Clos du Rouge Gorge Rouge 'Jeunes Vignes' 2021
Tantalising wine based on young vine Grenache (most around 30yo with some 50yo!). Although from the warm Roussillon environs, this is delicate, finessed, transparent and a totally absorbing wine. Lo -Fi all round, in vineyard and cuverie - no tractors, whole cluster-fermentation, minimal sulphur etc. = a seriously good drink!
Cyril’s ‘young’ vines are 30 years old , planted in thin soils developed over upturned schist in a lieu-dit called Mont-Redon after the famous CNDP estate. Vinified in 500ltr wooden cuve for three months, and then aged in stainless steel for eight months, to capture the fruit and freshness, Cyril’s approach is one of extreme delicacy, producing a floral, finely tuned 100% grenache with a notable schisty, mineral print and very fine grained tannins, "An infusion of grapes, allowing an expression of the delicacy of the variety," says Cyril. Ripe, complex aromas of blackberry, black-cherry, citrus, violet, plum skin and earth. Intense fruit on the fresh, medium-bodied palate, with blackberry and tart black-cherry, licorice, meat and earth, silky texture with lively acidity and fabulous length. This teases and tantalizes the senses in the same way the wines of L'Anglore do. Andrew Guard
Variety - Grenache
Country - France
Region - Roussillon
Sub Region - Côtes Catalanes
Extra - Cork
Year - 2021
Volume - 750ml
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.
Yields are tiny, in the 10-20hh range, and back in the new cave that he converted four years ago, the fruit is gently handled with extractions more like infusion, élevage in 500/600ltr demi-muids and foudres, no fining or filtration and total sulphur levels of just 10-15mg/l.
The range comprises two outstanding whites, the principal cuvée a mix of maccabeu and carignan blanc, with a couple of barrels of grenache gris producing a wine from the exceptional terroir of L'Ubac. The reds include a Jeunes Vignes grenache that shows that this grape can give wines with finesse and elegance, an old vine cuvée that is made from gnarled old carignan, and a red from L’Ubac that is a mix of carignan, grenache and cinsault.
Cyril is a workaholic and held in maximum respect by his fellow vignerons, and such is the inspiring quality of the man and his work that all of the other growers in Latour-de-France have now adapted to organic viticulture.
All his wines are exceptional, southern by their flavours and northern by their tension, acidity, precision, freshness and incredibly low alcohols (for Roussillon) in the 12-13% range.
Pascaline Lepeltier MS, Racines NYC : High up in the Agly Valley looking up at the Albères (the mountains separating Roussillon from Catalunya) some of the best wines in France are discreetly produced by a true vigneron, Cyril Fhal. I fell in love with his work more than 12 years ago, and I have been working with his wines ever since. Delicious young, I could pour his wines by the glass immediately, but they are also equally cellar worthy. We love them at Racines NY. They are favorite of the staff and the guests...The result: some of the most elegant, burgundy-esque wines you will ever taste, produced from grapes usually considered hot, rustic or unexpressive like grenache, carignan or macabeu. They are transcendent wines, because Cyril doesn’t count the hours and the sweat spent among his vines, and he is so precise in the cellar that the wines have a pure beauty, with an incredible poetry and energy. They are just among the most elegant and subtle wines you can find. And if you are not a believer in natural wines, they will change your mind.