Maison Lamartine – The property was created in 1883 and it’s always been in the family. These elements are very important to understand the philosophy and vision of this family of winemakers. They have been giving the best of themselves to make the greatest wine possible. I personally fell in love with this wine so I requested an interview, which was graciously granted. This family lives their passion and try to transmit their values into the wines: the regularity, the tradition and a family spirit. In the past, Lamartine used to be written in two words, La Martine. The house of the estate was built near a one century year old oak tree. Acording to the legend, it used to be the place where a beautiful girl, named Martine, had her Rendez-vous.
I enjoyed the 2011 Cuvée Particulière, appellation Cahors, France. I paid $26 a bottle. Here is more information from the winemaker:
Terroir: Vine-plants aged 40-55 years old on clay-limestone soil – low yield, 40 Hl/ha. As defenders of the agro-environmental ethic, this family gives high importance to the regularity of the soil work. The vines draw vital minerals that are essential for the concentration and the complexity of the grands vins.
Wine making: Traditional method in steel tanks during 30 days with temperature control and traditional punch of the cap process. Ageing in cement tanks until the following spring. During 1 year, 1/3 of the volume stays in 1 year-old oak barrels and the other 2/3 of the volume stays in 2 year-old oak barrels for 12 to 14 months. Bottling in June.
Ageing potential: From 4 to 12 years.
Tasting notes: Beautiful deep purple colour, typical of the appellation. Intense and complex nose: grilled, spiced, red fruits, menthol. This wine is well textured, rich and has a slight taste of liquorice. I noted bouquet of violets and this wine paired exceptionally well with a lavender chocolate from Belgium. The violet notes in the wine with its soft tannins and the herbal lavender notes in the chocolate really tickled the mind!
I interviewed Benjamin Gayraud and asked him these 2 questions: what is your every day wine and what is your splurge or special wine? He describes ” 3 moments’ wines”: The Château Lamartine is an everyday wine, the Cuvée Particulière is a Sunday wine and the Expression is a special occasion wine. For Benjamin, an everyday wine is something easy, fruity, round but with a touch of depth. Château Lamartine completes this description. He goes on to describe the Cuvée Particulière, a Sunday wine, as middle range wine, which is the main production of the vineyard : 9,000 cases per year. Benjamin describes Cuvée Particulière as a flexible wine: you can drink it now or hold it ten years. Powerful and round at the same time, the Cuvée Particulière is a very good value. Lastly, Benjamin explains the special occasion wine – Expression from Lamartine. They began making the Expression in the mid 1990’s to offer a “grand” Cahors to customers and it showcases their wine making skill. It’s a complex, intense and delicate wine made only from Malbec grape. It’s a perfect wine to go with black chocolate cake, cheese, red meat or game.
I asked Benjamin specifically about the Cuvée Particulière. He points out that it is made with their oldest vines, aged 45 to 65 years. These vines are located on the 3rd terrace of the river lot, clay-limestone and he describes them as the best soil because clay regulates water.
The clay is really important to bring structure and tannins. The limestone brings the wine length and finesse. The clay soils are more acid and this makes the Cuvée Particulière a wine for laying down/aging.
Benjamin illustrates that the work of the winemaker is really demanding. It’s a very rich and varied job and as winemaker, what exhilarates him is definitely all the tasting during the post-fermentation in order to do a blending before maturing.
Château Lamartine is one of the oldest wineries from Cahors Appellation, and has been in the Gayraud family since 1920: Benjamin is the fourth generation. He is 24 years of age and began work on the family property 2 years ago. He achieved a Bachelor of Science degree and then trained in viticulture and oenology for 2 additional years. He then journeyed to New Zealand to make wine and gain a different vision.
The Lamartine family estate originates from the Gallo-Romaine era and the vineyard is located on the terraces of the lot valley. In 1878 the Philloxera attack destroyed it. From 1920, Edouard Sérougne, Alain Gayraud’s grandfather, a courageous and persistent man, re-organized the vineyard thanks to some Malbec stocks that survived. As a family property, this vineyard was one of the first to sell the wine in bottle. (see website for more pictures and documentation). From 1930 onward, he went on to motivate his few remaining colleagues to found the first union to defend the wines of Cahors.
He also became one of the group of 15 who revived the “Confrérie des vins de Cahors”.
Edouard Sérougne, amateur poet, wrote these few lines in witness to this legend :
“Pur, de bonne famille
D’Auxerrois et cépage de cru
Comme de la jolie fille On désire sa vertu…” (copied with permission from Benjamin Gayraud)