Elegance with a sense of proportion
Nobody knows more about our wines than David Amiel, long-serving estate manager at Château Laquirou. He should know because both his father and grandfather made wine in the Narbonne region. «Characteristically strong grape varieties also require special vinification methods», he says. David is tall, broad-shouldered and a «Languedocian» through and through. Firmly rooted in the region and a former national rugby player, he has a particularly focused view without losing sight of his fellow players. He thinks little of the trend for elaborate wines that also persists in the Languedoc, countering: «What we strive for at Château Laquirou is a symbiosis of Mediterranean charm and finesse.»
In particular, with the red show-piece grapes Grenache and Carignan, his intuition is in great demand: «If the mash is over-extracted, the wines quickly lose their fruitiness and come across as bitter and harsh on the finish». This is why David uses a tried and tested method in wine-making technology - «carbonic maceration» , resulting in fruity, animating base wines which are then used to «refresh» those batches that undergo a traditional maceration process often lasting up to one month. To release an optimum amount of colour, fruit and tannin from the grape skins, techniques such as «cold maceration» (especially with Syrah grapes), but also «pigeage», «remontage» and «délestage» (see below) are used. The ageing takes place both in steel tanks and in French oak barrels; however, the wood is always used prudently and does not dominate.
Although the red grape varieties dominate at Château Laquirou (accounting for 70%), the white varieties hold their own equally well. Thanks to the Bourboulenc grape - which forms the backbone of our white Laquirou crus - our white wines have a crisp freshness rarely found in the south of France.
The maceration techniques
Experience has shown that the following wine-making techniques lead to the maximum enjoyment from the traditional red grape varieties here at La Clape:
During the carbonic acid maceration process, whole grapes are put into the fermentation tank intact. Fermentation begins intra-cellularly in the grapes. This gentle process produces fruity, mild wines.
The crushed berries are cooled to a low temperature in the fermenter. This allows the juice that slowly emerges to absorb colour, fruit and tannin from the grapes before the actual fermentation process begins. The result is a fresh-tasting and lively wine.
The grape pulp (consisting of the skins of the grapes) floating on top of the fermenting juice due to the pressure of the carbon dioxide is dipped regularly, manually or mechanically (by rods or pedals) into the must. This gives our wines a particular density and fineness.
The grape pulp floating on the fermenting juice is regularly wetted and submerged by regular and repeated pumping of the juice. Similar to the pigeage method described above, we achieve a full aroma in the wines as well as a clear structure.
The must is removed entirely from the fermentation tank and then pumped back over the grape pulp left at the bottom of the tank.