|2021||DH201B21||6 x 75||Natural Cork||Available|
Located in the heart of the Pic Saint-Loup appellation in the Languedoc, Domaine de l’Hortus was established by Jean Orliac in the late seventies. A keen rock climber and recent agricultural college graduate, Jean recognised the potential of Mount Hortus’ abandoned and steep limestone slopes for growing both red and white grapes successfully. Fortunately, the land was unwanted, and therefore cheap, so Jean managed to purchase 50 hectares. He then spent the next 15 years understanding the complex soil structures and carefully selecting the right parcels for each grape variety, before releasing their first vintage in 1990. Over the years, this unique location has persuaded his children to return home and take over different parts of the business. Now over 40 years later, Domaine de l’Hortus is a flag-bearer for the appellation and with 80 hectares to their name, François, Yves and Martin Orliac continue to drive it forwards.
This next generation have introduced higher planting densities and sustainable practices in the vineyards. Viticulturalist François uses cover crops and deep-rooting plants to break up the soil naturally, plus vegetal compost to boost the soil quality. Thanks to the moderate climate and surrounding rich biodiversity, no pesticides or insecticides are required. The limestone terraces planted on the lower slopes of Mount Hortus reflect the heat and allow Mourvèdre to ripen well. In contrast, the cooler north-east facing, steep slopes of neighbouring Mount Pic produce scented Syrah and bright Grenache, while the alluvial soils of the valley floor suit the white varieties.
The Grand Cuvée Rouge is sourced from the mid-slope limestone terraces varying from 150-300 metres in altitude. This parcel benefits from the best water supply which, together with the limestone and altitude, allows for both homogenous maturity and excellent freshness. The blend is 65% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and vinified in vats before being blended and matured in new, one and two-year-old 225 and 400 litre oak casks for 12 months to lend added complexity.
The Bergerie white and red are sourced from the valley floor and foothills respectively. The vines are less exposed to the elements than the higher terraces and the grapes therefore mature later, resulting in an excellent balance between acidity and aromatic complexity. The white is a blend of Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Sauvignon Gris. It is classified as Vin de France as the Pic-Saint-Loup appellation only currently includes red and rosé. The grapes are harvested at night to retain maximum freshness and are then gently pressed and undergo cold-settling before a three to four week fermentation. After blending, the wine is then kept in vats for four months before bottling. The limestone foothills and 150 – 200m altitude help the Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah grapes to retain acidity, bright fruit expression and produce a vibrant red blend. The grapes are de-stemmed, crushed and then fermented in stainless-steel vats. The Grenache and Syrah are kept in vats for 12 months while the Mourvèdre is matured in two-year-old oak casks to lend additional weight to the blend.
The vineyards stretch across a deep valley in between two mountains: the Pic-Saint-Loup and the Hortus. Jean Orliac planted small plots, depending on the grape variety and exposure, on the slopes of both mountains. The Grand Cuvée is sourced from the higher mid-slopes. The limestone terraces of Mount Hortus reflect the heat and allow Mourvèdre to ripen well. Whereas the cooler north-east facing slopes of Mount Pic suit both Grenache and Syrah. The plots are surrounded by oak and pine tree forests which provide protection from the wind. Jean's children have implemented higher planting densities and follow sustainable practices in the vineyards. For example, no pesticides or insecticides are used and cover crops are planted to boost soil quality and improve biodiversity.
The Domaine lost 50% of production in 2021 due to a severely damaging frost in April. The weather that followed was very cool and delayed ripening, and the summer was significantly cooler are more humid than usual. These cooler conditions translate into great freshness, aromatic complexity and vibrancy in the wines.
Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes were destemmed and crushed. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks and lasted for 25-30 days. The free-run and press-wine were then blended together and underwent malolactic fermentation. The wines were then kept in stainless-steel tanks for six months then aged for 12 months in used oak barrels (225L and 400L) before the final blend was assembled and bottled.
Tasting Notes & Technical Details
This wine has an elegant nose of garrigue herbs and bright black cherry fruit. The vibrant palate displays generous red and black fruit with notes of cocoa and spices. Well-balanced with fine-grained tannins and lifted acidity, the persistent finish is long and layered.