2020 Ludovic Engelvin, Gard IGP Rouge “Clausus” Languedoc, France.
One of the under the radar discoveries of the last year, winemaker Ludovic Engelvin, who crafted this pure and outstanding 100% Grenache “Clausus” red, a wine that has serious depth of fruit, but with delicacy and finesse of some of the modern Sierra de Gredos Garnachas, that are benchmarks for the varietal these days, with beautiful aromatics, spice, earth and layers of smooth red berry led flavors. As I noted in the previous reviews, Ludovic was mentored by Didier Barral, one of the regions stars, also imported by Kermit Lynch, whom he befriended during his sommelier days, according to Kermit, and remains close to still, and that time cemented his belief in low-impact farming and natural winemaking, which he has obviously put to good use. Engelvin is working towards biodynamics and zero additives, except for a very minimal amount of sulfur, he uses, as he notes, no mechanical intervention in vineyards so as not to compact soils and lets sheep do the grass and weed trimming. This Clausus has bright intensity with a bouquet of crushed lilacs, wild fennel and earthy macerated raspberry that leads to a medium/full palate of boysenberry, plum, Bing cherry and dusty red currant fruits as well as garrigue, gravelly stone, pepper and blood orange accents. This, no wood, Clausus was selected from a single parcel of organic vines set on grey marl, clay and limestone soils and was aged close to a year in tank, to promote freshness and transparency. I got a brief chance to meet Ludovic at the Kermit Lynch 50th Anniversary Portfolio Tasting in San Francisco and was impressed by his lineup of Languedoc wines.

Young vigneron Ludovic Engelvin, as mentioned in my prior reviews, who has traveled far and wide even at such a young age and even worked with the legendary Didier Dagueneau in Pouilly-Fume, makes his wines in the village of Vic-le-Fesq, an almost unknown place between the Pic Saint Loup and Tavel regions, an area known as the Languedoc Gardois. Discovered by Kermit Lynch Imports, who are some of the world’s best talent scouts, Engelvin has just released his first set of wines, which I have tasted, all made with organic grapes and crafted to promote purity and terroir, he doesn’t yet use any oak, preferring to use stainless steel and fiberglass vats, as employed here with this 100% Grenache Gard Rouge. To make his wines, which are fermented with all natural or native yeasts and gently crushed without de-stemming, Ludovic does not do rigorous macerations, he has a light touch with his wine looking for nuance and allowing the terroir to lead the flavor in bottle. I understand, Ludovic is going to release a more powerful 50% Mourvèdre and 50% Grenache, that was aged in wood, which I look forward to trying in the future, as well. This part of the Languedoc has lots of history in wine, though mostly forgotten in modern times, but as Kermit explains, the Languedoc Gardois has long been a viticultural hotspot: the Romans, who made the nearby city of Nîmes an important hub, established a thriving winemaking industry here centuries ago. It’s these new generation winegrowers, like Ludovic, who are bringing these places back to our attention.I was captivated with Ludovic’s Cinsault based “Cru-elles” Vin de France, as well as his unique no sulfur 100% Mourvèdre “Oasis” Rosé and this “Clausus” red, all of which I recommend.
($49 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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