I don't underline enough how the vineyard and the soils are alive in most of the artisanal wine farms profiled here. At Jo Landron's ike at Clos Roche Blanche and Noëlla Morantin, the inter-rows here are full of edible treats, like this lamb's lettuce. It takes years of careful vineyard management to have an undersoil buzzing with microbial life, worms and insects, and the result is a happier vine living side by side with many varieties despised as weeds by conventional growers. By the way, it's funny to note that the one thing that mainstream growers find very difficult to stand when they look at an organicly-managed vineyard is its disorderly look : they only see the surface of things and consider their own plots as clean, neat and square, while they view the non-chemicals ones as unkept, dirty and anarchic. For a farmer not to be aware of the life-soil role for what he grows is quite unsettling, it's quite childish but also a widely-shared human trait I guess. Of course, this mindset doesnt stop in the vineyard, and the well-ordered vineyard will yield samely clean, neat and square wines with all the range of corrective additives designed for that effect by the enology labs. The anarchic life of the soil is a sign of its good health, and these vegetables taste good : Laurent Saillard, a New-York chef turned vigneron over the last few years, can almost prepare your lunch with the delicacies he picks in the vineyard, among them lamb's lettuce, onions, leeks and garlic. I experienced his talent myself and after that you can't look at a messy vineyard the same way...
You can't miss Jo Landron in a tasting, he's the guy with the long moustache, the other guy who also sports an outstanding mouth brow is Philippe Chatillon of Domaine de la Pinte in Jura, also a passionated vigneron.
My own awakening bottle of Jo Landron was a Fief du Breil that I tasted a few years ago at the Salon des Vignerons in Paris (every november). The wine was so mineral, you felt like you were sipping stones, and I bought a few bottles with the intention to forget them a few years in my wine fridge and let the wine grow...
The pic above was shot on Les Houx, a vineyard yielding the grapes of the cuvée La Hermine D'Or. The soil is thick with hard sandstones and other gravels and quartz, the latter giving the smoky, flintstone side in the aromatic range. Many missing vines on this plot, because of old age (70 years or more) and tractor mishandling. They replace the vines progressively to keep this vineyard going. Speaking of these sandstones, Jo Landron points to their round shapes which hint that these stones were still soft when they touched the ground : these could be volcanic projectiles which landed here after an eruption. Otherwise this hill is known to be mostly made of wind sediments. What Jo Landron says then is very interesting : he points to the fact that in additionto gravel and sandstone, the soil is clay, which resulted from an alteration of orthogneiss, orthogneiss being still there but deeper in the soil. Jo Landron adds that with this clay/alterite which is rich in iron, this terroir would actually be better for red wines than for white wines. But this is a Muscadet AOC vineyard and there's no red Muscadet to begin with, so it's not possible to see what a red variety would yield on this soil. The terroir translates into a strong body wines which can age very long. The increased the surface last year with new plantings.
__ Domaines Landron cuvée Domaine, the only cuvée resulting from a blend, the other being single-vineyard cuvées. Soil here is clay/sand. They make several bottlings along the seasons. Jo Landron says that he puts lots of attention on thisbase cuvées because he says that a winemaker should be judged through the tasting of his simple cuvées, not on the high-tier ones. He regrets that in some wineries you have side by side good cuvées reserved for demanding customers and entry cuvées which are plain bad. This shouldn't be. So, he takes pride to work with the same energy on this wine than with the other wines. There's 30 % of the surface which is machine harvested but the rest is hand harvested (all his other wines are made from hand picking). This will be probably the last time he use the combine because he has decided to sell it. Initially they had bought this machine for the years with hailstorm damage, when they needed to pick a certain surface in 3 days.
Wine a bit turbid. Malolactic fermentation is done, here, almost by accident because it happened almost before the alcoholic one. Usually they block it with SO2. Tastes well already. Good richness.
__ Domaine Landron, Cuvée Domaine 2011, from another vat (underground). This will be blended with the previous wine. the wine will remain in there until april. More vivid wine, in spite of the fact it went through its malolactic fermentation. These grapes were machine harvested. More complex wine, Jo Landron says.
__ Domaine Landron, Muscadet from a parcel near Hermine D'Or. it is in organic conversion. Will only go into the Hermine D'Or cuvée when the conversion is fully completed, in a couple of years. Not turbid, already clear, probably because it fermented faster. No malolactic fermentation here, he added some SO2 to prevent it to do its malo.
__ Domaines Landron Amphibolite 2011. One of the 3 vats that will be blended for the cuvée Amphibolite. Very clear wine. Fresh.
__ Domaines Landron, another vat of Amphibolite. More expressive on the nose, nice one. Parcel with not only Amphibolite but a bit of Orthogneiss, makes a wine with more ripeness, and a bit of alcohol, but it'll be blended with the other vats.
__ Domaines Landron, 3rd vat of Amphibolite. More reduction here, he will have the lees separated here to counter the issue. Lees bring reduction which is normal but they have to handle it so as to have wine ready by the end of february and each vat is fit for the blend. 50 year old vines, some being older. Very healthy vines and grapes, but somehow, every year this parcel makes a wine with reduction, which has to be cared of, with racking and taking away some lees, very strange he says, but this is like that every year. But after 3 weeks, the wine is fine and has recovered. Otherwise the structure is very nice as well as the body, with lots of minerality.
__ Domaine Landron Amphibolite 2011 micro blend. Nose is still closed but tastes good. Mouth is dense and mineral. No sugar left, less than 1 gram. About 11° in alcohol. Good balance, not on the bitter side of acidity. There is still CO2 here also. They'll cool the wine to get the tartaric down later. Jo Landron says that in 2011 they have made a green harvest because this year the volume of grapes was too high. This concentrated the harvest, yielding nice results compared with if they hadn't done that. In spring, by the end of may, they were 3 weeks in advance, and they started picking around august 22 (not Amphibolite which was later). They finished september 7rd.
__ Domaines Landron, Hermine D'Or 2011. From the fully-organic (and biodynamic) part, Mortier Gobin. From a vat too. Tastes good already, superb mouth feel. Very sapid wine, says Jo Landron, meaning that there is here a deep tasty feel with minerality at the same time, fills the mouth beautifully. We say sapidité in French, it points to a particular mouthfeel. Jo Landron says that he listened recently to a conference by Jacky Rigaud who is editing a new book very soon (these days) where the wine writer explains how tasting terms and and the whole tasting culture has to be reviewed and rethought, especially in the light of these many organic, non-interventionist wines which fall out of the previous tasting format. Sapidity is among the newly-valued concept for these wines. [in my opinion it joins the concept of drinkability (buvabilité or easy drinking) which is so central to these living wines]. Rigaud says that back in the 16th/17th century, sapidité was a word commonly used by French amateurs of fine wines, at a time when the typical modern description of wine tasting qualities was unknown. At the time, the mouth touch or feel, the grain texture of the wine was more valued than aromas.
Nice length, aerial wine, beautiful terroir indeed.
__ Domaines Landron, Fief du Breil 2010, still in cement vat, on its lees. Waiting for the soon-awarded cru-communal appellation within the Muscadet appellation. More petrol notes, along with ripe grape notes. Jo Landron says that it is balanced between the fruit, grapefruit side and the mineral, flintstone notes. Lees give more richness to the wine. No reduction here, in spite of the long stay on its lees. Intensity in the mouth, nice gliding on the palate.
__ Domaines Landron, Le Fief du Breil 2010 (bottle), first bottling. Nose of dry raisins. Nice minerality for this wine which is at the very beginning of its life. Smoky notes too. The terroir of Le Fief du Breil has always these smoky, flintstone notes, Jo Landron says. 5-6 hectares with yields of 38/42ho/ha. The next bottling will show the appellation communale "La Haye Fouassière" in addition to Le Fief du Breil.
__ Domaines Landron Hermine D'Or 2010. First bottling (april 14, 2011). they made two bottlings in all. Very nice wine, elegant and intense. Honey notes.
__ Domaines Landron, Hermine D'Or 2010, bottled end of november 2011. More fresh, more acidic. More energy too.
Read the Winedoctor's piece on Jo Landron.
Domaine Landron wines are exported to the United States (Martin Scott, Candid Wines, Ideal Wine, Beaune Imports, Authentique Vin, Vin de Garde), to the United Kingdom (Caves de Pyrène) and to Japan (Racines and Mottox) among other countries.