Here at the Beaune office, we continue to hear now and then from Yves Laboucarié, the sprightly eighty-eight-year-old patriarch of Fontsainte. He long ago handed over daily operations to his immensely affable and capable son, Bruno, yet he still enjoys coming into his “office,” a small side room by the entrance of the family home, to make some calls and look over faxes. While he walks with a stoop, due to decades of hard labor and injuries suffered when the plane he was piloting was shot down during the Algerian War, he exudes health and joyful mind and spirit. This cuvée, the domaine’s “basic” rouge (which is anything but), was Yves’s creation some fifty years ago, and today it remains the estate’s bread and butter. It should be yours, too. Whole-cluster carbonic fruity goodness mixed with darker licorice notes all go down with a guzzle. Perhaps this rouge is a key to Yves’s longevity.
The first vineyards at Domaine de Fontsainte were planted by the Romans. The original domaine was built around a thermal spring, which was later named for the local, 12th-century patron saint, Saint Siméon; hence Fontsainte—the saint’s fount. Yves Laboucarié’s family has been making wine here since the 17th century. For over 30 years, KLWM has been proudly importing his wine, and now we work with his son, Bruno. Like his father, he believes in the family’s legacy of innovation. He has re-equipped the cellars, replanted vines, and added new cuvées. It’s no secret why we’ve been working with them since ‘78. Year in and year out, they are the best. The fairness of their pricing allows us to offer incredible values to our clientele.
Ask wine drinkers around the world, and the word “Languedoc” is sure to elicit mixed reactions. On the one hand, the region is still strongly tied to its past as a producer of cheap, insipid bulk wine in the eyes of many consumers. On the other hand, it is the source of countless great values providing affordable everyday pleasure, with an increasing number of higher-end wines capable of rivaling the best from other parts of France.
While there’s no denying the Languedoc’s checkered history, the last two decades have seen a noticeable shift to fine wine, with an emphasis on terroir. Ambitious growers have sought out vineyard sites with poor, well draining soils in hilly zones, curbed back on irrigation and the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and looked to balance traditional production methods with technological advancements to craft wines with elegance, balance, and a clear sense of place. Today, the overall quality and variety of wines being made in the Languedoc is as high as ever.
Shaped like a crescent hugging the Mediterranean coast, the region boasts an enormous variety of soil types and microclimates depending on elevation, exposition, and relative distance from the coastline and the cooler foothills farther inland. While the warm Mediterranean climate is conducive to the production of reds, there are world-class whites and rosés to be found as well, along with stunning dessert wines revered by connoisseurs for centuries.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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