Monday, July 2, 2012

Pure Chardonnay from Limoux

Pierre and Marie-Claire Fort are close friends of the late Didier Dagueneau. Pierre also makes wine in the Loire, at Château de Tracy in Pouilly-sur-Loire. When he's not in the Loire, Pierre is busy making wine in his native village in Limoux, which is known for its sparkling wines.

The Forts took control of a prized 35-year-old vineyard above their village of Roquetaillade. Situated at an altitude of 480 meters, this vineyard came to them through Pierre's family and, ironically, Pierre had helped plant the vineyard when he was in his early teens while studying winemaking.

The Forts' goal is to live the true, enlightened peasant lifestyle. One where time is regulated by nature and technique and execution are the thoughtful response to observation. They are in the process of restoring an ancient farmhouse in this stone village that will become the soul of their winery.

Several years ago, Michael Sullivan, Dagueneau's friend and US importer, received an unmarked sample of the Forts' wine from Dagueneau. Dagueneau simply asked him to taste it and to give it his honest opinion. Michael narrates his introduction to the Limoux wine:"The wine turned out to be splendid, a very pure, minerally expression of Chardonnay that reminded us of one of the chalkier sights in Burgundy (think St. Romain or Chablis). When speaking with Didier shortly thereafter, he informed me that it was from his friend Pierre in Limoux, 2003 vintage! Would we go and visit him when in France? Absolutely! After visiting the sight, walking the vineyards and tasting the 2004 from barrel, we were smitten. A finished bottle of the same wine sealed the deal (especially after tasting it on our burgundian friends blind)."

Mind you, Michael imports Dominique Lafon and de Montille among others.

There is almost no still Limoux sold outside of the region, and these people are making exclusively that. They farm organically and manually harvest 100% Chardonnay from clay and limestone chalk vineyards. Fermentation and elevage are done in large puncheons (450-600 liters). Lees stirring is done occasionally. The wine, in large part, was already made in the vineyard, and since not one blemished grape makes it into the press the Forts know that their hard work is over for the season.

You will pay less than $20 for this spectacular 2008 Domaine Mouscaillo Limoux Chardonnay that rivals more expensive fine white Burgundy.

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