with burgers, ribs, chicken wings and even salmon.
On the left: Jean and his family, who all work at the winery now
On the right: Jean's vineyards along Montagne L’Hortus