The Languedoc of the Mind
Ponds, pergola training, and paysan ice cream. Here's Issue 9, a deluge of dispatches from the Languedoc natural wine scene.
At the end of a recent tasting in Italy, I found myself assuring the organizers I had nothing against Italian natural red wine, per se. It was just that many of the reds we tasted felt like they’d undergone a rather workmanlike vinification regimen.
Don’t worry, I said. It’s not just Italy. It’s the same throughout the French south, and, surely, many other paysan wine regions.
The ingrained, volume-driven habit of destemming, coupled with the reflexive association of extraction with complexity, yields intense, reductive wines (particularly with dark mediterranean red varieties). Winemakers combat reduction with aeration, employing aggressive pumpovers and / or micro-oxygenation. Before long, the juice has been flattened out, exhausted. In the Languedoc, where I recently spent another harvest season, just as throughout Italy, this leads to a lot of uninspiring reds that just taste like vin rouge.
These wines are made in the Languedoc of the Mind. It’s a vast place, comprising much of the wine world. Everyone who, like archetypal hardy Languedoc cooperateurs, simply cannot believe their wines ever could (or should) justify the prices necessary to shell out for luxuries like manual harvesting, small tanks, patient, whole-cluster vinification, and so forth.
I’ll have more to share soon about recent adventures in Italy and the USA. In the meantime, here’s ISSUE 9: THE LANGUEDOC OF THE MIND, largely focusing on bright news from the region.
A PERSONAL ESSAY by Caux vigneron JOE JEFFERIES about overcoming the winemaking STEREOTYPES of the LANGUEDOC. (No paywall.)
An INTERVIEW with Puimisson maestro JEAN-FRANÇOIS COUTELOU about the biodiversity POND he has created amid his vines southeast of Pailhès.
A REPORT on UTE ZWANZIG’s new RUE DE LA GLACIERE, a PAYSAN ICE CREAMERY (and lunch counter), named for the street where she lives in BEDARIEUX with her longtime companion AXEL PRÜFER. (No paywall.)
A TASTE of the INAUGURAL 2021 VINTAGE of ANTOINE MONOD and OLGA IVANOVA-MONOD, the talented Franco-Russian neo-vigneron couple producing natural wine north of Bédarieux as HORS SAISON.
A LUNCHTIME CHAT with Haut Languedoc legend AXEL PRUFER about his recent and rather ambivalent acquisition of 7 HECTARES on the causse above Bédarieux.
An ACCOUNT of DELIVERING GRAPES to the local CAVE COOPERATIVE in AOP FAUGÈRES during harvest 2022. (No paywall.)
DINNER at L’ORT(O) AUX SERRES DE CESSENON, the Bosi family’s modest yet much-needed FARM-TO-TABLE ITALIAN DINING DESTINATION in the Languedoc. (No paywall.)
An INTERVIEW with CLOS FANTINE’s CORINE ANDRIEU on her family’s experimental HIGH-ALTITUDE parcel of PERGOLA-TRAINED SYRAH.
Plus, two souvenirs from the recent The World of Natural Wine book tour blitzkrieg around Paris, London, Barcelona, and North America:
A captioned PHOTO DIARY of the BOOK TOUR so far. (No paywall.)
A PODCAST of the BOOK DISCUSSION that renowned sommelière LAUREN FRIEL kindly hosted at her bookstore / event space WILD CHILD in SOMERVILLE, MA.
Lastly, a round-up of recent reviews of The World of Natural Wine:
Kate Dingwall, writing in Forbes, calls the book “A definitive (and beautifully illustrated) guide to natural wine. . . . A must read.”
David Kermode, writing for Club Oenologique, says it’s “a thought-provoking and often mouth-watering introduction to the subject.”
David Crossley, on his site Wide World of Wine, calls the book “Essential reading… Whether you are fully immersed in this world, or quite new to it, I cannot think of another resource as helpful as Aaron’s book.”
Many thanks to everyone who’s taken an interest in the book ! And many thanks, as always, for reading this here Substack.
ISSUE 8.5: A Putin Voodoo Doll
ISSUE 8: Local Heroes of the Côte d’Or
ISSUE 7: Unknown Legends of Bourgogne
ISSUE 6: What is Natural Champagne?
ISSUE 5.5: Volcanic Occitanie
ISSUE 5: Tales from Faugères
ISSUE 4.5: From Arles to Uzès
ISSUE 4: The Avant Gard
ISSUE 3.5: Reasons to Be Cheerful in the Jura
ISSUE 3: Lorraine to the Mosel
ISSUE 2.5: Postcards from Ardèche
ISSUE 2: Anjou Milestones
ISSUE 1: Unknown Beaujolais