The Ellis Team head to Lorgeril
One of the great joys of working in the wine trade is the opportunity to travel and visit our producers across the globe.
This June we took members of the sales team to visit Lorgeril at Chateau de Pennautier. We escaped the grey rainy weather we were having in London with an early morning flight down to Toulouse.
At our arrival to Chateau de Pennautier, we were welcomed by the affable Frank Flügge, export director for Lorgeril. After lunch and a glass or two of Lorgeril’s wines, we embarked on a walking tour of the vineyards; it is as fascinating as it is beautiful, learning about which varietals work best on the many different soil types whilst admiring the view and inhaling the aroma of the garrigue which is also present in many of the wines.
Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril have a very strong relationship with their vineyards and want to produce wines reflecting their principles. All the Lorgeril Estates follow sustainable agricultural guidelines and are certified HEV – 3rd level.
- High environmental value (HEV) corresponds to the highest level of a more general scheme of environmental certification for farms. The farm environmental certification is a voluntary approach, which aims to identify and promote particularly environmentally friendly practices applied by farmers.
HEV covers four key areas: biodiversity conservation, plant protection strategy, management of fertilizer use and management of water. In order to engage the whole agricultural sector in an approach focused on environmental progress, it is designed on the basis of certification of the whole farm at three levels.
The third or “high environmental value” level is based on performance indicators. Farm certification, which enables farmers to label their products with a value statement “from farms certified as having high environmental value”, guarantees a farm’s high level of environmental performance.
On returning to the Chateau, we got a brief tour and history lesson. Built in 1620 by Bernard Reich de Pennautier, he employed Le Vau, the architect of Versailles to design the wings of Chateau de Pennautier and Le Nôtre to design the French formal gardens. In 1622, he hosted King Louis XIII and as a result was gifted the King’s travelling furniture. The furniture is still at the Chateau in a specially controlled room and as a result, the Chateau is listed as a historical monument.
That evening we were thoroughly spoilt by the Lorgeril hospitality with dinner in the Chateau. A particular highlight of the evening was slow cooked lamb shoulder with Domaine de la Borie Blanche Minervois la Liviniere – absolutely delicious!
The sun was shining the next morning and we headed straight out to Domaine de la Borie Blanche to see where the favourite wine from the night before came from. 35km from Ch de Pennautier, the appellation of Minervois la Liviniere sits at an altitude of 400m and is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean and the large diurnal range (difference in day and night-time temperatures) allows the grapes to have a slower maturation which gives a real elegance to the final wines. The soils are key to this appellation and are comprised of chalk and schist, you can come across small dry-stone huts in the vineyards known as a ‘borie’ which is where the domaine takes its name from, ‘blanche’ because of the white chalky stones.
After our visit to the domaine and a range tasting, our coach wound its way up to the beautiful village of Minerve. Literally classified as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, one of the 156 villages in France with this classification. The village sits on top of the gorge of the River Cesse and has stunning views over the gorge and local surroundings – a must visit if you are in the area.
On our return to the Chateau, we had a quick tour of the Lorgeril winery and then sat down for a formal tasting. Before commencing with the Lorgeril wines, Nicolas Rosier from Domaine Rosier took us through our Blanquette de Limoux; made in the traditional method from 90% Mauzac and 10% Chardonnay, very fresh and zesty with classic appley notes and an elegant mousse. This was a winner in the Sud de France Top 100 competition alongside Lorgeril’s Cabernet Franc.
After tasting through Lorgeril’s range, we will be taking an additional two wines; Marquis de Pennautier Chardonnay and Assemblage ‘Terres Brunes’ (a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet and Grenache).
After a morning in the ancient walled city of Carcassonne, we bid farewell to our excellent host Frank and made our way back to the UK. A wonderful trip that really highlighted the quality and potential of wines from the Languedoc and in particular, the outstanding wines of Lorgeril at Chateau de Pennautier.