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Vin de Table "Plus noir que rouge", Domaine Les Sabots d'Helene 2013


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Without "junk" is how vigneron Alban Michel of the domaine Les Sabots d'Helene in Corbieres simply describes how he made this special cuvee from 85 year-old Carignan vines.

Alban Michel, along with his partner and muse, Helene, started Les Sabots d'Helene (after the famous George Brassens folk song) in 2005 in the small village of Feuilla near Fitou. Aside from Alban, there is only one other vigneron in the village. Coming from Alsace, he was attracted to the area because of the fine old vines, the mild climate that makes organic and biodynamic farming easy, and the cheap prices of land. He thought the locals were totally missing out. This is true. Southern France right now is the hotbed for some of the most talented and enterprising young vignerons/vigneronnes in France, particularly those with a love for crafting natural wines like Alban. It's the same opportunity that opens up in depressed urban areas where rent is cheap; soon the artists, creative restaurateurs, boutique shops, and yes, even wine merchants, flock.

Alban's vineyard is 4.5 hectares (nearly 12 acres) on a high elevation of the hills of Corbieres. The size is just enough for him and Helene to do everything their way. The vines are mostly Carignan that they farm organically and biodynamically. The "Pluse noir que rouge" cuvee is from the oldest Carignan vines--around 85 years-old. Vinified without any sulfites or additives. Pressed in an old vertical press, aged in used barrels for, and bottled unfined and unfiltred. 14.5% alcohol It has the delicious warmth and power of a Southern France wine, with its black fruits, earthy spice, and garrigue. But through the density a freshness and elegance permeate, making the flavors vivid and juicy, and marvelously delicious.

Only about 600 bottles, or a mere 50 cases, could be produced from a miniscule 8 hl/ha. A rare wine for sure, but at less than $30 it's a terrific buy. How can you not love this wine!