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Paths of Resistance in the French Pyrenees

As it appears in ISSUE 05 of THE WINE ZINE 

Eighty years after my great aunt fled Nazi Germany, I found myself retracing her footsteps in the French Pyrenees. As part of an underground network in the International Resistance, she was on a wanted list which meant she was constantly moving from place to place. Returning to her last locale, the tiny town of Banyuls-sur-mer, was a surreal synthesis of family, history, wine and sense of place. The months I spent where she lived, working in the vineyards she crossed, reading her memoirs recounting forged identity papers, food stamps, the help of numerous people including the wine community, smuggling hundreds of refugees over the mountains before saving herself, inspired in me nothing short of reverence. I realized that it’s in human nature to simultaneously create laws and circumnavigate them, so in essence if a law exists so does its manipulation, and nature gives weight to improvisation. This mountainous frontier acts less as a border and more as a sentient consonance. We impose arbitrary boundaries that are meaningless against the strength of the natural world. 

In the case of my great aunt, a natural mountain barrier actually helped her smuggle people across unnoticed. They could not be easily regulated because the boundaries were symbolic in an otherwise rough and wild landscape. The most crucial area of her route was shimmying along a naturally inlaid cliff with garrigue and rock hiding her from view. “I must explain why this route was so secure. After the ascent through the green hills that sloped gently down to the sea, our path ran parallel to a well-known official road that led along the mountain ridge and was easily negotiable. Our route ran below the road and was concealed by the mountain overhang, so that it couldn’t be seen by the French border sentries who patrolled above.” At a certain point she stood with one foot in France and the other in Spain, disintegrating the divide completely. She could see centuries old villages, farms and vineyards surrounding the mountains on both sides, merging one country’s end and another’s beginning, unifying trade, life and community within greater Catalonia; two countries, one people.


Banyuls-sur-Mer is a small port town along the base of the Pyrenees at the southwestern edge of Roussillon, France. Basking topless towards the Mediterranean and bordered by the beginnings of the Pyrenees which divide France and Spain, this last part of the French coast is known as the Côte Vermeille, which is also considered part of Catalonia. While there is some conflict over this matter (sometimes the French still claim it as Occitane), indisputably most locals are neither necessarily French nor Spanish, they are Catalan and have been for many generations. You notice it in the little things: the use of saffron and pimentón, the accent, when ordering pain au chocolat (it’s chocolatine or you don’t get one), dancing in the main square facing the sea where old ladies in skirt suits clap and twist their hips. There is a vivid resistance to be anything but what this place represents: the freedom to be in-between.

Winemaking in this region dates back over a thousand years, to when this was a port of ancient Greece. It became known as the Smuggler’s Republic by Louis XIV, as Banyuls fishermen transported wine, salt, tobacco, sugar, rice and skins with almost total impunity, they hid large amounts of stock within the cavernous cliff rock. By the time of the second World War, Banyuls was known for their AOC Vin Doux Naturel. This is in part because the area is hot and arid, which can quickly overripen grapes that already possess high natural sugar content (for the AOC this means mainly Carignan, Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc). While production did become more systematic and regimented over time, it’s important to understand the impossibility of this area becoming a commercialized, high output zone of industry. In addition to the Banyulenc mentality, the land is truly unforgiving: immense layers of gray and black schist shoot up from the sea becoming relentlessly steep slopes building towards the Pyrenees, speckled with granite and quartz on which only the most strong-willed plants can survive.

Broadly known as garrigue for rough shrubbery near the Mediterranean, here especially you’ll find wild fennel, euphorbia, prickly pear, cistus, rosemary, lavender and thyme, to name a few. This landscape endures direct, scorching sun for long hours the majority of the year as well as the tramontane which can knock you off your feet. To make wine in this area, one cannot be passive: it takes a determined, well-weathered, intuitive and most of all stubborn personality. Unlike “domesticated” regions like Burgundy, you can’t fight nature here—it commands respect. It’s only fitting that the movement back to natural wine would find a home in Banyuls. 


Winemaker Alain Castex arrived in the early 90s and was one of the first to create a natural wine from soil to bottle without care of AOC regulations: nothing added and nothing taken away. I had the chance to visit him in January 2017. He taught me how to faire la tailleand explained his garagiste style (and unlike the many small natural winemakers being called garagistes these days, Alain actually makes wine in a garage). Thoughtful with the air of a magician in his incredible sense of balance in wine and cooking, he lowkey has incredible taste. Case in point: one night he effortlessly put together a dinner of oysters, petit Catalan saucisson, and a dish of whipped carrots, sweet potatoes and sausage that was inexplicably delicious, alongside a bottle of Jacques Lassaigne Montgueux Blanc des Blanc Extra Brut and his white and red cuvees from that year.

The community in Banyuls continues to grow and support one another through an ongoing exchange of ideas, many spurred by Castex himself. There are now more than a dozen vignerons finding a balance between showing both the terroir and their individual character. Les 9 Caves has become a hub for this exchange as part wine cellar, restaurant, wine shop and hotel supporting the growth of natural winemaking in the area. Behind the restaurant you will find nine wine caves of Bruno Duchene, Pedres Blanques, Cave des Nomades, Vinyer de la Ruca, and Domaine Carterole, to name a few. It’s not uncommon to gather and taste other’s wines at the long table in the back of the restaurant, then inevitably someone brings a few snacks and before you know it you’re well into the evening. 

How does a tiny seaside village have such conviction, such resilience? What makes a community, what creates a perspective like that? When you look at a mountain, do you see an end or a beginning? Can you ride the waves or will you get sucked under? In a place like Banyuls, you get the feeling there’s a Zarathustra in everyone: Upon your own head, and beyond your own heart! Now must the gentlest in you become the hardest. The combined energetic force of sea and mountains has a palpable effect on anyone, especially if you live there.

Ancient cultures around the globe considered mountains places of high cosmic connection and transcendence. The mountain as the immovable force, the heart of creation, the navel of the earth. Zoroastrian ritual included drinking fortified wine facilitating spirit travel to the invisible world. Times change, but the inclination remains.


In 1940, my great aunt, Lisa Fittko, escaped a detention camp in Gurs, at the foot of the Pyrenees. She fled to Marseille with the intention of getting a visa to escape Europe, but it proved more complicated than expected.  After reuniting with her husband Hans, they ended up in Banyuls  for nearly nine months, leading other refugees over the border with the help of the town’s socialist Mayor, Vincent Azéma, and the local community, including the winemakers. She was given only a hand drawn sketch of an old smuggler’s route and a few verbal guidelines which she used to find her way. Eventually this would be called the “F Route” in honor of her surname, which is an incredible sentier although barely marked and still fairly treacherous.

Her first ascent was with Walter Benjamin, a German Jewish intellectual of the Frankfurt School, a cultural critic and philosopher with mystical leanings. Benjamin was a radical thinker who has since become somewhat of an iconic figure with lots of mystery surrounding his work and death. When Lisa left him at the Spanish Border, he descended into Portbou as he was supposed to, but committed suicide that night. This was thought to be because he believed he would get caught by the authorities despite his escape. It was a loss that made Lisa only more resolute.

At that time, the winemakers of Banyuls were mainly Catalan and helped Lisa stay hidden during the first part of the route through the vineyards. The group of refugees would leave early, before sunrise, with the vineyard crew climbing the steep, terraced vines disguised as workers wearing espadrilles, carrying a cabec and banaste. In her memoir she recalls, “Among themselves they speak Catalan, and now and then we understand a word. With us they speak French, as they do with all étrangers. It’s a good thing for us that everyone who doesn’t belong here is called an étranger, whether a Frenchman from another area or an apatride.” It’s not that the Catalans accepted her as one of their own—they accepted her as someone else. Well accustomed to maneuvering between countries, they have been fighting for their own independence for centuries, living amongst the Spanish and the French while remaining firm in their traditions. They are the original keepers of the Pyrenees.

As Lisa became familiar with everyone, she began to feel like she was from the village. People had each other’s backs, smuggling supplies and vouching for those who were interrogated by gendarmes. Not only did her sense of purpose increase, so did her affection for Banyuls.

To successfully navigate the land and work with the Banyulencs, she had to embrace the strength of ambiguity and intuit the greater picture, a way of being that invigorated her expeditions. 

“We clambered through and between the vines which were heavy with dark, sweet, near-ripe Banyuls grapes. I think it was an almost vertical incline…the vignerons know us now and sometimes in conversation one will mention in passing what the best way to the border is, and where one shouldn’t go… [Mayor] Azéma’s data about distances and times were elastic, as is often the case with mountain dwellers. How long a time is ‘a few hours’?”

Escape Through the Pyrenees by Lisa Fittko

It’s true, time doesn’t have the same meaning here; it’s less of a measure and more of a feeling. The mountains and the sea test your understanding of things, of what you’re capable of, maybe even more on a psychological level. You see the cliff drop and the jutting rock that split your path and your instincts tell you it’s dangerous, you can’t do it, but you can. It’s not the void of cavernous dips echoing a bridge to the next mountain, it’s the feeling that gravity is all around you, the weight of an invisible ocean ready to take you with one false step. But by pushing through your imagined physical limits, you relieve the internal ones, and you finally understand the meaning of balance. 

Living on a border is living in a place of undeniable possibility, of heightened perception which connects not divides. Throughout history mountains have been recognized as concentrated energetic zones where the sacred manifests, offering illuminations in varying forms. We are reminded that we are part of something greater than ourselves. A mountain is both sides, the one you’re on and the one you don’t see. It is the sum of its parts, dividing and unifying; a contradiction ruled by natural law, above the will of governments. While many borders act as a hostile political division, there’s always the undertone of rare fertile ground for true collaboration, understanding and acceptance. Resistance is one of nature’s most successful propellers but we struggle to understand what that really means. There’s a hierarchy, but not the one humans create. Even we, as the mountain, yield to the greater forces of the cosmos. 

Losing to Win

It wasn’t long after the pandemic took hold that life started to drastically shift. As a nation we watched incredulously as China, followed by Italy were smeared by COVID-19 cases, warning us of the inevitable, yet we remained steadfast in denial. We were the audience of the Lumiere brother’s first motion picture, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, except nobody imagined the train was real. For a country enthralled with entertainment, this would have been a good time to let ourselves be swept away. But our suspended disbelief wasn’t in our favour, and we took the hit hard.

New York was the first epicentre for the virus in the US. I was working in wholesale wine import and distribution, for a small company based in Manhattan. My account base was 90% on premise fine dining restaurants- in other words, I lost nearly all of my business. It trickled out, to be sure, but I saw the end coming and realised I needed to start making plans. By the time the company let me go, I wasn’t surprised- in fact since it was commissioned work I was only regretful I hadn’t been on unemployment sooner. Earlier in the year, the government had approved a $600/week additional PUI under the CARES Act, an unprecedented approach for the US. But it ended shortly after I was enrolled and I started to worry how I would cover my rent.

There was nothing to do. I lost my job, there were no prospects, and life was unaffordable. Just as I was getting approved for Medicaid, a friend of mine told me about an opportunity to work the wine harvest in Burgundy. Normally this was an exclusive arrangement between approved Michelin restaurant wine directors, sommeliers and a private French export company. I was neither a somm nor had I worked with this company. But given the circumstances, most Americans were no longer able to travel abroad without specific justification. Having dual citizenship at this moment became my golden ticket. I had never really used my other passport- it was a reminder of my inner conflict about family and loss. But ten years working in the wine trade and I hadn’t worked a harvest or been to Burgundy. This was my chance. Without really knowing what I was getting into or for how long, I booked a flight to Paris.

Day One

I arrived in France with a carry-on suitcase. The first thing I did was eat a croissant. The second thing was get tested (at CDG, for free). There is nothing more dissimilar than talking about the harvest season and working a harvest. On the very first day, I snipped the tip of my ring finger clean to the bone. I was trying to keep up and I didn’t know what I was doing. I tried to ignore it by wrapping vine leaves around, but determined it was pretty bad when the bleeding seeped through almost instantly. I ran down to the base of the row where the vigneron himself was monitoring our progress and showed him the blood. “C’est pas possible!” and he turned and walked in the opposite direction. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, especially creating an impression as the white American girl who gets injured the first day of work. But the vigneron’s daughter fixed me up with an assortment of disinfectant, sterile pads and bandaids from the van, telling me “Ca va aller, ça arrive à tous”. By her swift bandaging I could tell this was a common occurence.

Out the door and in the vineyard picking grapes by 6:00am. It was already getting chilly in the vineyards and sometimes at daybreak the dew was partially frozen. But the beauty of waking up with the sunrise, feeling it warm your face as you move between rows of vines, quickly became my favourite part of the day. In exchange for room and board, I worked nearly 12 hour days in the Cote de Beaune: premier cru vineyards of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny as well as Volnay and Santenay. There were a few days in Gevrey-Chambertin too. Some of the parcels were a 16th of a hectare while others nearly a whole. I tasted the grape ripeness, their variation from parcel to parcel, measuring density, quality, soil, exposure.

Burgundy, I realised, is an industry. After all, the hype of terroir, regional history, the distinguished character of each Domaine… is all very French, and has become very American too, in the world of haute commerce. This is not to downplay the efforts or quality of the region, but as someone whose interest had been sourcing wild, minimal intervention produce, this region is very domesticated. The land itself is gentle rolling hills with many long, flat stretches of vineyards. I quickly learned these flat stretches make it extra difficult on your back as you reach downward, about mid-thigh height for grape clusters sandwiched between dense leave clusters. It’s much easier to pick at an angle. You find creative ways to angulate your body, whose alternative negative effects suggest the proper way to save your back remains to be seen. The most successful method was taught to me by a Belgian scientist in his 50’s who despite being retired, enjoyed doing the harvest as a yearly ritual. He showed me that wearing kneepads and then kneeling with one leg forward and the other behind keeps your lower back out of the equation. That advice saved me from what would have surely been a dislocated disc.

The Power of the Human Heart

The harvest team consisted of a group of hired hands from multiple regions and countries. Especially places like Burgundy where time is of the essence and there’s a lot of ground to cover, the groups can be pretty large and are generally cheap labour from elsewhere. The family members usually head the teams and oversee that the bunches are picked properly and nothing is missed. There are designated “pannier”, interchangeable word for the person who carries an oversized basket over on their back, walking down the row periodically to collect the pickings from your small bucket. Our group was a mix of Sudanese immigrants, hippies from Ardeche, Italian backpackers, high school kids from Beaune, some local families, and a few old men who adored the harvest so much they’d been doing it over 40 years (a Spaniard and the Belgian).

Most days were spent listening and asking questions, as we moved in tandem through the vineyard. Far from the demonstrative nature of city life, it was refreshing to be around so many readily genuine people. Despite what anyone was going through (being an illegal immigrant, homeless, poor, without family) everyone was filled with strength and found any excuse to share joy. Our group became a community who looked after each other and shared in the waves of the work. This carried with me, and I didn’t feel so alone.

Unlocking the Past

A little over a month later, I left Burgundy for a tiny seaside village in the south of France, Banyuls-sur-Mer, for the next phase of this improvised expedition. I harvested grapes on infamously steep slopes on completely wild vineyards. I met and worked with an entire community of completely natural winemakers, which means their practices involve the least amount of intervention necessary at every step in the process, from soil to bottle. But perhaps more importantly, I found myself retracing my family’s history of resistance and escape through France during WWII. To my complete surprise, many villagers knew the story of my great aunt, her role in the local resistance, and her perilous path through the Pyrenees. The path exists to this day and is called the “F Route” in her name, Lisa Fittko. Retracing her footsteps, hiking the route and hearing stories from people who knew her, took this expedition to the next level, which you can read about here.

Early morning on a vineyard in Banyuls-sur-Mer

Homeopathy and holistic living were part of my childhood experience. I felt at home in the forest, with a wild garden surrounding the house and a wood fire as the central heating system. There was a lot of work to be done, so it was easier to understand how to exist with nature’s unpredictability rather than fight it. Animals were great teachers, in my case mainly cats, horses and wildlife. I studied them continuously and tried to mimic their awareness of their surroundings. My mother understood how to let me discover a lot for myself, but was always there to answer questions. In Banyuls I met a woman who helped her 70 year old husband recover from COVID holistically, namely with essential oil of Ravintsara. I had so many questions. We spent the afternoon discussing different plants, oils, and home rituals. It was both so familiar yet strange that she had dedicated her time to research alternative healing methods. Minimal intervention, whether it be in agriculture, nutrition or psychology is supposed to be reserved for hippies, right? While I’m kidding, a lot of people are not. But the longer I spend in countries like France and Germany I see it’s not such a fringe concept. Natural wine was a passion of mine to which I dedicated the last ten years of my professional life. It has since become a fashionable sociopolitical statement, which is great, although increasingly it’s missing the mark. Recently there were revelations of harvest worker exploitation in Puglia, uncovering the disputed action/inaction of Valentina Passalacqua, ending her distribution almost entirely. What it shed light on was a far greater issue: the natural wine world isn’t as holistic as it thinks it is. There’s a lot to be done to amalgamate idea and action.

Go In to Go Out

Last year helped me see things as they are and appreciate them for exactly that; letting go of things that were beyond control, replacing those urges with an inexplicable lightness, considering the omniscient ever-possible consequences of travel and human interaction which serve as a reminder to be grateful for what we have within us. Things are just things. Learning to live outside of the framework of a job, a place to call home, or someone you’re close to shifts the focus to cultivating a new kind of resourcefulness.

© 2021 terroirisms

Stephane Tissot (Arbois, Jura)


CALCAIRE/LIMESTONE: more mineral, lighter body, Jurassic (1st/top layer) fossilized, air. Trousseau and some Chardonnay grow here. Roots can go very deep.

MARL: “The Rock Mother” of clay, Lias (2nd layer) still water, stagnant. Citrus, high driven acidity, salinic wines.

ARGILE/BLACK CLAY: fruity, spicy, big, reductive, needs more time to open up, Trias (3rd layer of Jura soil) Poulsard and Savagnin grow here. Less deep roots, more complications with mildew and drainage, less productive, more difficulty absorbing nutrients

=====> Pressure created shifting in plates, pushed up hills in Jura, offering access to Lias and Trias soil beds

Michel Gros Lunar Calendar 2017

View from LA TOUR CURON parcel

Clos St. Roque: 90+ year old vines, oldest in the Jura

Les Graviers:  7-11 parcels Chardonnay

Les Bruyeres: black clay vines planted 1960s Poulsard & Savagnin

Vin Jaune: clay soil

Marcottes:planting branches on wire???

Montigny: Trousseau/Chardonnay

Gewurtztraminer is the cousin of Savagnin

Likes reduction in red, not white “La vie est belle”!!

waning moon better for fining, barreling

waxing moon ??

*storage of corks in WARM environment

CELLAR STORAGE TEMP: 60-40% warm/cool cellar: 26 degree for warm, 16 degree for cool cellar


  1. steel tank (savagnin & cremant)
  2. amphora
  3. foudre

+ Open top: Pinot Noir full bunches, de stem by hand on grate

Are the grapes destemmed or not? this is the most important question when tasting. Stems must be ripe to not extract bitterness.

alchohol & acidity Savagnin in clay

“punchdown & pumpovers is teenage masturbation, a useful mistake to abuse”

“my cellar is my playground”

CREMANT: Chardonnay & Savagnin, 85% Selection Massale, higher density => higher sugar [density @ temp on date) sticky note format. starter for Cremant? vin de paille + grape juice + yeast. Less atmospheric pressure is better for yeast. riddling by hand. 8 months

*more yeasts => more complexity

PATCHWORK: 60-40% blend, younger more productive vines fermented in wood, 10% new, adds spice

ROSE MASSALE: pink chardonnay, quick press (blend), clay & limestone, aromatic & delicate but structured with spice & tannin

LES GRAVIERS: limestone, 1 yr barrique, single vineyard, lots of indigenous yeast, small amt sulphur 14.5%, freshness in acidity, mineral

SOURSIS: Lias clay, vines “on parole”, if they stop producing he will uproot for Savagnin and make a Cotes du Jura in Chateau Chalon. Citrus, high driven acidity, salinity, added some sulphur in past to reduce brett (1.2g)

LE CLOS DE LA TOUR CURON: old barrel/new barrel blend, “blends should always be the best cuvee, if you choose to do them”, Chardonnay Grand Cru, Tower of Curon, southern facing slopes, clay

VASEU: north facing slope Savagnin.t asted Out of Barrel: Vin Jaune, Mailloche ’16, Curon ’16 (exotic fruit), Chalon, Poulsard en Amphore ’16, Trousseau ’16, Trousseau Singulier

PINOT NOIR “Sous La Tour”: limestone, 5 week maceration, whole cluster fermentation, very floral

EN BARBERON (PN): clay, whole cluster fermentation, epices, fumee, 5 week maceration, younger barrels = more oxygen, less reduction on the nose

DD: 3 month maceration, Poulsard & Trousseau 40/40, PN 20%, tight but pretty nose… “DD Motorboats”

SAVAGNIN EN AMPHORE: limestone, ooooopennnn!


CHATEAU CHALON VIN JAUNE vs. VIN JAUNE “EN ESPOIR” 2010: saffron butter, exotic fruit [Vin Jaune in Chateau Chalon (fine) vs. Arbois (heavy)]

CHATEAU CHALON 2010: Lias = citrus, gentle structured, opulent, textured, spice

MAILLOCHE 2014: calcaire, buttery & light, spices + illegible note

LA TOUR DE CURON 2014: argile, dense, deep golden yellow, oily, persisten and a bit hot maybe needs more time in cellar?

Vin Jaune always DRY cellar to elevate alchohol levels. 6 years in cellar, mix temp of room and cold cellar (Stephane first to do temp mix).

Vin de Paille: high sugar content in fermented juice


“Nothing added, nothing taken away” – A.Feiring

“de tout bouteilles” – Ganevat

“the reduction of today is the fruit of tomorrow”- Camille Riviere

Didier Chaffardon (Anjou, Loire)

“sans poesie, il n’y a pas de vie. les gents sont les creatures d’habitude. moi je suis entre les esperances et les souvenirs….”

*uses vin dame jeanne (handblown glass) for storing wine

*plays classical music for fermenting wines (lots of Chopin)

*on several occasions mentions Japanese food as a great pairing with his wines

*if grapes are too dry at harvest, they will be empty in the glass….except for when he does passito


  • light reds
  • heavy reds
  • heavy whites
  • light whites
  • barrel whites
  • sweet whites

Grolleau: 2 month maceration, grappe entiere, beautiful fruit, some rootiness

Cab Franc 1: 2 mois maceration, grappe entiere, vegetal, stemy green, liquorice

Cab Franc 2: whole cluster/6 mois maceration, racines, tannin, some brett

Cab Franc 3: 6 mois maceration, oregano!

Rouge ’15: Cab Franc 65%/Cab Sauv, macerated 10 jours ensemble, opened 8 days still energetic and very ^^^^^

L’Incredule ’14: freshly opened, bitter amaro, roots, nice fruit, myrte, a little hard to drink

Gélignon ’14: Cab Sauv pure, higher VA than expected, easier to drink, tasty fruit, cassis

Les Ecoliers: Chenin 3g sugar, salinic, iron nose, deep almost amber golden, umami

Clopin Clopant: tasted after 8 days open, totally fresh and high aromatic

Chnaploid (“chenin a ploid”= non reproducing/pasturized…genetically modified oysters that never produce milk, usually unused”) ’14: Chenin 1 g sucre, umami, oyster brine, tons of length! 10 days open !! ^^^^^

Chnaploid: just opened, Chenin concentré, bright zest citrus, tropical fruit, prickly

Isodore: Chenin concenté but in a higher register, DELICIOUS, ginger, mineral, salinity, papaya, mango

“Trouvent un cepage” ’15: Chenin 1g res sugar, more aromatics with residual

In Barrel (3 parcels)

  • young vine 17yr Chenin
  • 50yr Chenin, ever fresh, more depth, vertical duration
  • vielles vignes 80yr, weighted, round, deep
  • ALSO a 2016 young vine Chenin, very POPPY

Pierre 2009: Chenin avec oiseaus :/

2014 Vine Dame Jeanne: apricots, heavy brine, orange, done passito method

2015 Vine Dame Jeanne: saffron, curry, botrytis

“the idea is to be completely transparent about the cepage and the millessime. il faut permit la poesie. there is no premeditation, I am in the cellar one day and decide what to assemblage.”


“water is the nectar of our consciousness, i think”


Patrick Corbineau (Bourgeuil, Loire)

Blanc ’99: shiitake, melon, salt, resin

Rosé: cab franc

Blanc de Chenin ’07

Rosé: Grolleau, yeast, copper, umami, mineral, milk chocolate, open top grappe entiere then 1.5 yr in foudre

Blanc ’15: stinky, prickly, sugar still fermenting!

Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc, shared cuvée (made with Lawrence), prickly, aromatic, vignes de Stephane

Cab Franc ’15: conquette, fresh, wiry, bright, good structure

Croix Fourcelet ’15: Cab Franc tiny reduction, tannin, deep fruit aroma, epice, dense

Chenin “A” ’15: fruit de føret, pine, fraicheur, roses ^^^^ (soil = argile vert)

Chenin Experimentale/Nouveau: a little “l’oiseau” (VA)

“it’s necessary to have some VA especially in Cab Franc (not Pinot or lighter grapes)”

Chenin ’14: earthy, mineral, vegetal, fruit du føret, de Fouchet (parcel)^^^

Cab Franc ’09: from parcel Epiciere, indian spices, concentrated, brambly

La Cumelle: parcel, not made anymore, higher acid, bright fruit

Cab Franc ’09: Classique, delicieux

Cab Franc ’05: MAG, pressed after 2 days, bottled 2016, later harvest, really good vintage so no risk of rot


*06,07,08,13 bad vintages in Loire


L’Ostal (Puy-Leveque, Cahors)

Louis & Charlotte Pérot

Experimenting with everything from grape varieties, assemblages, maceration times and labels/cuveés (changing every year)

New vineyard site in the works…freshly plowed vineyard site

lots of sand and red clay in this areapre-dinner glass, with the book that inspired Louis to make wine

everyone takes a walk in the old vines through the woods

“Regain”: L’autour (parcel), Duras égrappe (destemmed), giner, gentle acidity, pique, mostly morning forest

2nd L’Autour: same but north facing, maceration & harvest 1 week later

“Baron”: carbonic maceration Malbec ^^^

“Les Trilles”: merlot egrappe 13.5% 0.8 VA buoyant, 1 month maceration^^^^

“Spoon River”: Cøt egrappe 50%, Merlot grappe entiere 50%, 7 days maceration. smells like peonie brine??? nose a little closed but good grip on palate…open up in 6 months?

“Plein Chant L’Ostal”: savory nose, liquorice, herbes, 12%, Malbec fuisse, 3 weeks maceration, gentle pumpover

“La Chouette”: 2015 Merlot, grappe entiere, maceration by foot

“Plein Chant”: Malbec 2013 de grappe, slightly oxidized nose, fruit is dissapearing, tannins soft and present

“Anselme”: 2014 jamon serrano nose, Malbec egrappe, maceration & fermentation in barrel, good acidity, flips barrel, pops top off, labor intensive

home made playdoh carrots!!

La Ferme du Vert (Duras, Gaillac)

Jerome Galaup

local dialect: Occitane

“ecouter les vieux, mais pas trop…” (referring to them throwing 5 kilos of copper in the vineyard, but also generally)

Les Gresignol (surrounding forest)

Soil: “L’Amoreuse” because it sticks and cakes, a compact red clay, needs to be flipped in Nov after harvest

we took a handful of clay and formed a square, put it next to the fire overnight and it baked all the way through. he made the floor tiles for his family’s cabin out of the same clay.

he leaves the weeds because the help de-compact the soil. grass is knee high by harvest. he designed this machine to go between the rows and cut the high grass before november.

Petit Amoreuse: muscadelle, 2g sulpur ajoute, plein d’aroma & body (sept harvest)

Amoreuse: 2008 doux, digestif 110g resid sugar but very high acidity, better than sauternes, botrytis mauzav grapes near river where there’s more humidity (nov harvest)

Lou Gresignol: 2004 l’enfant de la grésignol (forest near house), Marzac 20%, Muscadelle 40%,  Loin de L’Oil (“L’En de L’El) 20% ALL SAME PARCEL

Dinner was several courses of greens and cheese, the dish pictured above which was a stew with veal and pasta. the bricks in the wall around the fire are made from the clay around the property. jerome built their house last year.

Lou Rosato: 2015 light color but deep fruit, gentle acidity, Duras parcel, same as Cado Tsoun, whole cluster fermentation

L’Angelou: 2010 fresh, lees, life, excellent ageing potential Mauzac 100%

Cado Tsoun: 2010 “chaque jour”, Duras parcel, de stremmed, 10 day ferment, removes juice then presses the must again. stemmy, malo unfinished still

Aqui Lou: “here it is”, Prunelat, Braucol (for cab/merlot lovers), intense, dark, almost VA on nose, open tank ferment in oct, elevage 10 mois en cuve a l’air

N’ia Pas: second spontaneous fermentation, L’Angelou but without bubbles Mauzac 100%Best apple pie I’ve ever had!!!! Made by Nathalie 🙂



Le Petit Domaine de Gimios (Saint Jean de Minervois)

Anne Marie et Pierre Lavaysse (minervois, but Vin de Pays)

Cuvee d’amie 2016: “rouge fruit”, aroma, huile de lavande, herbes, wood smoke. traditional vinification, higher abv?

2016 was a very high yield

carignan, mouvedre, grenache, cinsault, alicante, terrette b/g/r

stems will disappear, still en elevage

expose sud

muscat a petit grains -20yr old vines, 2.5 hectares, wild leeks in vineyard

La Garrigue- calcaire, quartz entiere, plants, nitrogen after harvest (cereals)

bought 1 hectare around his vines to preserve and guarantee natural enviroment and encourage biodiversity

very high quality brush (can’t remember what they called it) selected and sold for hearth fires

No sulphur added

thyme, citron, calendula, genet

1865 vines => pre phylloxera

Vielles Vignes Rouge: 13% equilibre, balance, tannin douce, herbes, some acidity, savory

Muscat Sec: fennel, salt, calcaire, mineral, mild filtration

Muscat Demi-Sec: moelleux, deep yellow, petit petillant YUMMM orange blossom, essential oils. 2 week fermentation, cold stop, removes gros lees to avoid bacteria

Petillant Blanc Sec: canteloupe, melon, honeysuckle, 2 fermentation, harvest late August, cold stabilization, 1-2 rackings, bottled immediately after, referments in bottle (methode ancestrale)

Muscat Doux: nutmeg, orange rind, clove