The most productive zone in southern France is made up of the twin regions of Languedoc-Roussillon. The statistics are impressive; it is the world's largest wine region, with approximately 250,000 hectares under vine, constituting one third of France's total plantings. The Languedoc-Roussillon region stretches from Provence along the Mediterranean coastline to the Spanish border. Arguably, also France’s oldest wine region, ancient Greeks and Romans planted vineyards in Languedoc that were prized by kings and popes. Administratively joined with the Roussillon region, they are quite distinct with Languedoc's finest wines grown in the higher, cooler vineyards located in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
In 2012, Aymeric and Jordan Amiel took over 9 hectares of their family’s 15 hectare estate located in Montblanc in the Hérault (70 km west of Montpellier, near Pezenas) and created their own cellar. The brothers 30 and 34 years are the 14th generation of peasants since 1605 to grow grapes and produce wine in the area.
Domaines des Amiel produces miniscule quantities (total production 3000 cases) of organic, biodynamic, natural wines whose philosophy is to try to make wine, as natural, as possible and reflect the vineyards’ terroir. All work in the vineyards is done by hand and theirs’ is true natural winemaking, as no additives, sulfites, enzymes, yeast; nothing is added to the winemaking process. Biodynamic farming brings life to the soils and environment but also brings more acidity in the grapes. The yields from the, on average, 30 year old vines are very low which leads to concentrated fruit flavors and structure. Hand-picked in small 10kg cases, the grapes are directly sorted in the vineyards.
On the vine itself, clusters hang, as “airy” as possible, in order to benefit from the effects of the sun, heat and wind, avoiding rot, assuring healthy, high quality grapes. For bio-diversity, the vineyards are naturally grassed and flowered most of the year. For this reason, the soils are worked between the vines but not between the rows.
Domaines des Amiel features two lines of wines, the best of which is their “heritage” line. The heritage range of wines are labeled with the name of one of the family’s fore bearers. The A Peissou (little fish) is named after great grandfather Elisha who played the clarinet, which is featured on the label. The A Yvonne, also in the heritage line is a tribute to the Amiel brother’s, grandmother who is still active and cooking for her grandchildren, hence the cooking pot on the label.
Deeply colored with dark purple hues, the intense nose offers rich aromas of ripe red fruits, cherries, violet flowers with complex layers of spices. On the palate, the wine is elegant and beautifully balanced with concentrated, juicy flavors that echo the nose. The A Peissou is full-bodied and firmly structured with smooth, integrated tannins, lots of spicy intensity and impressive length. A brilliant example of Languedoc terroir.
Total production: 600 cases
Produced from extremely low yields (15-25 hl/ha) and in miniscule quantities, in the glass, A Yvonne reveals a bright, yellow color with gold reflections. The bouquet offers gently, floral scents of ripe fruit, lemon balm and notes of wild thyme and fennel, all with great, aromatic complexity. Rich and creamy on the palate, A Yvonne displays lively flavors that echo the nose, great texture and a taut, minerality with suggestions of salinity. A Yvonne is a highly bred, singular expression of Vermentino/Grenache in the Languedoc region.
Total production: 50 cases