France’s Southwest is full of surprises, and the small but historic Jurançon appellation, in the shadow of the Pyrenees, is perhaps not where one would expect to find racy, mineral-infused white wines that have more in common with Chablis than with other southern whites. But thanks to a truly special terroir and a unique cast of local grape varieties, Jurançon does all that—and more. Today, we are thrilled to announce the addition of a Jurançon specialist to our portfolio. Clos Larrouyat is a tiny, family-run domaine whose pristine, saline whites exceeded our wildest dreams about what could be done in this fascinating pocket of southwest France. Maxime and Lucie Salharang began planting the land—which belonged to Maxime’s grandfather—to Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, and the rare Camaralet in 2011. The domaine sits on a rare band of Triassic limestone that runs through part of the appellation, marking its wines with a distinctive saline signature. The couple farms three hectares, pampering their vineyards as if they were little gardens. Certified organic, Maxime and Lucie borrow elements from biodynamics with the goal of achieving harmony in the local ecosystem. Natural grasses left between the rows soak up excess moisture and force the young vines’ roots deep toward the bedrock. Herbicides are not welcome here; instead, a friendly flock of sheep is always on hand to lend a hand when needed. In the cellar, fermentation occurs spontaneously in neutral barriques, followed by malolactic—very rare in the region—that beautifully rounds out the Mansengs’ acidic edges. Six-month élevages in neutral wood with bâtonnage give the wines texture and depth. Added sulfur is kept to a bare minimum in order to, as Maxime asserts, “stabilize the mineral purity of the wines.” The Jurançon sec bottling featured today is a brilliant manifestation of the house style through the lens of its terroir, featuring delicate, citrusy aromatics, a pinpoint balance of zesty freshness with a silky, suave mouthfeel, and a long, mouth-watering finish. A blend of Gros Manseng with Petit Manseng, Météore delivers bone-dry, zippy refreshment with total charm. An incredibly saline note brings to mind the Triassic limestone terroir in which the vines grow, and will have you salivating with every sip. While Maxime and Lucie are still newcomers on the scene, their wines are sophisticated, complex, and display serious class. With this (modest) inaugural shipment, may the pleasure be duly shared.
Clos Larrouyat is a tiny, family-run domaine whose pristine, saline whites exceeded our wildest dreams about what could be done in this fascinating pocket of southwest France.
We are thrilled to introduce this tiny, family-run Jurançon specialist to the U.S.—a domaine whose pristine, saline whites exceeded our wildest dreams about what could be done in this fascinating little pocket of southwest France. Situated in the commune of Gan, just south of Pau in the shadow of the Pyrenees, Clos Larrouyat enjoys the unique climate that characterizes the vineyards of Jurançon: a combination of mountain freshness with meridional warmth, gently mediated by an oceanic influence from the nearby Atlantic. The landscape is lush and green thanks to the plentiful rainfall, while warm autumns featuring drying southerly foehn winds allow for the late harvests necessary to produce the region’s prestigious moelleux, prized throughout history and famously lauded by Colette for its seductive properties.
Tucked away beneath Bordeaux and buffeted by the Pyrenees to the south, this expansive region of France, commonly known as the Southwest, is home to a diverse number of viticulture and gastronomic traditions as well as cultures. Though Cahors might be the most well known (and easiest to pronounce) appellation from the Southwest, the importance and influence of French Basque culture cannot be underestimated. Irouléguy, the primary appellation of the Basque region of France produces full-bodied, hearty red wines, produced from Tannat grape (known for its tannic qualities). Dry whites from Irouléguy are also produced from Petit and Gros Manseng. Northeast of Irouléguy is the sweet wine-producing appellation of Jurançon. These moelleux wines made from Petit and Gros Manseng have a storied history in France, from being the first wine region to have a vineyard classification, which dates back to the 154th century, to being preferred wine of royalty dating back to the 16th century as well as the French poet Colette.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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