Loire

Laurent Lebled

laurent-lebled-790x300In 2008, the recession hit Laurent Lebled hard. He was forced to shut down his three-decade-old wood merchant business. Fortunately, two childhood friends helped him go in an unexpected direction.

Laurent’s two friends are Sébastien Bobinet and Patrick Corbineau. Sébastien had quit his job in 2003 after inheriting 2 hectares of vines from his grandfather; Patrick had quit his job at the Chinon power station after inheriting vines from his grandfather. Even though Laurent had no vines to inherit, and had never before worked amid the vines or in a cellar, Sébastien insisted that he should become a vigneron. Laurent was dubious, but Sébastien promised he would show him how. Laurent gave it a shot, assisting Bobinet through 2009.

Having always been a fan of wines from the Touraine, that’s where Laurent started his search for vines and a cellar of his own. Through friends he was able to find 1.7 hectares of vines and a cellar to rent in the commune of Saint-Aignan. But, shortly after the contract for the vines was signed, the proprietor of the cellar backed out, forcing him to improvise. On short notice, he found a winery in Savigny-en-Véron, over an hour away, and rented half a hectare of Cabernet Franc on sandy soil next to it.

2010 was Laurent’s first vintage, and Sébastien Bobinet and Patrick Corbineau generously counseled him when he needed it. Now, however, he confidently runs things, producing sulfur-free, carbonically macerated reds but with a difference. His macerations last 30 days (a “typical” full carbonic maceration lasts 12 to 15 days), which gives his wines a distinctive rusticity that you don’t often find in the light, fruity vins de soif made in the same style.