Meet Laurent Herlin

Laurent Herlin

Laurent Herlin

We don’t add too many winemakers that often, so when we do it’s something of a special event.  We try to keep the focus on quality and value, which is a tough job.  You can sometimes get one, sometimes the other, but rarely the two.  That Venn Diagram has a very tiny intersection, but that’s where you’ll find our portfolio (OK, OK, I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure I’m right).  So as I said, when we do get a new winemaker, it’s time to make some noise.

Tsoin Tsoin

Tsoin Tsoin

I was at a Biodynamic/Organic show in Angers earlier this year and came upon a tall young man with a huge smile and enormous hands.  You know you’re doing something right when you meet a winemaker at a trade show and the guy says, “Hey, I’ve heard good things about you.”  Really?  I’m flattered and humbled, apparently our winemakers are talking to their friends.  In this case, Pascal Pibaleau, who sometimes works with Laurent, had told him nice things about his US importer (us!).  Well, let’s see how his wines are, shall we? I proceeded to taste through Laurent’s production, and I have to say, he’s doing some interesting things in Bourgueil.

Bull?  Laurent?

Bull? Laurent?

Laurent himself is a monster of a man, standing well over 6’, with huge hands and a larger smile.  In fact, if you remember the old show Night Court, he resembles the tall bailiff Bull.  When he handed me a bottle, I thought he was giving me a half bottle until it landed in my hand and I realized it was a normal 750.  Uh, OK.  That said, his wines are really pretty and ethereal, a wonderful contrast.

Working the Vines

Working the Vines

First, some background: in 2008, after toiling for 12 years as a computer engineer, Laurent dropped everything to follow his passion: wine.  He took classes in Beaune and worked at various domaines.  Finally, he bought himself 5 hectares (12.35 acres) in Bourgueil, where he farms his sandy, gravelly clay/limestone soils biodynamically.

Laurent in his fields

Laurent in his fields

Harvest is of course manual, with a first selection in the vines, and a 2nd one at the sorting table to ensure quality.  Next, only indigenous yeasts are used to ferment the wines, some in steel and some in cask.  Lastly, and in keeping with his environmental philosophy, only recycled glass is used as vessels for his production.

Sorting table

Sorting table

His wines exude happiness, and Laurent doesn’t take himself too seriously.  He does take quality seriously, however, as his Tsoin Tsoin and other wines show.  The former is a carbonically macerated Cabernet Franc from Bourgueil which exudes happiness and lightness of being, with bright cherry fruit backed by a lovely mineral backbone and a startlingly long finish.  Unlike other wines like this, the Tsoin Tsoin was a delight to drink over several days, a sure sign of quality.  He is one to follow, and we’re proud to import his wines.

That's us!

That’s us!

These deliciously easy to drink wines will be arriving in late May/early June, perfect for summer quaffing.  Frankly, I can’t wait to pour some Tsoin Tsoin in my glass ASAP.  But hurry up, there are only 900 bottles of the 2013 available, so get moving!

Cheers!

PS: More great pics of Laurent and his vineyards can be found here: http://goo.gl/RcsKAH

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