Can you make great Pinot in southern France?
Bruno Lafon says you can, and he's right. You may recognise Bruno’s surname and that’s because his brother still runs the family estate in Burgundy, one of the most prestigious in Meursault, the Domaine des Comtes Lafon.
Berry Bros & Rudd currently sell Bruno’s brother’s 2017 Volnay for £105 a bottle, and I’m sure it is rather fabulous, but I’m also more than happy to pass the time with a bottle of Bruno’s new Pinot Noir from Limoux for nearly 10 per cent the cost.
You see, about twenty or so years ago, Bruno set out to make wine in the down-at-heel Languedoc, where land was (and typically still is) cheap and experimentation rife. Many a winemaker has tried to make inexpensive Pinot Noir in the hotter climes of southern France, but most have failed, because you might get a perfectly nice, jammy little red, yet barely resembling the ethereal qualities that make Pinot so alluring in the first place. Pinots in name but not in taste, you might say.
But Bruno’s greatest skill is his nose for a good vineyard and for Le Sud Pinot Noir he has found an absolute gem. The label may contain the rudimentary classification of ‘Pays d’Oc’ but this plot is effectively in Limoux, if just outside the appellation boundary. This is important because Limoux is a famous sparkling wine region and for sparkling wine you need acidity, and to achieve acidity in a hot climate you need cooling influences, and typically that means proximity to water or altitude. In Limoux they have the latter.
So, this is why Bruno’s Pinot Noir, while certainly ripe and fruity, has the structure and elevated acidity you want in the finer examples. Who knows, you may even prefer it to his brother’s…