Jean-Luc and Martine Quinquarlet are a hard working couple with regular 9 to 5 jobs who also happen to run a wine domaine in the Languedoc region of southern France. Actually, Martine just recently retired from her decade’s long career working for the French Postal Service but Jean-Luc still works at his dentistry practice. Living 30 kilometers west of Montpellier, they had always been drawn to viticulture and worked on the side for the local wine co-op over many years until 2002, when they established Domaine de Familongue. Situated in the heart of the Herault Valley, they began with only 4 hectares and have expanded to a total of 25 today which are planted primarily to Carignan and Cinsault along with Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Jean-Luc manages the vineyard as naturally as possible without chemical fertilizers or herbicides and uses a special compost he created with Marc (the local pomace brandy), hay and horse manure. Harvesting is done by hand and Jean-Luc maintains a similarly natural approach in the cellar, yet he would never claim to make 'natural' wines. The Quinquarlets are avid enthusiasts of aviculture, keeping and breeding birds which is why birds are the emblem of the winery and appear on the labels.
They also name their flagship wine after the flying action of birds with 'L'Envol' meaning 'takeoff for flight'. This 2015 L'Envol de Familongue is a blend of 65% Grenache, 22% Carignan, 10% Syrah and 3% Mourvèdre that was fermented and aged in stainless steel tank. As Jean-Luc explains, "in order to obtain more supple and balanced wines, our tanks are composed of 25% whole grapes. 'Macération pelliculaire' or allowing contact between the skins and the free-run juice (juice that is obtained without pressing) is carried out at low temperature to allow for supple tannins." It also brings out a more naturally fruity character which this certainly has in spades! Like one might expect with a red wine from the south of France, the nose has a nice 'garrigue' quality to it with dried floral and herbal aromas as well as a subtle peppery spice and scents of blueberries and dark raspberries. The medium-bodied palate feels light on its feet with more savory, herbal notes and an essence of blueberry as well as dark red plum skin. As intended, the tannins are supple and nicely integrated on the dry finish which ends with a soft hit of that peppery spice. Easily drinkable on its own, it would also be delicious paired with Herbes de Provence-dusted pork, lamb or chicken.