Corbières Blanc, Domaine des Deux Clés, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2016

Corbieres Blanc Les Deux Cles.jpg
Corbieres Blanc Les Deux Cles.jpg

Corbières Blanc, Domaine des Deux Clés, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2016

from 18.50

Domaine des Deux Clés

We met Florian, the winemaker and owner of Domaine des Deux Clés, at a tasting organised by a group of Languedoc winemakers. It was a relaxed, knockabout affair with a real sense of camaraderie in the room and one of the more established producers had allowed Florian to perch on the end of their table, because he couldn’t afford to pay for a stand of his own. It was his labels that had caught our eye - sepia photographs on textured paper showing images of craggy terrain, presumably home to the vineyards of this unfamiliar domaine - so we were keen to find out more. Florian squeezed through the gap between the tables and introduced himself in his softly-spoken manner while pouring us each a glass of his Corbieres Blanc. We took a quick sniff. At this point, one of two things will happen. We will either get out our notebooks or we won’t. It’s our secret code that tells the other whether or not we are interested. We whipped them out simultaneously, like gunfighters in the Wild West. Florian gave us an overview of the domaine and the good news kept on coming. They were brand new, so this was their first outing. They didn’t have an importer in the UK yet (spoiler alert: they do now!). They only make small quantities. They work organically and biodynamically in the vineyards. They own their own vines, some of which are over 100 years-old. They do everything themselves by hand (tilling the soil, soft-pruning, hand harvesting etc). But most of all they are a young and determined couple doing all they can to make sure that they start from the right place to give themselves a bright future. How are your cockles? Mine are positively toasty.


Corbières Blanc, Domaine des Deux Clés, Languedoc-Roussillon 2016

We don’t need an alarm clock when we have a wine like this on our list. It’s not just the quality of the wine itself, it’s the joy of discovering an exciting new winery taking their first tentative steps and bringing it to your attention. Florian and his wife, Gaëlle, met while they were working in Burgundy and have been together ever since, both romantically and as winemakers. In 2015 they bought a small parcel of organic old vines near the hamlet of Fontjoncouse in Corbières (only 120 inhabitants, but a 3-star Michelin restaurant!) and so the dream began. Thanks to winemaking stints in Burgundy and the Rhone (Florian was an intern at Chateau de Beaucastel) as well as Tuscany, California, New Zealand and Germany, they have filled their backpacks with a wealth of experience and brought it all back to this wild part of the Languedoc, known locally as the Vallée du Paradis, high in the hills above Carcassonne.

Florian says that their aim is to bring a “Burgundian mentality” to this rugged region, so parcel selection is important, as is freshness and tension in the wines, which is greatly influenced by the fact that the vineyards sit at 1,000 feet above sea level, so it’s much cooler than down on the plains. This and the combination of seriously old vines (their youngest are 60 years old, but most range between 80 and 109 years of age) and the health of the vineyards (they are converting to biodynamic farming, although Florian says they have been too busy to get certification) means that the fruit is of the highest quality, but even so, they still perform a rigorous selection process before any grape is allowed into the winery.

This is their only white wine, a blend of Macabeu, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Vermentino, fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in Burgundian oak barrels (20% new). It’s so beautifully chiselled and fine, a terroir wine first and foremost, but more than just a curiosity for geography junkies, it’s a cracking drink! It has the poise and finesse to stand in for the more obvious ‘white linen’ stalwarts. The aromas are so graceful, they don’t talk over each other, so each one gets a chance to speak, articulating wild lemons, wet stones, ginger, honeysuckle, chalk, quinine, lime and a little dusty rock salt. It’s beautifully structured (or charpenté, as the French say) with a bite and a pithiness to give it some vital edge. We’re huge fans of these mineral whites from the South and this is right up there with the best. 13.5% alc. Drink now-2025.
 
Press review:

Jancis Robinson (Tamlyn Currin): “A fascinating, puzzling, palate-wrestling wine that didn't let me walk away with a couple of ready-to-wear phrases. It smelt like dried, powdered clementine peel. And decayed orange. It was broad and textured and rumpled – like vintage linen – with an almost melted-cheese richness and savouriness. It was bitter Seville marmalade and chamomile flowers so dry they'd turned to dust. It argued with your mouth. Obstinate and opinionated and without tact. And yet it was wonderful. Wild, soul of Corbières, with its toes curled in dusty soil and a finger to the sky. Drink 2019-2026.“ 17 points


Customer comments:

“This wine is really awesome - so pleased I let myself be beguiled by your write up. Is there more of it?” - Mr M.B.

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