High up in the Agly Valley looking up at the Albandegrave;res (the mountains separating Roussillon from Catalunya) some of the best wines in France are discreetly produced by a true vigneron, Cyril Fhal. I fell in love with his work more than 12 years ago, and I have been working with his wines ever since.andnbsp;Delicious young, I could pour his wines by the glass immediately, but they are also equally cellar worthy.andnbsp; Exiting the famous andldquo;Holiday A9andrdquo; highway connecting Montpellier to Barcelona, you begin to climb mountain roads, the gorgeous blue of the Mediterranean sea swells behind you, leaving behind the clamoring of the city.andnbsp;Upon approaching the foothills of the mountain you will find soils of schists and gneiss.andnbsp;To find vegetation growing here is rare, but the head-pruned vines, old and gnarly, are scattered everywhere on the rough slopes. The vines are assaulted by the harsh Tramontane winds that have also proven to create a landscape said, in folklore, to plant the andldquo;les germes de la folieandrdquo; (the seeds of craziness).andnbsp;Latour-de-France, with its medieval architecture, is one of the very few hamlets you will find. You feel you are at the end of the civilization, alone in the wilderness. This is where Cyril, after working in the Loire, decided to start the Clos du Rouge Gorge in 2002. A couple of miles away in Calce, Gandeacute;rard Gauby and Tom Lubbe showed the world that beautiful, terroir-driven, dry white and red wine could be produced in a region usually dedicated to fortified wines.andnbsp;He was inspired.andnbsp;He purchased aged vines between 50 and 100 years old, including the incredibly steep plot of l'Ubac. They demanded a lot of work. Patiently and carefully, he gardened them, using biodynamic farming and permaculture, observing nature to recreate land with living biodiversity.andnbsp;Cyril knew this was the best method of farming for a region that receives very little rain, but an excess of wind. It is also the only way to allow the grapes to preserve their natural acidity, with a moderate level of alcohol despite the heat. And it is the only way to make wines with no intervention - Cyril just uses a tiny bit of bisulfites when needed.andnbsp; The result: some of the most elegant, burgundy-esque wines you will ever taste, produced from grapes usually considered hot, rustic or unexpressive like Grenache, Carignan or Macabeu. They are transcendent wines, because Cyril doesn't count the hours and the sweat spent among his vines, and he is so precise in the cellar that the wines have a pure beauty, with an incredible poetry and energy. They are just among the most elegant and subtle wines you can find. And if you are not a believer in natural wines, they will change your mind.andnbsp; - Pascaline Lepeltier
WARNING: DRINKING DISTILLED SPIRITS, BEER, COOLERS, WINE AND OTHER ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES MAY INCREASE CANCER RISK, AND, DURING PREGNANCY, CAN CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS.