Spotlight on Languedoc-Roussillon: Clot de L’Oum La Compagnie des Papillons 2005
If Roussillon is sometimes known for overtly heady, viscous wines, then the Clot de L’oum would speak of a different place. This is a wine that conspires to offer the drinker more than what they bargained for with 60-year old vines, organic viticulture and solid terroir.
Biodiversity in Roussillon
Situated on the Maury river in Roussillon, Clot de L’Oum is a winery that loves what it does and where it does it (if you read French, check out their fantastic blog). Not only do these guys love what they do, but they actually went about revitalizing the land on which they grow their grapes. Ten years ago, the only visible organisms on the land were two worms every 2 hectares. After moving the domaine to biodynamic principles and stopping all the pesticide and herbicide use in the vineyard, so much life returned to the vineyard that they named their red wine after the butterflies who came back after a decade away.
Of course, it’s important to keep all this in perspective – the agricultural idyll is far fetched on a global scale. However, important lessons remain. Certain methods can bring life back to a place and restore biodiversity. Small, dedicated producers who sell to a wealthy clientele are particularly well suited to this paradigm. That said, these wines are not priced in the stratosphere like many of their prestige counterparts (at least not yet), and are thereby offering outstanding value for the quality of what’s in the bottle.
Will this trend to comparatively moderately priced wines made with methods that respect biodiversity remain sustainable as critics like James Suckling from the Wine Spectator start to get interested in biodynamics and ‘natural’ producers? Practically speaking, will these wines ever be accessible to the average person? These are tough questions.
A Wine of Weight and Clarity
That said, this is an excellent and brooding wine with black cherry and licorice aromatics and cherry and licorice richness married to a herbal and stoney secondary backbone on the palate. This has very nice balance, is a clean and expressive wine and is big and full flavoured without being heavy – perhaps something to do with the 60+ year old vines grown on gneiss and schist soils. A blend of Carignan and Grenache, with a touch of Syrah.
Very Good to Very Good+
~$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar and occasionally on the list at L’Abattoir