Maxime-François Laurent “Pourpre” (Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge, 2014)
The Southern Rhône is a magical place. On a sweeping tumble of broad terraces beneath villages of ancient glory lie sun-drenched vineyards filled with the scents of thyme and lavender. To drink a good bottle of Côtes-du-Rhône is to drink the warmth of southern France.
In an area as extensive as southern Rhône there are all sorts nuances separating different vineyards. Maxime-François Laurent captures the essence of 50-80 year old grenache vines growing from clay and limestone soils, and the microclimate of the northeastern village of Montbrison-sur-Lez. He translates this into a wine of ripe, dense fruit that avoids being overblown or jammy.
Young Maxime-François’ star has plenty of years ahead to rise. He grew up at the esteemed Domaine Gramenon watching his talented father Philippe produce edgy wines until his tragic death in 1999. His mother, Michèle, stepped in to the role of vigneron and has brought the wines of Domaine Gramenon to near cult status. After schooling and winemaking experience in Burgundy, Maxime-François returned home to work beside his mother and begin bottling two cuvées at the domaine under his own name.
The Laurents do not merely champion biodynamic farming, they incorporate the concept of sustainability into their daily lives by growing their own food and raising their own animals. Their approach to winemaking is similar. The harvest is hand-picked and sorted to ensure only the best fruit is selected. The cellar is gravity-fed for minimal handling of the juice. The wines are typically aged in neutral oak demi-muids and foudres. All fermentations are natural, using only indigenous yeasts, and sulfur additions are daringly minimal.
The result are wines of freshness and purity. A bottle of Pourpre will add a little liquid sunshine to any cool autumn day.