The land of vines and olives – the Minervois winegrowing region, itself within the larger Languedoc, has often garnered such a nickname as its terrain and climate can be so rough that grapes and olives should be just about all that’s capable of growing here. Mainly true, this is a stretch of land defined by stark geology and weather. At the piedmont of the Montaigne Noire and the Central Massif to the north, with the Aude river and the Corbieres Pre-Pyrenees range to the south, Minervois is itself a kind of nesting doll of the Languedoc, a miniature expression of a terrain’s violently-earned variety. The rugged land with its drapery of garrigue may, from a distance, give the impression of softly rolling hills. Anything but: drystone walls crafted by millenia of erosion line any which road or path up into the mountains, meanwhile the many ancient dolmen and capitelles give credence to the real harshness of settling down here. Indeed the namesake village of this region (Minerve) is only accessible by foot, with visitors needing to park on one side of a gorge and walk into town over what is, during the dry months, a vertiginous ravine rather than an idyllic river. It is amidst this stark landscape that Brunnhilde Claux crafts inimitable wines within the territorial bounds of what is known as the La Livinière 1er Cru du Languedoc though she does not apply for such AOC status. Having previously worked at the famed and influential Domaine Gauby (similarly a place of development for Tom Lubbe of Domaine Matassa) of Calce, Brunnhilde took over the reins as vigneronne of Domaine de Courbissac in Cesseras – one of the villages of the Livinière 1er Cru – in 2013. Having since then helped grow the biodynamically certified estate into its current shape and size, she decided to forge a new imprint within the domain and thus Notre Terre (tr.: Our Earth) was born, with an image of Ceres (Demeter) as its symbol. This is the first vintage of the line focused mainly on a selection of their best Grenache plantings, a grape that under Brunnhilde’s expertise here in the hot-as-can-be Minervois, achieves new energy, life, and a rare kind of tenderness, the kind that thrills.
Vinification: 100% Grenache. Practicing organic. Fermented in whole clusters in stainless steel. Unfined, unfiltered, no sulphur.
Tasting: Medium bodied. Smoked berries on the nose. Tastes like blueberry, elderberry and black currant mixed with the pines of the Adirondacks. Fresh acidity. Faint, comforting tannins on the finish. A perfect wine for this transition period from Summer to Fall.