2018 Clos du Rouge Gorge Rouge UBAC11055
REGION: Roussillon, FR
WINEMAKER: Cyril Fhal
"From one of those rare parcels of Cinsault du Roussillon on great terroir. This variety, which made the reputation of certain wines of the South before phylloxera, has been neglected or badly planted since. Ubac is a parcel on a 70 degree slope of gneiss facing due north with 50 year-old vines worked by hand and by horse. "It's the Pinot Noir of the South for me!", says Cyril. Always very fine material, very delicate, with length and a strong signature of the terroir. Whole berry maceration of ten days, then foot-tread and put in vat, with stems for the fine tannins they provide. 20 month aging in Austrian demi-muid, bottled by gravity." (Yields of 15 Hl/Ha, approx 20 mg SO2) Magic." - Andrew Guard
Cyril Fhal's Clos du Rouge Gorge comes from the village of Latour-de-France whose schist and gneiss terroirs are some of the best in Roussillon. Cyril bought 5ha of old vineyards in 2002 (since when he has gradually added another 2.5ha) having previously worked with Mark Angéli and Charlie Foucault in the Loire, and then as the chef de cave of Mas Crémat in Roussillon. Right from the outset he chose to work outside the Roussillon-Villages appellation, as he believes that rules such as prescribing a minimum 30% syrah and/or mourvèdre make for wines that are contrary to the tradition, soil and climate of Roussillon.
Since he took over, Cyril has searched for a natural balance in the vineyard to help give finer and more complex expressions in his wines. To avoid soil compaction he uses no tractors, just a motorized hand-held cultivator and a horse to help with ploughing. He also sows leguminous plants between the rows of vines, rolling them and folding them back in the summer so that they act as a reserve of humidity, helping each vine to suffer less from the heat and keep enough freshness in its grapes, which is crucial as the village of Latour-de-France is known to have the driest non-irrigated vineyard in the world (an average of just 250mm of rain a year). The crux of viticulture for Cyril is observing the nature of each of his vines and their environment with a lot of attention and reacting according to their specific needs.