Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Reder of the lost grapes

Only 17km from Montpellier is a wonderfully empty area with hardly a building, person or even a vehicle to be seen. Green oaks and a twisty road are practically all that may be found between Cournonterral and Gigean although signs hint at unseen estates on either side. One had almost given up trying to find such a wild area in France. Along this road is a sign to Comberousse, the estate where Paul Reder farms 11ha of vines including the rarissimi Aramon Gris and Chasan.

We loved his rose from Aramon Gris which we found at Chapire 20 in Paris so a pilgrimage was in order when in striking distance this summer.

Paul is a Geologist by training and worked in the Petrochemical business in the US for many years. Returning to France he took over the estate which his family has founded on returning from Algeria. The reders were originally from Alsace where so many winemakers have come from.

When we first encountered Grigri, le Gris we saw it as more like an orange wine somehow.

When we suggested this to Paul he wasn't against the idea but said that in fact Grigri (meaning 'Talisman') is actually a true rosé and the others are false with their 'saignée' dodges and whatnot.

The other rare grape viriety Paul uses is Chasan, a University of Montpellier cross between Chardonnay and what is locally known as Listan but more generally known as Palomino Fino.

Paul makes only this and 5 whites. They are all immensely characterful and taste totally individual, full of character. Probably best enjoyed with food, they are all natural with minimum sulphur added.

The vineyards are hidden in the Garrigue. Paul works them alone for the most part, A huge amount of work especially for a father of 4. Mildew is combatted by sulphur and other organic sprays.

Everything on the estate is simple and functional.

As well as the following wines, Paul makes a Rousanne/Rolle Cuvee in special years called Rocalhan. The last edition was in 2011. Paul said there may be a small chance of making it again from the 2016 vintage. This was absolutely outstanding; the kind of wine that seems to have just the right touch of oak but has actually never seen oak. Hunter Vally Semillon is sometimes like that.

Pauls wines are highly praised and well thought of in France. They merit a much greater exposure.

For our purposes, Paul Reder should be celebrated for the propagation of the rare Aramon Gris and Chasan to such effect. Here are his own notes from the website of Hautes Terres Comberousse.

A rosé… or, rather, “gray” table wine
This cuvée originates from a single plot. The vines were planted in 2000 and made into wine for the first time in 2006. The evolution seen in the first several vintages should be rather noticeable. The aramon gris grape variety, similar to terret gris, is an old regional variety that almost completely disappeared during the uprooting campaigns of the 1970’s. It was used to produce a rosé wine, with a strong local reputation. The vine stock originates from a vineyard that was uprooted and is the product of visual selection of the most robust plants. The vines began with relatively small yields (15 hl/ha) and have gradually begun to increase towards an ideal yield of 30 hl/ha.
Table wine, blending Chasan, Chardonnay, and Clairette
This cuvée is produced using three grape varieties in proportions that vary from year to year:
  • Chasan: this variety is the product of the hybridization of Chardonnay and Listan (an old local variety) in 1958, which was authorized to be planted in 1973. It is extremely drought-resistant and develops aromas similar to that of Chardonnay.
  • Chardonnay: a variety having traveled far from its original terroirs.
  • Clairette: a southern variety with a subtle, mineral flavor.
AOC Coteaux du Languedoc White
This cuvée is a blend of two typically Mediterranean grape varieties:
  • 75% White Grenache, which yields approximately 40 hl/ha – on this plot, the bedrock is dolomitic and is significantly visible on the surface, which greatly limits soil thickness. The yields are limited and consistent; 0.80 ha; planted in the early 1980’s;
  • 25% Rolle (also called Vermentino), which has an approximate yield of 30 hl/ha – harvested from a plot just uphill from the previously mentioned one, which has slightly thicker soil, allowing for the planting of this variety; 0.50 ha; planted in the early 1980’s.
Its name is the word used to refer to small “garrigue” felines who help regulate the population of rabbits who are quite partial to young vines. Sauvagine designates the whole of these different small felines. This cuvée complements Roucaillat, because it has a more conventional organoleptic profile, with fresh flower, citrus, and very light spice aromas. It is produced from the first picking of Rolle that come in just before the one-time harvest of all of the Grenache.
AOC Coteaux du Languedoc White
This cuvée is a blend of three grape varieties:
  • 1/6 White Grenache, with a yield of 40 hl/ha on a dolomitic substrate (same plot as that used for Sauvagine);
  • 2/6 Rolle (also called Vermentino), with an approximate yield of 30 hl/ha. – harvested from a plot just uphill from the previously mentioned one, whose slightly thicker soil allowed for the planting of this variety.
  • 3/6 Roussane. Here, Roussane provides yields around 25 hl/ha, spontaneously (without the use of corrective measures). It expresses a lovely mineral quality, accompanied by smoky aromas. It occupies the highest-altitude plot on the property (170 m).
Roucaillat is the flagship of our terroir. Approximately 14000 bottles are produced, yearly. A long maturation in the vat, as well as in the bottle give this wine a harmony that is able to express itself for numerous years. A “typically Mediterranean” white wine, its complex aromas and its structure make it the ideal complement to the unlikeliest of dishes. Several vintages are available.
 AOC Coteaux du Languedoc White
The two grape varieties that combine to make this cuvée seem to be the best suited to this purpose, because, with the passage of time, a natural balance has been struck between yield (25-hl/ha) and vigor:
  • Roussane: 2/3. Harvesting the plot in successive passes allows us to select grapes based on their maturity. Thus, the Roussane designated for this cuvée is harvested from the driest, highest part of the terroir. Its expression, therefore, depends greatly on the vintage, and certain years, the yield is to small to allow for the production of an individual cuvée.
  • Rolle : 1/3. The grapes used here are also those harvested from the highest plot of that grape variety.
This is a very distinctive and concentrated wine, which pairs perfectly with a meal.

In the cool store

Farm building

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