One of the more inventive vintners in the Languedoc is former Burgundy winemaker Bruno Lafon, who is now based in the obscure Côtes de Thongue appellation. Lafon moved to the Languedoc in 1998 to start his own winery, Domaine Magellan, with his sister-in-law, Sylvie Legros. Lafon, whose brother Dominique oversees the famed Burgundian estate of Comtes Lafon, handles the vineyards and winemaking while Legros runs the business side. “We have great terroir in the Languedoc, but we are young—it took 1,000 years for regions like Burgundy to become what they are today. We in the Languedoc should make good wines that are good values as well,” Lafon says. When he and Legros bought the estate in 1999, it was a rundown collection of vineyards planted to a multitude of grape varieties; its former owner had planted the range to see which grapes would work best there. Today, Lafon has rehabilitated the estate and now manages 104 acres planted to a salad bowl of 13 different varieties, including the Tempranillo grape of Spain. Lafon shies away from the use of new oak barrels because he values the pure fruit flavors that his grapes provide. Domaine Magellan takes its name from the small town of Magalas, north of Beziers, where the winery is located. While Lafon’s wines carry the Vin de Pays moniker because his vineyards lie outside officially preferred real estate such as the Coteaux du Languedoc, his quality is on par with that of some of the best Coteaux estates.
Planted in the seventies, makes it one of the oldest Merlot vineyards in the Languedoc! The winemaking followed a classic pattern without over-extraction. No oak was used, although the wine was aged in concrete tank for 20 months. Of course it is a Merlot, but it is primarily a wine from the domaine’s sandstone terroir: spicy smoky, with a great richness and smooth tannins.
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