We met Laurent through a chance meeting with Antoine Azzoni who was helping to translate at another visit we were on. He asked us if we had tasted his wines, we said no, sent him a message and were there the next morning. His vineyards are high up in the Cevennes mountains and the breathtaking views on the journey there were quite special, turning out to be a famous cycle route.
He's on his own up here, 500m above sea level and this isolation is perfect for organic viticulture, surrounded by nature, the wild Cevennes forest. The elevation also brings freshness to the wines, the cool nights preventing the wines from getting to jammy, in an increasingly hot climate. This is particularly true for his Gamay, which perhaps would not work as well if grown down in the heart of the Ardeche.
The soil is sandstone formed in the Triassic period coming from the degradation of granite that was recompressed by pressure when the sea settled in this time. There are large quartz pebbles, shale and flint from the glacial scree.
Laurent's facility is simple, but purpose built for the way he wants to make wine. There is a platform behind the winery on which sits a basket press, when he presses the fruit, it runs by gravity down to the tanks where the wine has it's elevage.
He is meticulous in his work, a renowned viticulturist his fruit is pristine and cellar incredibly clean. Perhaps this is why his wines are too, despite him eschewing the use of sulfites, fining or filtering. They even stay open well for days. The wines are about fruit and freshness, he wants to translate the youthful fruit of that vintage to the bottle and to that end elevage tends to be relatively short to preserve that freshness.
This work is second to none, but it is Laurent's vision to make wines that are simply brilliant value and easy to understand. Mercé Laurent!