2020 Ludovic Engelvin, Cru-elles, Cinsault/Grenache, Vin de France Rouge, Languedoc, France.
While at the Kermit Lynch 50th Anniversary Portfolio Tasting in San Francisco recently, while fighting through the crowds to get a chance to taste some of the world’s most cherished and sought after wines, like those of Raveneau and Vieux Telegraphe. I was surprised to find a quiet young winemaker, who shyly was presenting his wines at a tucked away table, but who’s wines shown brightly and with inner grace not often found in the Languedoc, these were impressive wines. My French is a non starter, so I wasn’t able to express my admiration to the fullest, but I really loved Ludovic Engelvin’s offerings, in particular his ruby hued Cinsault based “Cru-elles” Vin de France Rouge with energy filled personality, lighter framed, red fruited palate and spicy fresh detailing, absolutely delicious. The bouquet is lightly floral and stony on this Cru-elles with a mouth of crushed strawberries, tangy plums, red currants and cherries, along with mineral tones, a hint of savory earth, sagey/lavender and a touch of anise, all delivered with a lift of acidity and satiny tannins. This wine comes from 40 year old vines, 70% Cinsault and 30% Grenache, grown on clay, limestone and sandstone soils which are all lovingly hand tended with holistic methods. 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. I understand, Ludovic is going to release a more powerful 50% Mourvèdre and 50% Grenache, aged in wood, which I look forward to trying in the future, as well.

Young vigneron Ludovic Engelvin, 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, 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 in his Cru-elles Vin de France Rouge. 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 the attention of the wine world, and this new set of wines he’s crafted are beauties, I was captivated with this one, as well as Engelvin’s unique no sulfur 100% Mourvèdre “Oasis” Rosé and his 100% Grenache “Clausus” red, a wine that has the depth, but with delicacy and finesse of some of the modern Sierra de Gredos Garnachas. 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. This Cru-elles saw just 15 days of skin maceration and fermentation before lightly pressed to a combination of tank and glass fibre vat for an aging period of only 6 months before bottling, with excellent and quaffable results, if you love Cinsault, you’ll want to chase this one down! The Kermit Lynch celebration was a huge event and I was grateful to get an invite, especially after getting the chance to discover some lesser known gems, and Ludovic’s label is one to follow.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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