Visit to Vignerons Laudun Chusclan, with Eric Sigmann, Sommelier

Our first visit on Monday 23rd April in the Southern Rhone started at this cooperative covering the 2 Appellations Laudun, and Chusclan, just Northwest of Avignon, a great introduction to big and bold wines on a packed 3 days. Keeping this short and simple, here are a few figures:

  • They represent 217 growers, covering about 3000 Ha, producing 150,000 Hl of wine, 7% of whom are certified organic. This is 85% of the Laudun Appellation, and 90% of Chusclan, so if you come across any of these it is likely to have been produced by them.
  • 3M of their 25M Euro is through their cellar door shops, which is a pretty impressive statistic, I feel.
  • Taking note of the fact that today, consumption of wine per person per year in France is down to 30L, they still sell the largest part of their wine in France, but now export, in order of magnitude, to Belgium, Germany, the UK, and others, and are making a push on the Far East and the USA. For comparison, in the 80s, French wine consumption was 130L pppy; could this be in part due to the fact that I lived in France at that time?

Another winery with a museum, and I don’t mean the 1930s concrete ‘cuves’ in the old cuverie. Also included were some old agricultural equipment, and an ancient tractor.

I think the quality and freshness of Grenache Blanc has been undervalued, and this grape is helping drive the new focus on whites that is being made in the region; we tasted two delightful whites:

Cotes du Rhone Villages Laudun 2017, with 70% Grenache Blanc, 20% Viognier, 10% Roussanne. This had lovely ripe peach aromas, pithy acidity and great texture, as did Cuvée Excellence CDR Villages Laudun 2016, with less Grenache, but higher acidity.

Reds were big. All were Grenache dominated, with varying amounts of Syrah, and the others Rhone options. None had less than 14.5% alcohol, most were 15%, and the Terra Vitae Laudun (their organic range) admitted to 15.5%, which limits its commercial potential in the UK. All showed the spicy dense ripe mixed fruit we expect from these wines.

Terra Vitae CDR 2016 had hints of fresh aniseed, it’s 25% Syrah showing strongly, and balancing the 15% alcohol.

CDR Villages Laudun Les Dolia 2016 ‘Esprit de Terroir’ comes from their best plots

CDR Villages Chusclan ‘Les Genets’ 2016 is also called Cinq Cépages: 65% Grenache, then Syrah, Carignan, Mourvedre, Cinsault.

Terra Vitae CDR Villages Laudun 2017 finished the tasting with its spirity 15.5% alcohol showing, but lots of southern warmth.

This is a large cooperative making very good quality wines, carefully crafted to meet the desires of their markets, with a lot of history, and great expertise; a great way to start a ‘Real Wine’ trip. This visit took place exclusively at the winery, so was poor in pictures; it is typical of me, though, that the only usable picture I bring from a CDR winery visit is one of a tractor!



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