The Southwest

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L’Enclos des Braves: 43.835679, 1.695509
Château De Gaudou: 44.507263, 1.096940
Château Flotis: 43.783897, 1.357670

Home to some wild grapes like Braucol, Duras, Len de l’Oeil, Malbec and Tannat, the South-West region of France, situated East of Bordeaux and North of Toulouse, has long been a source of some crazily interesting wines. These days, a new generation of winemakers is making big but graceful, elegant and lovely wines from these traditionally tough grapes.

Vinotas Selections has found a few of those visionaries and is proud to offer them to you.


Château De Gaudou

This ancient, 17th century château located about an hour from the city of Cahors is making some fantastic and well-priced cuvées from grapes that were once thought untamable. Winemaker Fabrice Durou has captured the beauty of the Malbec and Tannat grapes while subduing their legendary tannins.

Their 37 hectares of vineyards, aged between 30 and 120 years old, are planted on southeast-facing gravel slopes for maximum exposure, with grass between the rows to force the vines to work harder. Grapes are sorted both in the vineyard and at the winery, and indigenous yeasts are encouraged to start the fermentation. The end results are very elegant but very “Cahors” wines, with beautiful black fruit balanced by lovely acidity and long length.

WINES

The Tradition is, as its name indicates, a traditional wine, made at the chateau for centuries and whose quality benefits from its heritage. Very fruity, spicy and perfumy, it exhibits red fruits with some light vanilla notes. The palate is medium-bodied, with more spicy red and black fruits, soft tannins and a nice balance.

Other wines:

  • Rosé de Malbec Premier Grain

L’Enclos des Braves

The Gaillac region of France, Northeast of Toulouse, is a wild and relatively unknown area. For years, it’s been the source of inexpensive table wines made from international grapes. However, a few small family domaines are looking after their heritage and using indigenous grapes to made darkly soulful wines.

After having worked at other wineries for over 12 years, in 2005 Nicolas Lebrun found the plot he was looking for: L’Enclos des Braves. This small hilly 6 ha (14.82 acres) vineyard was topped with limestone-rich soils and a thick layer of clay, perfect for drainage. The vines were all 20 to 35 years old, and Nicolas took to them like a father to his kids.

Treating them in accordance with Biodynamic principles, he uses only indigenous yeasts, manually harvests everything, and adds barely any SO2 at bottling. Like children, he lets the wines take their time. To put it mildly, he is making beautifully wild and soulful wines with these local grapes.

WINES

Nicolas’ Gourmand Sec Rouge makes you want to wrap yourself up in it. It’s like drinking exquisitely fine dark purple velvet, with sparkles of minerality and a long, grippy finish that goes on and on and on. This is a textbook example of a wine that’s both relatively big and balanced, with gorgeous dark fruit and crisp acidity. Best of all, a bottle open for 6+ days was still delicious.

Other wines:

  • Gourmand Sec Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc, Loin de l’Oeil)
  • L’Enclos Rouge (Braucol, Prunelart, a hint of oak)
  • Bravissimo (old-vine Braucol)

Château Flotis

Château Flotis’ winemaker, Katia Garrouste, trained with Fronton’s best-known advocate, Jean-Luc Ribes at Le Roc until 2004.  That year, she and her work colleagues Cathy and Myriam Ribes purchased the property that would become Château Flotis.  The domaine is located in the hamlet of Castelnau D’Estrétefonds, at the heart of the Fronton appellation. It is located on the highest part of the appellation with some of the most complex terroirs.  Thanks to this variety of soil types spread across numerous plots (primarily silt, boulbenes and gravel), the wines tend to get lighter further down the Fronton plateau, with those from the top being more Rhône-like in character.

When the winery was first bought, the chais was completely rebuilt below ground level; this enabled harvest loading by gravity and brought temperature control to the grapes.  The vines are old (45+ years) and densely planted to force them to work.  From Day One, the partners decided they’d be Organic, with some Biodynamic practices thrown in for good measure.  They also decided to focus on the region’s native grape, Négrette, to celebrate the area’s vinous heritage.

WINES

The Château Flotis Cuvée Jeanne comes from grapes grown on a layer of fine silica over a mix of stones, oxydized soils and marl, from vines that are over 45 years old and have been treated Biodynamically, located from the base of her hill to midway up the slope. Fermentation is done with native yeasts in cement, then aged 2 years on their lees in cement. Unfined, unfiltered, the wine offers gorgeous dark floral notes, red and bright blue fruit flavors on a refreshing structure, ending in a long finish.