• Foillard's Corbières Protégé: Unrivaled Vitality of Maxime Magnon

    Foillard's Corbières Protégé: Unrivaled Vitality of Maxime Magnon

    When it comes to France's south-west Languedoc region I tread lightly. There are many hidden gems throughout, but certain criteria is a prerequisite: high altitude vineyards, very rocky soils, organic farming, and a light touch in the cellar. When a Burgundy-born, Jean Foillard protégé heads south you know there's going to be something special at the end of that rainbow. 

    In the case of Maxime Magnon, it's 100-year-old Carignan vines planted on some of Corbière's rockiest mountain terrain. They say the best wines come from soil so deficient in nutrients that nothing else but vines will strive. It's this kind of backdrop that sets the stage for the ultimate reminder that the Languedoc is capable of nuance, grace, and a true sense of vitality.

    Maxime began working in Morgon with the iconic, Jean Foillard. Afterwards traversing his way through the Languedoc spending time with Faugères's most respected ambassador, Didier Barral. He was then introduced to abandoned plots of old Carignan vines in nearby Corbières where he quickly settled.

    Most noted from Maxime's vineyards is the lack of topsoil. Certainly all great vineyards have a rocky base below, but in these high altitude parcels the drama is jaw-dropping (see picture below). Old Carignan makes up most of the plantings, but small percentages of Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Gris, Macabou, and Terret are found throughout and all grapes are fermented together. It's this addition that helps brings an elevated lift and aromatic brilliance to these wines that's ingratiated them to more natural-leaning wine lovers.

    Magnon's influence from Burgundy and Beaujolais are clear the moment you pour and put your nose in the glass. They have a paler hue than the Languedoc norm and the electric spice bursts out, reverberating terroir before you've taken a single sip. 

    I speak a lot about a wine's sense of life and verve. This heartbeat of authenticity is something winemakers often shy away from, instead opting for the safe haven of dark extraction of fruit and density for the sake of power. Magnon flips these typical Languedoc sensibilities upside down, instead relying on transparency and only minimal sulphur at bottling to highlight the most inherent traits of these ancient hillside plantings.


    Rozeta is sourced from a limestone and decomposed granite (schist) parcel of 50-60-year-old Carignan vines. It's supplemented with small amounts of the field blend: Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Gris, Macabou, and Terret.

    Campagnès comes from a clay and limestone parcel of Carignan vines all over 100-years-old. It is supplemented by 5% of the field blend.

    Both wines are aged in neutral Burgundy barrels sourced from Chassagne Montrachet. 

    2014 Maxime Magnon Rozeta Corbières Rouge
    $36 per bottle.

    2015 Maxime Magnon Corbières Campagnès
    $47 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • The Best of Languedoc Reds!

    The Best of Languedoc Reds!

    France's southwest Languedoc has always been known for its warm Mediterranean climate, diversity of soil, and unmatched value. Vines were originally planted here in 125 BC by the Romans, and the ease at which the vines took to the land made them an immediate success throughout the empire. Today, the region has an abundance of 100-year-old + plantings of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourèdre. The dry and favorable climate allows organic viticulture to strive. The trick is finding producers that hit that sweet spot between ripe, luscious fruit and fascinatingly mineral-tinged wines with a serious component of freshness. These are the benchmark producers of the region that deliver the goods. Don't let their modest prices lead you to believe these aren't incredibly serious and age-worthy wines. Each of these represent the best of their respective appellations, and all are found on top Michelin restaurants throughout the US and abroad. With fireplaces roaring these are the best choices to pair alongside your roasts tonight.

    Perhaps nobody exemplifies the pride and tradition of the Languedoc as much as Mas de Daumas Gassac. Located in the Hérault, the domaine was established in 1970 when Véronique and Aimé Guibert came across an abandoned farmhouse owned by the Daumas family along the Gasasc river. The underground cold water springs and surrounding mountains created a relatively humid microclimate that mirrored Bordeaux's Médoc. This combination led to the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon on limestone-dominant soils. Un-cloned cuttings from the top chateau of Bordeaux were planted here with the intention of giving top level quality rather than the more common priority in the region towards top level yields.

    The near-perfect 2010 vintage is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.2% Cabernet Franc, 5.3% Merlot, 3.6% Pinot noir, 3.2% Tannat, 2% Malbec, and 9.7% "rare grape varieties". It comes in at a cool 13.4% alcohol thanks to its unique location within Hérault and influences by the Gassac river and underground cold springs. Full of dark, savory spices, espresso notes, dark chocolate, and brambly blackberries. 

    Perhaps nobody exemplifies the pride and tradition of the Languedoc as much as Mas de Daumas Gassac. Located in the Hérault, the domaine was established in 1970 when Véronique and Aimé Guibert came across an abandoned farmhouse owned by the Daumas family along the Gasasc river. The underground cold water springs and surrounding mountains created a relatively humid microclimate that mirrored Bordeaux's Médoc. This combination led to the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon on limestone-dominant soils. Un-cloned cuttings from the top chateau of Bordeaux were planted here with the intention of giving top level quality rather than the more common priority in the region towards top level yields.

    The near-perfect 2010 vintage is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.2% Cabernet Franc, 5.3% Merlot, 3.6% Pinot noir, 3.2% Tannat, 2% Malbec, and 9.7% "rare grape varieties". It comes in at a cool 13.4% alcohol thanks to its unique location within Hérault and influences by the Gassac river and underground cold springs. Full of dark, savory spices, espresso notes, dark chocolate, and brambly blackberries. 

    2010 Mas de Daumas Gassac Hérault Rouge
    $49 per bottle.

    1988 Mas de Daumas Gassac Hérault Rouge
    $159 per bottle.

    1989 Mas de Daumas Gassac Hérault Rouge
    $169 per bottle.

    1990 Mas de Daumas Gassac Hérault Rouge
    $179 per bottle.

    Maxime Magnon was born a Burgundian, but without any family vineyard holdings. He worked alongside Jean Foillard of Morgon, where he learned the ultimate hands-off approach to natural viticulture and winemaking. He chose to settle in Corbières and purchased nine parcels over eleven hectares very high in the hills. He was certain that in order to craft intensely aromatic and wildly unique wines he would need to find that ideal spot with great elevation and very old vine plantings.

    Maxime employs organic and biodynamic farming, vinifies without sulphur, and uses a high portion of whole clusters in fermentation. He carefully sources Burgundian barrels from Chassagne-Montrachet. His wines are wild in a way that is rare for the Languedoc. They are very high toned and delicate, while still incredibly concentrated and intense. There's a liveliness on the palate that absolutely calls to mind those peerless wines of Jean Foillard.

    2014 Maxime Magnon Corbières Rozeta
    $34 per bottle.

    Rozeta comes from a combination of parcels on incredibly rocky limestone and schist soils with almost no topsoil. Mainly Carignan supplemented with Grenache Gris, Macabou, and Terret, which are all picked and fermented together.

    2015 Maxime Magnon Corbières Campagnès
    $47 per bottle.

    Campagnès comes from 100+ year-old Cariganan vines from a single vineyard of limestone and clay. This is the top wine of the estate and the most age-worthy.

    In 1985, upon receiving his degree in viticulture and oenology, Olivier Jullien returned home to find an underwhelming state of wine production in the Languedoc. Heavy crop loads and commercial farming had led to wines that had no signature of place or authenticity. He began revitalizing his family's vineyards, and purchasing choice parcels in the surrounding hillsides. No longer were his family's grapes sold to the local cooperative. Olivier, at just 20 years old, would vinify and age his family's wines with a sense of purpose in highlighting the best his appellation, Terrasses du Larzac, has to offer.

    At 3,000 foot elevation and 25 miles north of the Mediterranean, this personifies the more elegant and aromatic side of what the Langeudoc is all about. The soils are a total amalgamation between Olivier's parcels with limestone, clay, schist (decomposed granite), and gravel being dominant in each unique parcel.

    The blend of Carignan, Syrah, and Mourvèdre all work to provide complementary pieces. The Carignan for freshness. Syrah for inky color and body. Mourvèdre for its structure. Partial whole cluster fermentation is used to add spice and freshness, and large barrels are used for aging to preserve tension. Bright cherry, red plums, violets, and sweet brown spices all meld together with perfect harmony here.

    2010 Mas Jullien Terrasses du Larzac Rouge
    $48 per bottle

    Posted by Max Kogod