Portraits Vignerons - Je milite pour les cépages rares et oubliés - Les Grappes

"I'm a campaigner for rare and forgotten grape varieties."

Updated on December 14, 2022

Diary #2: I was the archetypal overbooked urban girl. I left the TV sets to become a winemaker: the choice of a lifetime.

I don't regret having embarked on this adventure!

Marc and Laetitia

Enthusiasm certainly, but also a good dose of stress, a bit of fatigue, a zest of overwork... In short, the archetype of the overbooked urban girl. This is what you would have said to yourself if you had met me a few years ago!

The enthusiasm is still there. As for the rest, my life changed last year when I decided to take over my family's wine estate in the Southern Alps. I might as well tell you right now: I don't regret having embarked on this adventure!

This domain is eleven hectares of vineyards and a particularity: it grows on our hillsides a rare and forgotten grape variety of the Alpine Arc:le mollard(literally "small mountain"). My father fought for 15 years with the help of the French Institute of the Vine to rehabilitate it.

Mollard is the emblematic red grape variety of the Hautes-Alpes

Mollard is the emblematic red grape variety of the Hautes-Alpes. It is an integral part of the history of the vine in our valleys. It is well adapted to the altitude and the mountain soil. The vintages that are made from it givered wines light and fruity wines that do not exceed 12 degrees of alcohol. Their color is intense ruby. Their nose, spicy and slightly peppery, is characteristic of the variety.

However, in the 80's, many winegrowers decided to uproot it to replace it with international grape varieties such as cabernet or syrah and thus please a wide range of consumers.

Plots of Mollard remained in the Hautes-Alpes, but due to a lack of renewal, their sanitary state deteriorated and the variety was threatened with extinction.

At the beginning of the 90's, aware of the potential of this grape variety and concerned about preserving biodiversity, Marc, my father, started an experiment to save the mollard. He was a pioneer at the time, and few winegrowers would bet on his success!

He patiently selected the healthiest and most vigorous plants in the Haute-Alpes vineyards. After 10 years of study, two of these plants were finally chosen to be preserved and reproduced in order to relaunch the production of mollard. At the beginning of the years 2000, a "mother vine" is planted and maintained by the German domain.

The adventure is long and costly

The adventure is long and costly, but Marc's work eventually pays off. In 2005, Mollard was officially listed in the French catalog of grape varieties. A great reward for the winemaker and the institutions that supported him!

This work of safeguarding has made me aware of the incredible richness of our terroirs... Everywhere in France, winegrowers are fighting for the diversity of aromas and pleasures against the standardization and uniformity of tastes!

Find my wines on Les Grappes

Laetitia Allemand, winemaker of the Domaine Allemand

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