I’ve been meaning to write this post for over two months now, but life, death and work all got in the way. And now oddly what I’ve wanted to write about, I’ve recently come to learn, is fast approaching it’s end. Much like finding a band who’s recent album you absolutely love and you become a fan of, anticipating their next one only to find out that that next album will be their last. Well, kind of like this, but not exactly.
I’ve written of my love for the Marcillac from Causse Marines here before. As much as it seems I sing it’s praises, I never get tired of doing so. I first tasted it back in November and it blew my socks off. Late to the Southwestern France game? Perhaps, but better late than never I say. A month or so later it came onto the retail market here in the middle of the west. I picked up a few bottles and was just as head over heels for it as I had been at the tasting. I made it a point to learn as much as I could about this new and exciting area/wine. It wasn’t easy trying find information about this tiny, little appellation (which celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in 2010). Andrew Jefford’s The New France had like a paragraph on it. What turned out to have a nice section about Marcillac was French Country Wines by Rosemary George (which I happened to find at a used bookstore in Detroit). Interestingly, one the producers she detailed was just starting out and happened to be Philippe Teulier who makes what is probably the best known Marcillac wine under the Domaine du Cros. Additionally another resource about the area I found (or was clued into by the author) was an in-depth post on David McDuff’s great blog that he had written about Cros.
Just after I wrote that previous post about Causse Marines, I emailed Kevin McKenna (Joe Dressner’s partner) asking him a few (quite geeky) questions about the wine. He wrote back saying he didn’t know some of the answers himself so he would forward them on to Virginie at the winery. A few weeks later I got an email back from Kevin which had the answers to my extraordinarily geekular questions copy and pasted from Virginie’s response. First, and what will be apparently important in a moment, is that it is Domaine du Mioula who own the vines in Marcillac that Causse Marines get their grapes from and is where Patrice Lescarret (Virginie’s partner) is the consulting winemaker. And what is interesting is that the soil there is “more limestone and not [the] red ground which is very specific to Marcillac”. It’s all Fer Servadou that goes into the bottle, though the people there call it Mansois (and down in Gaillac it’s called Braucol).
As for the age of the vines, she says that the ones that go into the bottle that LDM bring in are between 10 and 30 years old. The ones that are 30+ (and up to 100+) years old go into a special cuvée that I believe only Mioula sells. In answer to the question if they are organically farmed, Virginie says that “The vines haven’t the organic certification but there is a hard work in the vines to be on the organic way (we hope it will be the next step)”. And being very, very honest she says that “there is still one treatment for insects (against “cicadelle”) and until 2010 they used some grasskillers just under the plant. We are trying to impulse an organic way of working but it is still difficult to understand in this region”. From my understanding, this information only relates to their Marcillac bottling and their Gaillac and other wines (like the delicious Préambulles) is actually demeter certified.
Now, here comes the latest news fresh off the Twitter feed (and confirmed by Kevin). And it’s quite sad (at least to me). The 2010 bottling of the Marcillac from Causse Marines will be their last. There will be no more, so stock up. Evidently, they were unable to reach an agreement with the owner of Domaine du Mioula regarding the progression to organic grape growing and have decided to stop purchasing grapes from Mioula. Sad, no? Though at least it’s assuaged by the fact that Causse Marines are making some other amazingly tasty wines (the Gaillac Les Greilles blanc, I’m looking at you).