Portraits Vignerons - Les vendanges ? Notre raison de vivre - Les Grappes

"The harvest? Our reason for living! »

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.

The career of Jean-Marc Lafage, winemaker at Domaine Lafage

In the rural world of the 1970s, the boys were soon involved in outdoor work. Dad was a winegrower, logically, I followed him to the vineyard. We were then in Maury and we had a plot of very old vines situated on a magnificent and 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, in the rhythm of the man, that I met both my father and my first passion: the vine. I then met my wife Eliane on the benches of our school of oenology, then the desire to travel animated us. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Spain... As many countries as enriching experiences.

The confidences of Jean-Marc Lafage from Domaine Lafage

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've had the chance to make all kinds of wine from 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 is a little bit our reason to live, the excitement of the new vintage, the first juices in the cellar... Ours are spread over almost two months.

Domaine Lafage wines served at the Elysée Palace

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... What pride! Especially outside our department, I like the idea of making the French epicureans rediscover Roussillon. We remain impatient to know how consumers will receive our productions of this new vintage.

The Roussillon: a mosaic of terroirs

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 these, we have chosen three, as a field of expression, which we feel are best suited to the profile of the wines we want to offer:

By going up the river and the valley of the Agly, the Catalan vineyard takes height. For ages, it has been rooted in black marl and leafy schist swept by the strong north winds, and here we come to seek the opulence and authenticity of traditional Catalan grape varieties.

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 catch 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 background of invigorating sea spray.

The elegance of the tradition of the Vignon. Planted in terraces following the contour lines, this vineyard, partly goblet driven, 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 hot climate, vibrates with intensity.

The influence of travel on the vines of Domaine Lafage

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 geographical position of the vines of the Lafage Estate, in the Roussillon region of France

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 indifferent.

Find the wines of the Lafage estate on Les Grappes

Loïc Tanguy (Les Grappes)

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