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Wine Freedom

Jurancon Caubeigt 2020 - Domaine Castera - Jurancon, France 75cl

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Despite his young age, Franck Lihour has already been making wines around the world (including, it turns out, at our friends at Beaumont winery in South Africa) for over 10 years. On his travels he has picked up many ideas to improve the quality of wine back home. He introduced some these ‘new-fangled’ ideas, gingerly at first, to his father, and now has taken over the key decisions in the vineyards and winery.
Franck treats the vines with natural rather than chemical products, the soils are nourished with green manure and biodiversity is encouraged by the planting of various plants, harvesting is done by hand and in stages, with forensic attention to the quality and ripeness…

The Lihour vineyards are made of three plots: Tauzy (2ha, named after the local oak), Caubeigt (8ha) and Les Terrasses (1.3h). Tauzy is based on clay limestone soils with pudding stones, les galets, like you find in Chateauneuf; this is a cooler vineyard to which the rare indigenous variety Petit Courbu - revived by Franck and his father and now cultivated by several growers in the region. In addition to his outstanding dry whites, he also makes a lovely sweet wine. NB: he worked at the great Sauternes producer Chateau Suduiraut.

Since Franck took over the domain, terroir expression has taken on prime importance. Everything else is secondary. Franck has taken decisions such as to not protect the juice against oxygen, and stopping low temperatures for fermenting as he is not interested in extracting loads of aromas but have a more complex, mineral wine.

Under his watch, already good vineyard standards have improved yet more, pressing has become more important (slower), while only indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation. The wines are quintessential Jurancon. Franck is a young winemaker that is, quite simply, taking this hugely under-appreciated appellation to the next level.

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