ALAIN CHABANON, Lagamas Organic
Alain Chabanon studied viticulture and worked with Alain Brumont (Madiran) and Comte Peraldi (Corsica). In the late 1980’s he came back home, near Montpeyroux in the Languedoc and bought a few hectares of vineyards.
“The early years were hard, my cellar primitive, the work back breaking. With next to no help, I had to do almost everything. Planting, pruning, harvesting, wine making, sales… but it was all worth it when in 1995, Gault Millau placed my red wines at the top of their Languedoc tasting”
Today, Alain owns 20 hectares in the villages of St-Saturnin, Lagamas and Montpeyroux. In Alain own words:
“It’s ideal vine-growing land: arid, stony clay and limestone soil at the foothills of the Cevennes mountain range below the Larzac plateau. The climate is great too: cold in the winter, warm in the spring and autumn, with hot summers bringing the grapes to full maturity in peak condition.
There’s usually enough rain to keep up the water table levels, but the vines have to send their roots deep down for moisture, an effort that’s great exercise: it helps them stay strong and healthy.
Some people grumble about the winds; I don’t: the dry north-west Tramontane is splendid for blowing clean fresh air through the vines, discouraging mildew and rot and helping produce a crop of healthy grapes. From the south and south-east, the Autan brings welcome cooling marine winds and rainfall which helps refresh the vines – particularly the young ones which can suffer in years when the heat is a touch strong”
Le Merle aux Alouettes comes from very low-yielding Merlot (27hl/ha), with a long maceration followed by 24 months in barrique. Deep, vivid red colour. Distinctively southern, rich, spicy, dusty nose. Quite a chunky, spicy palate with rich fruit and dusty tannins. Very rich and savoury