It has been a fun and educating week in WineMason when Manu Pageot of Turner Pageot came to visit.
For any potential winemakers out there looking to emulate the beauty in each of his wines, the finishing result of Emmanuel’s wines are nowhere near a stroke of luck or the result of some laissez faire winemaking. They are built upon years experience of biodynamics and of working internationally.
Manu believes a wine can only truly be judged on the palate rather than the nose, which is why all his white wines can be best judged on their mouthfeel, salinity and bitterness. This is largely from his love of the techniques of skin contact which he uses on all his white grapes but is also achieved through the use of different fermentation vessels, temperatures and time.
Manu has been making wine for 30 years. As he says himself, wine is in his blood. His grandmother had vineyards planted with Gamay and Pinot Noir in the centre of France in the 1950s. Although the wine produced here was ‘horrible’ (his words, not mine) it was enough to ignite his thirst for his future vocation.
In those 30 years he worked in Alsace, South Africa and Australia. It was in Italy where he first fell in love with the skin contact wines and is a great fan of Gravner (naturally) and in Tuscany where he carried out some preliminary experiments with skin contact Trebbiano. He worked in Provence at Domaine Beate and also worked in the vineyards of Chapoutier in the Rhone which is where he was first introduced to biodynamic farming.
After this extensive experience he wanted to set up his own winery and finally settled in the Languedoc where he spent time carefully selecting vineyard sites and in particular looked for cooler north facing vineyards. From the very beginning of Turner Pageot the vineyards were farmed biodynamically as he knew no other or better way to work. Soil types vary dramatically and he works with schist, basalt, sandstone, boxite, and two types of limestone. He started with 4 hectares (ha), which grew to 7ha and now he has 10ha which is enough for one person to manage, preferring single vineyard winemaking and fermenting each parcel separately.
Turner Pageot makes both red and white wines though he has a stronger reputation for white varieties. What is intrinsically distinctive about Turner Pageot is that they use orange/skin contact successfully in blends as well as one wine with 100% skin contact orange.
So, let’s get down to the wines. We did an in house tasting of all the white wines.
Le Blanc 2018
60% Roussanne, 40% Orange (Marsanne/Picpoul/Sauvignon Blanc)
Each of the varieties are fermented separately. Half of the Roussanne was made in old wood and half in stainless steel. Manu says the salinity is from the orange technique, the oily fattish body from Roussanne and integrated (low) tannins from a skin contact of about 5 weeks and subsequent maturation.
Tasting note – pineapple, grapefruit, bitter, pithy, smoky, spice.
La Rupture 2016
100% Sauvignon Blanc (although you might not think it!)
This is Manu’s favourite wine because it’s a challenge. What’s important here are the range of winemaking skills used on different parcels of Sauvignon Blanc.
He ferments at high temperatures between 29oC – 31oC. This helps the wine to lose its varietal character and blow off the aromatics of Sauvignon Blanc.
Battonage is also a feature practiced twice a week for several months. Maturation in bottle of 2 to 3 years before release encourages the smokiness and flinty characteristics.
In terms of vessels, there’s old wood, new wood, stainless steel and plastic containers. Less is most definitely not more in TP land.
Tasting note: Fresh, herbal, white pepper, savoury, lemon, grapefruit, zesty.
Les Choix 2015
100% Marsanne, 100% on skins
The first vintage of Les Choix was in 2010. Marsanne is a more rustic variety is prone to oxidation. The tannins here are extremely strong when pressed off rendering the wine almost undrinkable which is why it needs two years in barrel and time in the bottle to soften. Aged on fine lees, which is a must for orange wines. The palate is vibrant and youthful with the fruit clean and fresh.
Tasting note: Distinctive amber in colour, apricot, peppercorn, sultanas, spice, tart.