Loïc Roure acquired 6½ hectares of vines (16 acres) while taking over the abandoned co-op winery building in Lansac back in 2003, which needed a thorough clean-up and refit with new equipment and now also houses a top-floor apartment and art studio. The first plots he found were/are in Latour-de-France followed by a few more in neighbouring Rasiguères, Bélesta, Cassagnes and Lesquerde; and another four ha were purchased more recently in Caudiès-de-Fenouillèdes a dozen kilometres to the wild west on the Aude 'frontier'. Which must be a handful to manage spread out over a fairly wide area, and especially perhaps since these vineyards have been certified organic since 2007. The varietal breakdown is 4.5 ha of Carignan (some over 100 years old), 2.6 ha Grenache, 1.3 ha Syrah and some Mourvèdre too; and for whites (coming to just one ha although averaging 50+ years), mostly Macabeu with a little Carignan gris, Grenache blanc and Grenache gris.
Loïc's background is both atypical and typical, in the sense of how some young winegrowers who've settled in the Roussillon over the past five to ten years don't have the 'classic' wine industry CV. After a long stint at Amnesty International in Lyon, he decided he'd like to open a wine bar so started by working in a restaurant, which led him to doing a sommelier course including a work-placement at Thierry Allemand's winery in Cornas (northern Rhone Valley), which convinced him this was what he really wanted to do. Jump forwards through time to those aforementioned treasured vine parcels and disused cellar in deepest Fenouillèdes country, where he was also “inspired by Cyril Fhal (Clos du Rouge Gorge) and Jean Louis Tribouley(both in Latour-de-France),” who'd established their own estates just before he did.
Loïc's views on a 'natural' approach to vineyards and winemaking seem level-headed enough. He says he was “more militant about this (not using 'chemicals') in the beginning,” and being “completely opposed to using any sulphur. But you evolve: I wanted to make wine, and I wanted it to be good! So now I use a bit of sulphur if I have to... The more experienced you are, the better you get at things... I've become less of a fundamentalist but also have got better at using less sulphur!” If SO2 is added at bottling, he uses less than 10mg/l for reds and 20mg for the white (which is in-line with other 'naturalists', about less than 10% of what is/was traditionally used). He applies certain plant-based preparations as well, claiming to be “very open minded in experimenting in the vines... I like the idea of biodynamics but in no way claim to be part of it.”
Loïc prefers to label his wines as Côtes du Roussillon, as he believes it fits them, and the area he finds himself in, better than the 'Cotes Catalanes' designation for example. Their names show a friendly play on words, such as the Franco-Shakespearean 'Tout Bu or Not Tout Bu' (ho ho). I met him at last year's Real Wine Fair in London, where his wines are sold by Roberson Wine (prices cited below in £: photo above from www.robersonwine.com/blog). And Louis/Dressner Selections is his New York City agent (see louisdressner.comwhere I borrowed a few choice quotes from an interview with him). Our tasting paths also crossed back in 2005, on my first proper visit to the Fenouillèdes wine-lands when I tried what must have been his first or second vintage, a vat sample of the pretty decent and wild fruity 2004. To go and see Loïc at the winery: the address is the same as Edouard Laffitte below; phone 04 68 92 52 78 and email@example.com.
2010 Cours Toujours white (Macabeu, Carignan gris) – appley nutty and intense nose, creamier more rounded palate with lovely hazelnut flavours vs crisp mineral bite. £16.95
2011 Le Fruit du Hasard (Carignan and Syrah from Caudiès) – lively spicy fruity Nouveau-styled red, tasty quaffer with a bit of length and depth too. £14.95
2011 Tout Bu or Not Tout Bu (“mostly Syrah I buy from friends...”) - minty dark cherry, more structured and powerful wine with delicious fruit and length. £14.95, €10 (France on-line).
2011 C'est Pas La Mer à Boire (majority Grenache + Syrah, Carignan) – juicy spicy berry with liquorice, fuller punchier style with smoky rich fruit vs tight and firm; nice wine, needs food. £17.95
2011 L'Herbe Tendre Pet Nat rosé (Grenache & Syrah, lightly sparkling from second fermentation in bottle without being disgorged = it's cloudy too!) - delicious light red fruits with intense yeasty/toasty flavours and crisp lively finish. Different! £13.80, €11
2011 Charivari (Carignan) – quite rustic nose but has lively berry fruit too lending a little bite, a tad 'soupy' and rustic but it just about works. £12.50, €11.50
2010 Couma Acò (mostly Syrah) – light coconut flavour and texture underlined by lush dark fruit with smoky edges, powerful grippier and more 'serious' finish.
2004 Domaine du Possible (vat sample) - Pretty forward on the nose showing ripe and rustic liquorice fruit, nice grip and length on the palate. From my first trip to Fenouillèdes country in 2005 (link goes to report on that)...