La Nouvelle Don(n)e

Wilfried Valat – Calce, Roussillon

Wilfried personifies Contemporary France – classically trained, modern twist.

A biochemistry grad, schooled in the best Burgundian estates – Vosne-Romanée and Givry – he acquired the centuries-old tradition of making elegant, fresh Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with their precise fruit, distinctive mineral backbone, and sense of place.

He then found a playground in Roussillon.

And boy did he select a patch of nature.

Col de la Dona is one of the wildest, roughest terrains in France. Let's start with the Tramontane winds: these strong, cold, dry gusts start in the Atlantic and head south, they gain speed when funnelled between the Pyrenees, Central Massif, and then uplifted by rising air from the hot valley. The constant winds have a profound effect on the grapes: they instil freshness, and cool at night to prevent over-ripening. A relief with Roussillon's summer heat, intensified at altitude. 

This enables fruit flavours to develop slowly, more concentrated and balanced.

It’s Wilfried's vision is to erase man from nature.

The biochem grad connects the atomic relationship between rock soil and cellar.  And he has spectacular terrain of schist, marl, shale.  The envy of everyone outside Mosel Valley.

Wilfried farms only indigenous grapes (they have adapted to these extremes): Carignan, Grenache, Macabeu, Mouvédre.  Fermentations in native yeasts.  Pressing done at a lower force to minimise stress and 'eeking out' on the grapes.  Minimum sulphur. 

Very small yields of mind-boggling richness, depth and minerality for such austere terrain. Burgundy inspired.

His vines are surrounded by local flora: wild lavendar, fennel, thyme (i.e. garrigue) and olive, hawthorne, oak and chestnut trees.

We affectionately nicknamed him the Carignan King, artisan wines crafted by an enthusiast.  We carry four of his wines: