Producer: Thierry Simon & Philippe Vérax
Farming: Organic (AB)
Lacapelle Cabanac is the culmination of a dream belonging to Thierry Simon & Philippe Verax, who had careers in the software industry. They found themselves wishing to leave the urban jungle of Paris and head for the slopes of Cahors in the Southwest of France to make wine. Meanwhile, 25 years before these two sojourners headed south, the winery that was destined to be theirs underwent a complete overhaul in 1978. Its then owner converted an abandoned building on the property into a winery. During the renovation he discovered a stone infrastructure that proved to be the vestiges of a winery dating back to the 18th century.
When Simon and Vérax discovered the property they were seduced. Their first goal was modernization of the winemaking equipment and vinification/viticulture method-ology. Renovated chais, cuves, and the complete conversion to certified organic agriculture began shortly after they purchased the property in 2001. Only copper and sulfur are used to treat the vines, which have the enormous advantage of residing on the slopes above Cahors. This is a rarity, since most Cahors is produced on the flat valley floor, which renders less complex, less interesting wines as a whole.
There are two vineyards at Lacapelle Cabanac, one is entirely of “causse” – the name for the chalky ballasts coated with decalcified Kimmerigean clay unique to the plateau of Cahors. It features excellent drainage capabilities given its distance from the river. Yields are kept very low. The other vineyard is situated on a chalky limestone plateau at 300m altitude and benefits from the cooler climates of the Lot Valley. Large noctural/diurnal temp shifts result in late harvest.
Grapes are harvested at full maturity, which provides for excellent aromatic potential. The Autan Wind is hot and dry and blows till fall; this prevents any interference from Atlantic precipitation. Malbec, the mainstay grape of Cahors, is little-used in France outside of the Lot Valley, which confers its typicity: darkly colored berries that make dense, powerfully tannic wines of great ageability. Merlot is the noble grape from St-Emilion that accounts for 14% of the production at Cabanac. It is used to enrich aromatics while adding mellowness to the flavor profiles.