Domaine de Mouscaillo
Camille & Thomas Fort - Roquetaillade, Limoux
The Forts’ story is a microcosm of the Languedoc story. Families dedicated to a spectacular wine-making terroir, a struggle rescued by cooprerative winemaking, who rediscover belief and farm independently again. For the Forts it took a maverick outsider, the late winemaking genius Didier Dagueneua; “this is an amazing wine-making place Pierre, you must return.” He's affectionately remembered as the Godfather of Mouscaillo.
Pierre and Marie-Claire returned, to farm the Chardonnay he planted 20 years prior on two parcels of land: the north-facing Le Mouscaillo, which means 'little fly' in Occitan, and the south-facing Saint Pierre; both share spectacular views of the snow-capped Pyrénées. They also recouperated a hectare of Pinot Noir. The vines are some of the oldest in Limoux.
The Domaine is now managed by their son Thomas and his wife Camille. Both trained Ecologists, previously working in the Scientific Research Centre in Ecology. They bring a contemporary commitment to conservation: "we really think that our terroir must be protected in order to continue to have grapes of quality and make interesting wines. It is the reason why we do all those things with environment and diversity; the conservation of many ecosystems around the vineyards, the genetic diversity inside the vines (mauzac conservatory and massal selections), the use of green manure instead of fertilizers."
What’s so special?
The landscape. The altitude and exposure of the vines on the northern slopes, swept by the 'Cers' wind from the north-west and 'Marin' wind from the east, enable progressive ripening of grapes, developing a gorgeous, fresh, and mineral texture.
The mountains. Flanked by the Pyrénées and Montagne Noir (Central Massif) ensure a slightly cooler terroir d'altitude temperature, making freshness of flavour. The neighbouring mountain forest is fertile with garrigue, that mineral and herbaceous dry-scrub that grows with abandon across the region. As Thomas describes “these grasses are in conference with our vines”. A conference of diverse flavours.
The soil. Deep (10m), a mix of clay on limestone, retains water. A godsend in long, hot, dry summers.
And in this wine-growing paradise, they focus on three grapes:
Pinot Noir. This is, grape for grape, one of the best Pinot Noirs we’ve ever drunk. Perfumed, velvety texture, delicate cherry/berry fruit, balanced with cocoa and earthy vanilla. It is delicious.
Chardonnay. Their valley ecosystem and 50-yr old vines produce a delicious expression of Chardonnay. You’ll taste grapefruit, elegant minerality; emanating from vines at altitude cooled by the Mediterranean Sea air.
Mauzac. Both Thomas and Camille are trained ecologists and the restoration of native Mauzac - maybe 80 different clones - really appeals.
Fermenting and aging are done in large puncheons - 450-600L oak barrels which are the magic size for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir outside the Côte d'Or.
They live a true, hardworking paysans lifestyle - one where time is regulated by nature, and techniques are a thoughtful response to seasonal fluctuations.
Their wines, whose potential was recognised by Godfather Didier all those decades ago, are made in the vineyard, guided in the cellar, and we zealously buy all three!