Perfect start to the season

After the extremely dry 2016 growing season our stressed vines got what they need during winter, lots of water.

The 1000mm of rain that have fallen since vintage has allowed our vines to enter into bud burst with re-found vitality and surrounded by greenery.

The mild April temperature has prevented vigorous early growth that can result in severe cane breakage when followed by the all familiar tramontane winds off the Pyrenees

So, a very positive beginning.

Late January into early Spring is the time for  salons in Europe. This year I attended tastings in France, Switzerland and Italy. It is a vital time to taste and discuss the new vintages with importers, cavistes and sommeliers as well as many new faces . This intense period of tasting and communicating next to other vigneronnes offers time for reflection and can inspire you into the next growing season.

The current Les Clos Perdus wines that I thought were drinking particularly well during the Salon were:

Prioundo 2013 – A great expression of the cool 2013 season.  Lifted red fruit and plenty of sappy vitality.

Mire La Mer 2014 – The riper 2014 year. Primary fruit still showing while background of leather and charcuterie keep the wine well grounded. Powdery mouth filling tannins.

L’Extreme 2012 – The 2012 was a difficult year for Grenache due to an extremely poor flowering. So it is surprising how well this wine is drinking. Plenty of rustic garrigue on the nose.  Lovely balance, wet stone minerality, plenty of vitality and so easy to drink.

L’Extreme Blanc 2015 – Atypical L’Extreme Blanc due to long fermentation and extended contact with solids. Almost orange in colour. Concentrated baked apple, pear fruit and pickled ginger. Full of character and interest.

Vintage notes 2016

As vintage approaches there is a tendency to find similarities between past vintages, but when a vintage like 2016 arrives, all previous vintages flash into the distance. One become quickly aware of the importance of a sense of now, trust what you see and taste and know that the time of picking and handling of the fruit  in the winery will be critical if the potential of the crop is to be realised.

The winter of 2015/2016 was extremely warm – for reasons not relating to stoicism or being miserly we only used one bundle of firewood, compared with our normal three.

Expecting an early growing season we rushed to finish the pruning and apply the compost only to find that the warm winter had been replaced by a cool spring. This cool and dry weather continued into early summer, slowing down the progress of the vines.

We spent time bringing water to and weeding our newly planted Terret and Grenache Gris as very little rain had fallen since last year’s vintage.

It was another annoyingly poor flowering for the Grenache, which would be all ripped out if didn’t produce such elegant supple and seductive wines that blend beautifully.

Into early July what had at first appeared to be an early growing season was now running two to three weeks later than average.

Then summer proper arrived, perfect for tourists, beach day every day and no rain.  The vines took on the water stress that I hadn’t seen before. Two things can happen in this  situation; the stomata in the leaves can close preventing the water loss, closing down photosynthesis and delaying maturity, or the opposite can occur, with the vine acting like a selfless mother and rushing its offspring to maturity at the risk doing itself serious damage. In all the varieties apart from the Carignan it was a rush towards maturity that occurred.

In late August  sugar levels in the grapes started rising quickly so we decided to pick, opting for freshness and good backbone of  acids rather than rich soft juice with  high potential alcohol levels .

Many hours in the cave were spent removing green stems that seemed to splinter in the de-stemmer and for this reason whole bunches were fermented when the stems were not too green.

I like what I’m now seeing in the cellar. Delicate, with less tannins than I’m used to, some greenery but very clean crystalline wines with great tension and aromatic lift.

The true quality of this 2016 vintage will be revealed in time, but we do know that the quantity is down on last year, partly due to the wild pigs that decided that braving the vineyard’s electric fence was worth the drink.

In the next couple of weeks we will finish pressing the reds and move back to the vineyards where we will be applying the bio-dynamic cow manure compost, 500P . The cycle starts again.

Welcome to our new website

Website cave 012

The launch of our new look web site represents a new stage in the life of Les Clos Perdus.

Over the last two years, in the knowledge that my founding partner Hugo Stewart would be leaving the business, I have put in place a team of talented individuals that will help carry Les Clos Perdus in its ambitious journey of creating vibrant and elegant wines that reflect the wonderful and varied terroir of the Languedoc/Roussillon.

Over our short history it has become evident that the functioning and success of a viticulture/winery business relies, and is fuelled by, an extended family that understands the workings, ambitions and philosophies of the enterprise. These people include direct family, winery and vineyard workers, suppliers, agents, importers, caveists and sommeliers.

We are very grateful for those of you that have helped fuel Les Clos Perdus to this point and are looking forward to sharing with you our continuing development.

In the cave we have already undertaken a level of small batch exploration in new techniques and blends that should inform Les Clos Perdus in its future. In the vineyard we have increased treatments with tisane and compost liquids so as to reduce the reliance on sulphur.

So, having gathered a body of knowledge we hope to move forward with the same energy and innocence of our beginning.

Little Gidding

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S Eliot