Jamie Goode visits this dynamic producer in France’s Minervois region, making some lovely wines from 17 hectares of biodynamically farmed grapes
Le Loup Blanc (‘The white wolf’) is a relatively new project based in the Minervois region of the Languedoc. I visited with one of the four partners, Nicolas Gaignon. Two live in Montreal, Canada (they run restaurants and bars there), and Nicolas and and his wife live in the region. He’s orginally a winemaker from the Loire Valley.
When they started in 2003 they had an old cellar which had no electricity, and 17 hectares of old vineyards. There’s now a new winery, which was built in time for the 2015 vintage.
A short film of the visit:
They are organic and biodynamic in all their plots.
They are located at the edge of the Minervois, close to the Muscat de St Jean de Minervois and Saint Chinian appellations.
We spent quite a lot of time in the vineyards, which are stunning. First of all, old vine Grenache, then Carignan, then the single hectare of white. They have 2 hectares of forest that they are maintaining between the Grenache and the Carignan.
Boar are a problem here. They installed an electric fence, and this has saved them 2 hl/ha in yields.
Le Loup Blanc Le Regal 2018 Vin de France
Terret (40%), Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Carignan Blanc. One year in large barrels and a foudre. Concentrated, fresh and detailed with compact citrus fruit, some white peach and a touch of nuttiness. There’s a nice saline twist with nice acid line and some tangerine detail and pleasant bitter hints. Nice intensity and presence. 92/100
Le Loup Blanc Carignan Blanc 2017 Vin de France
Nutty, slightly oily nose with some lime and lemon. The palate is lively, intense and vivid with keen acidity and some spicy, nutty characters. Powerful and distinctive with a citrus fruit core. Has some grip, too. Such an interesting wine. Just 700 bottles made. 92/100
Le Loup Blanc Soif Rosé 2018 Aude IGP, France
Cinsault and Grenache. Pale in colour. Nice detailed, stony, savoury style with good precision to the citrus and cherry fruit. Very stony and dry and quite delicious. 90/100
Le Loup Blanc Soif 2018 Vin de France
Negoce wine, but organic grapes. Pick the grapes and do the vinification. Schist soils, 50% Cabernet Franc, 50% Syrah. Vivid, pure and well defined with crisp, bright black cherries and blackcurrant hints. Supple, fresh and vivid, this is a really drinkable wine with beautiful fruit expression. There’s a bit of whole bunch here. Has some nice structure. 92/100
Le Loup Blanc Le Regal Rouge 2018 Minervois
They have 20 plots and this has 15 of them in the blend. Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, just in concrete tank. Bright and expressive with nice bitter plum hints and bright raspberry and cherry fruit. Has a nice crunch with some tannin, and good acidity. Some hints of pepper and herbs, with a nice savoury twist. Lovely wine with good structure and freshness. 93/100
Le Loup Blanc Les Trois P’tits 2018 IGP Aude, France
Carignan, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet and Tempranillo. Floral, vivid cherry and berry fruit on the nose. Juicy and bright with nice raspberry and red cherry fruit with nice intensity. Has freshness and a bit of grip. Good, direct, quite tannic fruit here. Has real crunch on the finish. Very stylish. 92/100
Le Loup Blanc La Mère Grand 2015 Minervois, France
This is from the stony limestone soils. Licqourice and leather notes on the nose with compact black fruits. Powerful and quite structured on the palate with earth and leather hints, good tannins and nice bright red fruits poking out. Quite serious and sophisticated with a lovely savoury side to it, and nice acid line. 93/100
Le Loup Blanc La Mère Grand 2018 (sample from cask)
Powerful and structured with nice density, and vivid black fruits. Quite inky and intense, with good acidity and structure. Very expressive with a long future ahead of it. 92-94/100
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