Briand is 100% Grenache and is, in our opinion, a perfect example of how this varietal can express itself in this part of the world. The fruit is spicy and red, with a beautiful perfume full of wild fennel and clove. The wine is neatly cut through with 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. The 2018 vintage comes in a crown-capped bottle and the wine has fermented dry. The perfect bistro red.
Gérald 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 Gérald 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 own 19 hectares, with some of the fruit sold on other producers, and a good percentage leased out 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 new surprise each year.