Jean-Marc Lafage's wines are served at the Elysée! A pride for this winegrower who has the vine in his blood. First behind his father who vinified in Maury on steep plots of land, then at the head of his estate, nestled in the Pyrénées Orientales, Jean-Marc the oenologist has proved his talent. It is with the passion of a winegrower who loves his job that he answers our questions.
In the rural world of the 1970s, boys quickly became involved in outdoor work. Dad was a winemaker, so logically, I followed him to the vineyard. We were in Maury at the time and we had a plot of very old vines situated on a magnificent, extremely steep terroir. No mechanisation was possible: everything was done by hand and the magnificent grapes produced were the first I was allowed to vinify alone. It was here, in the silence, at the rhythm of man, that I met both my father and my first passion: the vine. I then met my wife Eliane on the benches of our oenology school, then the desire to travel animated us. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Spain... So many countries and so many enriching experiences.
If I had to choose a wine, I would choose La Cuvée Nicolas 100% Grenache Noir naturally. Because I am a great lover of "Grenache", this grape variety remains my favourite. I have been lucky enough to vinify all kinds of it, and all over the world. But the Aspres is a truly exceptional terroir!
Like all winegrowers on earth I think, my favourite time of the year is still the harvest! It's a bit our reason for living, the excitement of the new vintage, the first juices in the cellar... Ours are spread over almost two months.
Even if no one is a prophet in his own country, not distributing our wines in France, at home, remained a great frustration. We have been working on this for three years now, with the help of our Sales Director, Jérémy Gaudineau. The results are extremely encouraging... And when I find my wines on a restaurant's wine list, I am the first to be flattered. But the day I learned that our wines were served at the Elysée Palace... What pride! Especially outside our department, I like the idea of making French epicureans rediscover Roussillon. We are still eager to see how consumers will receive our products from this new vintage.
One parcel was sold in the heart of the Aspres: Le Vignon. The opportunity for my wife and I to build a new project... at home. The Roussillon is first of all a mosaic of terroirs. Among them, we have chosen three, as a field of expression, which seem to us the best adapted to the profile of the wines we want to offer:
The Agly valley, the authenticity of the Cathar lands...
Going up the river and the Agly valley, the Catalan vineyard gets higher. For ages, it has been rooted on black marls and leafy schists swept by strong north winds. We come here to seek the opulence and authenticity of the traditional Catalan grape varieties.
Perpignan-Mediterranean, pebbles and sea breezes...
It is the freshness of the seaside that we are looking for, for our vines planted on terraces of ancient quaternary pebbles. They try to capture the capricious sea breezes. At the end of the afternoon, the small cloud cover stretching along the coast brings a salty note to the vineyard, against a backdrop of invigorating sea spray.
The Aspres, already the effects of altitude...
The elegance of the Vignon tradition. Planted in terraces following the contour lines, this vineyard, partly goblet shaped, languidly marries the rotundity of the Pyrenean bas-reliefs. Delivered without docility to the strong gusts of overheated tramontanes of the hot summer lands, this terroir located at 400 meters of altitude, with a warm climate, vibrates with intensity.
What did I learn on my travels abroad? To speak English? More seriously, I learned the different facets of our profession, but above all to bring out the freshness of each grape variety, even in the hottest countries. Very useful when your vines live in the Pyrénées-Orientales.
The fact that the estate is located near the sea brings freshness to our vines. The sea breeze has a real influence on the grapes. Especially for the whites and rosés. This iodized and salty side does not leave one indifferent.
Loïc Tanguy (Les Grappes)