It sounds so evocative, does it not? Lost vineyard sites, secretly tucked away throughout the garrigue laden hills and valleys of the Midi..
Old vines, many at 50, 60, 75+ years of age with names like mourvedre, grenache, carignan and cinsault.
Throughout the Languedoc and the Roussillon there exist numerous “lost vineyards” just waiting to be re-discovered.
Many of these small vineyards had been disregarded by larger producers because of their isolation, their low cropping potential and their inability to be machine worked. However with passion, talent and lots of hard work, fantastic and memorable wines can be made from such sites that bear the unmistakable imprint of this gorgeous countryside.
This ethos is precisely what inspired friends Paul Old and Hugo Stewart to establish their modest winery aptly named: Les Clos Perdus (the lost vineyards). This past spring, and en route from Cahors to the southern Rhone, I met and tasted with Hugo Stewart at their modest garage/winery located in the small sea side village of Peyriac de Mer.
Neither Paul nor Hugo possess a conventional background in viticulture or winemaking. However this has not deterred them from diving in and completely immersing themselves in this new endeavor. Before working several vintages in Australia and Bordeaux, Paul Old enjoyed a successful career as a professional dancer. Pre Les Clos Perdus, Hugo Stewart worked and managed a farm in Wiltshire, England. I suspect that the supreme dedication and rigour of both professions lend themselves to the present challenges and successes of Les Clos Perdus.
I first met Hugo Stewart at a trade tasting several years ago. After tasting several dozen wines, none of which rocked my world, I came upon Les Clos Perdus. Modest, unassuming and in perfect French, Hugo presented the “Prioundo”. One whiff of this nuanced and delicately spicy bouquet and I was captivated. No doubt there are lots of delicious wines to be found throughout the Midi, but these wines in particular had something very special to transmit.
2006 Les Clos Perdus “Prioundo” Corbières
The 2006 Prioundo contains 70% Grenache, 30% Cinsault from select vineyards in the Corbières hills, near the village of Villesèque. The juice had three days of maceration before the spontaneous fermentation started. After spending 21 days on the skins the juice was pressed and placed in stainless steel where it under went malo-lactic fermentation. Organically farmed.
The wines bouquet is both floral in character (faded roses), but also evokes a fresh fruit bowl of strawberries and raspberries. On the palate this medium+ bodied wine which presents itself as fresh and vibrant. Ripe fruit envelops the palate while fine tannins provide extra dimension and texture.
A second, delicious wine includes a healthy proportion of mourvedre, from a low yielding vineyard site with a view to the Meditteranean.
2006 Les Clos Perdus “Mire la Mer” Corbières
The Mire la Mer (in view of the sea) comes from this “Lost Vineyard’s” Mediterranean vineyards around the villages of Peyriac de Mer and Bages. The wine contains 55% Mourvedre, 35% Carignan from 100 year old vines and 10% Grenache. Organically farmed.
With firmer tannins than the Prioundo, and a meaty finish, it will benefit from a year or two in the cellar. Then, drink it with hearty fare such as brisket or grilled tri-tip.