James Suckling 93
Pays d'Oc

2020 Domaine Laroque D'Antan IGP Côtes du Lot Néphèle Blanc

$169.00
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Save an extra $12: $2,016.00 for 12 bottles
The Collective Review

It took these pioneers more than 10 years to release their first wine. We can tell you, emphatically, it has been well worth the wait.

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"Lots of dried apples, pears, honey and honeysuckle. Some lilacs and dried lemons. Full-bodied with a creamy texture and lots of dried fruit, as well as candied lemon skins. Lightly waxy. So fascinating and delicious. Dense and flavorful yet agile and energetic. Mostly sauvignon blanc and sauvignon gris with mauzac rose and verdanelle. Made with indigenous yeast, barrel-fermented and aged. From the terroir-specialist, Bourguignon. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink now." jamessuckling.com Read more
Critic Reviews
Expert Review
93 POINTS
James Suckling

"Lots of dried apples, pears, honey and honeysuckle. Some lilacs and dried lemons. Full-bodied with a creamy texture and lots of dried fruit, as well as candied lemon skins. Lightly waxy. So fascinating and delicious. Dense and flavorful yet agile and energetic. Mostly sauvignon blanc and sauvignon gris with mauzac rose and verdanelle. Made with indigenous yeast, barrel-fermented and aged. From the terroir-specialist, Bourguignon. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink now." jamessuckling.com

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Technical Attributes
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Tasting Notes

When faced with a glass of wine as original as this, it’s natural to search for a comparison. In this case, our pursuit goes unrequited. This is a wine of contrasts, with the pungency of ripe orchard fruits countered by saline freshness; honey blossom sings of spring, while earthy notes point to autumn. Treble and bass. The mouthfeel is layered and complex, with pinpoint acidity leavening an otherwise dense core of flavour. With so much rocky presence, length and captivating personality, this is quite a leap from the already enchanting 2017. Although it was a challenge not to polish off the bottle, it looked even finer on day two.

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Winemakers Note

Described by its growers as tasting like “crystalline limestone soaked in sunshine”, this astounding white is a blend of Sauvignons Blanc and Gris, Mauzac and Verdanel. The two Sauvignons account for three-quarters of the blend (the cuttings were sourced from the great limestone and flint vineyards of Dagueneau, Cotat and Vacheron in the upper Loire). The white portion of the vineyard is two hectares on the upper slope, where the fractured Kimmeridgian is covered by just 20cm of workable topsoil before the vine roots tap into the rock below. In traditional field blend style, all the grapes were whole-bunch pressed and co-fermented, which can take up to three months as the wild yeasts do their work. Emmanuel Bourguignon used a mix of mature barrels (70%) and stainless steel for fermentation. Aging was for 10 months in used barrels sourced from Domaine Jacques Selosse.

Domaine Laroque d'Antan
World-renowned soil scientists Claude and Lydia Bourguignon have spent the best part of their lives working with some of the world’s greatest terroirs. In France alone, the Bourguignons’ Laboratoire Analyses Microbiologiques has advised the likes of Chave, DRC, Coche-Dury, Selosse, Dagueneau, Huet, Dauvissat and Egly-Ouriet.

During a routine soil analysis in 2005 in France’s southwest, the couple discovered the ruins of what was once a vineyard, lying in the small commune of Laroque-des-Arcs, just five kilometres from the medieval town of Cahors. A site almost entirely obscured by forest (a stony hillside on Kimmeridgian limestone), it had likely been abandoned following the phylloxera wave of the 1870s. The Bourguignon’s purchased the small parcel of land the following year.

Joined by their son Emmanuel, the family began clearing the woodland, and in the process uncovered abandoned stone huts (gariottes) and walls, feral vines and an old well (stained by Bordeaux mixture)—all relics of their place’s viticultural past.

The felled vegetation was mulched, and cereals and legumes were planted to stimulate the soil’s biodiversity. Claude Bourguignon notes that were this a conventional vineyard, the process would have taken up to 10 years for the earth to regenerate, but because this place had never seen any pesticides, it took just two. The first rootstocks were planted in 2009 at almost 10,000 vines per hectare (more than double the typical planting density in modern-day Cahors). Between 2012 and 2019, the family completed several field grafting campaigns—a far more physical and time-consuming process than the more common bench-grafting technique.

It took these pioneers more than 10 years to release their first wine. We can tell you, emphatically, it has been well worth the wait.

The vineyard lies just metres from AOC classification, not that modern bureaucratic status was ever part of the Bourguignons’ thinking. Through analysis, the family identified two terroirs: the top of the vineyard on shallow limestone, where the slope rears up to 35%; it then gives way to more clay as the slope descends—providing both a white terroir and a red terroir.

Drawing on a blend of history, climate data and their comprehensive knowledge on the subject, the family chose a broad selection of massale cuttings from a roster of each variety’s pre-eminent grower. Alongside Malbec and Cabernet Franc (from Clos Rougeard), the red vineyard was planted with Négrette, Prunelart (from Domaine Plageoles) and an ancient (almost extinct) dark-stemmed variety of Malbec called Cot à Pied Rouge (from La Grange Tiphaine). Planted on the upper limestone causse is massale selection Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the great Loire vineyards of Cotat and Dagueneau; Sauvignon Gris; two varieties of Gaillac’s Mauzac (Rose and Vert) and Verdanel (all from Plageoles).

As you would expect from France’s ‘first family of soil’, the work in the vineyard is second to none. As of 2022, Laroque D’Antan will be officially certified organic, and the vineyard is preparing for a transition to biodynamics within two to three years after that. The soil is worked superficially between March and July with a track tractor to minimise compaction. In winter, the inter-rows are protected with cover crops. Bees, hedges, fruit trees and wildflowers ensure the site’s biodiversity.

As far as we can tell, the cellar facilities have only been slightly updated since wine was last made here over a century ago! There’s a bladder press for the white and basket press for the red, as well as a stainless-steel tank and a concrete fermenter. All the oak is seasoned and sourced from the cellars of Selosse and Dujac. As you would expect from a family of microbiologists, wild yeasts are used exclusively, and fermentations are long and natural. 

 

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Delivery Details

Marketplace Product: Dispatch from Sydney warehouse in approximately 8 business days. Vintages for Marketplace items are subject to change, and we cannot guarantee the specific vintage you ordered will be delivered. Generally, the latest available vintage will be delivered to you.


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