2020 Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge, Les Baux de Provence AOP, France (750ml)

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If we are going to talk seriously about “natural” wines, then we will have to include Mas de Gourgonnier in the conversation. Back in the 1970s, this family estate, located in the heart of Provence, was one of the first officially certified organic wineries. Back then such an idea was seen as fiscally foolish for winegrowers if they actually wanted to make a living. However, Mas de Gourgonnier’s organic roots go back even further. Since the eighteenth century, the Cartier family has worked these fields, providing the local abbey with freshly grown fruits, vegetables and grain; but it wasn’t until in the 1950s that they planted their first vines. The rest is history. Mas de Gourgonnier doesn’t have to “sell” a natural philosophy; it’s simply who they are, and who they’ve always been. This purity of focus and flavor is still true today, under the winemaking of Luc Cartier and his daughter, Eve.

The estate vineyards are basically a mini paradise, surrounded by pine trees and garrigue in the commune of Mouriès—just south of the granite Alpilles Mountains. The savory aromas of flowering rosemary, wild sage and juniper and the freshness of the cooling mistral winds are all echoed in the Mas de Gourgonnier wines. The soil here is a mix of decomposed granite and limestone, and is very rocky and dry. The estate makes its own compost (from cow/sheep manure) and plows between vineyard rows; they also plant beneficial herbs to control pests and moderate vine growth.

The grapes are harvested by hand in the early morning hours or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler, and are fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks. Very little to no sulfur is added during the fermentation process. This bottling is a blend of 50% Grenache, 24% Syrah and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon—sourced from 20-30-year-old vines, and was aged in a combination of stainless-steel tanks and older French casks. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered, in a “Normandy” or Calvados bottle, which was originally used by Luc Cartier’s father for the family’s first wines in the 1950s. 

Dark garnet. Aromas of blueberries, bramble fruit and spice. The palate shows dusty black fruits and dark cherry, with notes of tobacco, leather, lavender and herbes de Provence.

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