Laurent Saillard Grenache du Gard/Syrah du Vaucluse 2021
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Press 4 Mix / Press 4 Red • June 2023 Direct Press Selection
Laurent Saillard rediscovered himself as a winemaker after years of living and working here in New York. He spent time in busy kitchens at Boulay and Balthazar, and later opened the Bistro Ici in Fort Greene with his wife in the early aughts. Fast forward 20 years, Laurent now tends several small lots of Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay and Pineau d’Aunis in the tiny town of Pouillé, about an hour east of Tours in the Loire. In this time span, he worked several years with Noella Morantin, doing a lot of vineyard work and experimenting with small amounts of wine of his own under her tutelage. It wasn’t until 2012 that he released his first vintage. Morantin transferred some of the acres she rented at Clos Roches Blanches to Saillard around this time so he could make his own wine. Laurent has a methodical approach in the vineyard and in his cellar, from pruning to grass and soil rejuvenation to harvesting and fermenting. His vines are never sprayed and all the work is done by hand. Only indigenous yeasts are used, and fermentations take place in fiberglass vats or old oak barrels.
The cuvée we’re featuring this month is a bit unusual, and in a way, a symbol of the resilience and community that it takes to make wine. Devastating frosts in the spring of 2021 wiped out Saillard’s crop. This wine is made with Grenache from vineyards farmed by friends in the southern part of France, the Grenache from near Nimes, and Syrah from a vineyard in Vaucluse. The grapes were destemmed and fermented on skins for five days, before being pressed off into the tank for a five-month élevage at Saillard’s cellar. This wine carries the levity and freshness that has become his trademark, met by a fun, forest-y, rustic edge that keeps it savory. Bruno Sant’Anna