Gerald Oustric is one of a distinct group of winemakers that experienced a shared epiphany after meeting Marcel Lapierre during the 80s. At the time he was working the family vineyards in Valvignères, a village in the southern half of the Ardèche, alongside his father. All the resulting fruit was sold to the local co-operative. It was after this fateful meeting with Lapierre that Gerald realised there was another way to tend the vines and turn the resulting grapes into wine, and by the late 90s he had pulled out of the co-op, converted the domaine to organic and started to realise his vision of making wine with no additions at all. He joined forces with his sister Jocelyne, and Le Mazel was born. Over 20 years later they now farm 19 hectares, with some of it given over to fruit that is then sold négociant, or vines that are leased to friends and emergent winemakers such as Anders Frederik Steen and Sylvain Bock, whom Gerald and Jocelyne have enjoyed a collaborative working relationship with since they started to make wine in the area. Le Mazel wines are a literal translation of the mistral-swept valley in which the vines sit over clay and limestone soils. They also embrace the vintage variations that can occur when making wine in this way rather than fighting against them; the resulting wines are vital, nourishing and a gift to any table they land on.
Briand is 100% Grenache and is, in our opinion, a perfect example of how this varietal presses itself in this part of the world. The fruit is spicy and red, with a beautiful floral perfume as well as notes of allspice and clove. There is great structure from the bright acidity, and the fruit has a dark, sappy quality. The perfect foil to a plate of fatty rillettes or coarse terrine. As usual, it starts with a ten-day whole bunch carbonic maceration before being pressed off to stainless steel tank for a long, slow fermentation with no temperature control. Almost 2 years later the wine is ready to be bottled. Gérald no longer gives this cuvée any time in barrel, preferring the bright, primary fruit the tank method preserves.