Le Loup Blanc, VdF, Le Regal du Loup 2009

I prepared the basis for this entry not soon after the Cellier des Cray and Chateau des Annereaux entries, so it's been about two months since I meant to transcribe this over to a painting. But the holidays hit and looking back at the sketch feel it communicates exactly what's necessary. So I apologize for a rather short and brusque entry. Perhaps if I come across another bottle I'll plan to elaborate into a final painting.

I feel like no matter how long it's been since one has worked in retail, or perhaps even in a restaurant setting - I've spared many the experience - there are always bottles that catch your fancy due to label, varietal, the hype or simply catch your mood at the time. Usually what outweighs whether one decides to pick up this mystery bottle or not is the price, followed by other competing bottles that have popped out at you from the shelves with equal allure. I know very well that these are the reasons why because just when I thought I was smitten with maybe picking up this bottle or another from the same producer, I was pulled away by another that struck my fancy and my wallet at the time. 

For some reason the Le Loup Blanc labels have always remained somewhere at the back of my thoughts, between their fun script that looks like it could have been done using a Chinese calligraphy brush to their semi-matte appearance that seem almost like stickers with twenty years of age and having a history of being re-stickered onto different pages of your sticker book, the edges a little blunted and worn with the rest of your fuzzy animal collection, and then the big paw print. Perhaps some of this allure I speak of and vaguely recall is the talk of these wines being made naturally and being quite the fad at the time - this is some eight years ago I would gander when the wave of naturally made and biodynamic wines was really gaining traction with consumers, without sulfites, minimal intervention and all the mystery of these trail blazers... 

...strange bedfellows...

...strange bedfellows...

The Le Loup Blanc winery is located in Minervois, so named after the Greek goddess Minerva by the Greeks and hearkening back to it's pre-Roman wine growing history, and is situated approximately in the middle of the Languedoc-Roussillon. From what I can gather, the winery was founded by Alain Rochard and Laurent Farre in Bize-Minervois in 1993 and they have been practicing organic farming since 2005, becoming certified two years later only to maintain a more biodynamic slant to their farming and beliefs. They produce a variety of grapes like Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Tempranillo, Alicante and a few others. Many of these varietals reflect the area's past ties with Spain as it was once part of or heavily influenced by Catalunya. 

...But then I never picked up a bottle and don't recall tasting any of their wines. I never went out of my way to hunt any of their wines out and so when I found the Le Regal du Loup on sale at Astor Place Wines for around fifteen dollars I scooped it up; the void created by all the hype and allure would now be filled. It's taken me months to get around to opening this wine from the Minervois...

...Well what can I say, I wasn't entirely blown away. This wine felt like someone was scraping around a handful of dark robust berried fruit, dried pith and all, with singed pine and then trying to smooth it out with a rolling pin. In a strange way I was enjoying the disjointedness - when differing pitches erupt from a wine they tend to be much better teachers in terms of recognizing slight cues as to if the wine is sound or making the turn and in doing so the experience often leads to a slightly varied representation based on these askew chemical interactions. No wine is ever in perfect balance - if there is such a thing- but sometimes you find yourself confronted with a wine that might be slightly off or just showing variation and the challenge then becomes how to tease apart the nuances, the different interactions against which the parts are playing against and how they come to be represented differently. I've not gone out of my way to explore this, it's albeit pretty hard to have or even hold onto say three bottles, hope they're different enough (can you imagine a taster counting on a bottle being varied or off for the sake of the experience?), and read them at different points in their lifespan that will then read significantly different enough on paper. In part my job helps learn individual wines at say three different times over the course of a month, but then I don't have the time to be wax poetic. Not every wine will be as we remember it when it first enchanted us, it doubtfully ever will be again - wine is as transient as anything else we come across and that's part of the fun; it's constant changing nature that makes it so exciting and why these moments of bottle variation reveal something akin to catching one off-guard. Perhaps this is a subject for a future entry... 

But I digress: throughout the lifespan of the bottle I was catching myself intrigued on how this wine came together or the motivations for its style that seem slyly maneuvered while never quite loosing this edginess; it's as if it were caught in between decisions, wavering between a waft of acrid acidity at its edges to then be quickly followed up by undertones of gritty berried fruit and baked earth. Some of these notes weren't all positive as it bounced back and forth over the course of three days, the sense of warmth certainly inherent but the rest, trying to get past this astringent or volatile exterior to the charm beneath - it was teasing - proved tasking. I know the wines from Languedoc-Roussillon to be powerful wines, full of dark earth and fruit, full of this rough nature that reflects the variegated terrain (garrigue) which turns charming and endearing but this one didn't seem to pluck any of those chords. 

I can't say the bottle was entirely off nor blatantly corked, but bottle variation does happen and perhaps I just got the weird one. 

 

http://www.vignobleduloupblanc.com/index.php/fr/les-vins

http://www.jennyandfrancois.com/wines/france/loup-blanc/