Mas D'Agalis (Lionel Maurel)
(Nébian, Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Lionel Maurel is of the fourth generation of winemakers in his family, but he broke from the ways of his father and grandfather who previously sold their grapes to co-ops, choosing instead to make and sell his own wines in 2004. His land is in Nébian, about 40 kilometers northwest of Montpélier. He makes two cuvées from four classic Languedoc varietals—Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Carignan—selling them under the classifications Vin de Table and Vin de Pays du Lac de Salagou. Young Lionel farms his grapes organically, paying special attention to each individual parcel. He tills the soil by hand, uses only organic fertilizers (cow and sheep manure), and treats his vines with copper and sulfur. Above all, he seeks to reflect the vintage in his wines. Lionel farms 2.4 hectares of 70-year old Carignan vines on terraces from the Villafranchian period (1.9 to 1.8 million years ago) with rolled pebbles. His 12-year old Grenache vines cover about one hectare of Villafranchian terraces, and he farms about 2.5 hectares of 14-year old Syrah vines, also on Villafranchian terraces. Finally, his 18-year old Mourvèdre vines cover about half a hectare, all yielding 30 hectoliters per hectare. All grapes are handpicked, sorted, and steeped. Fermentation lasts about 15 days and is begun using only indigenous yeasts without SO2. The wine is then moved to a vat for ten days before being moved to a cask. At this point, Lionel may add about 2 grams of sulfuric dioxide per hectoliter if needed, dependent upon the vintage. All wine is aged about 12 to 18 months in the barrel.
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Vin de France Blanc, “Le Grand Carré”
50% Terret, the remaining is Vermentino, Chenin Blanc and Clairette
Lionel Maurel is located near Nebian, in the Languedoc. He is a fourth generation winemaker, working organically and with minimal intervention. He has worked with a number of top natural winemakers, including Thierry Allemand and Didier Barral. The Grande Carre comes from one hectare of vines planted in 2007 and 2008: 50% Terret and 50% Vermentino, Chenin, and Clairette. The soil is a calcareous clay with pebbles, at about 100 meters altitude. The hand harvest starts at the end of August with the Vermentino, Chenin, and Clairette, before their peek ripeness, to preserve the wine’s final acidity and mid-September for the Terret. The grapes are pressed gently over twelve hours before fermentation and an eight month elevage, part in resin (90%) and part in used barrique (10%). Native yeasts; vinified without sulfur and a small amount – 1 mg – added at bottling.
Vin de France, “Yo No Puedo Mas”
40% Carignan, 50% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre
Lionel handpicks and sorts before steeping the grapes. Fermentation lasts about 15 days and is initiated using only indigenous yeast. The wine is then moved to a vat for ten days before being moved to age 60% in tank and 40% in barrel for about twelve months. At this point, a minimal amount of SO2 may be added to stabilize the wine, depending upon the vintage.
Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Salagou, “Navis”
30% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 30% Syrah
The grapes for Navis are hand-picked and sorted before being steeped. Fermentation lasts 15 days, and is initiated using only indigenous yeasts with no added SO2. The wine is then moved to barriques, where it will age for 14 months. Minimal SO2 is added, if necessary, during this transfer.