The Estate’s name comes from the famous George Brassens song "Les Sabots d ́Hélène" which is a nod to his wife's first name and of course to the singer's rebellious ideas.
Alban Michel, originally from Lorraine, a northern french department, one of the coldest regions of France bordering Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany - has established himself back in 2005 in the Corbières Maritime, the most southern region of the country far away from his birth place in search of a warmer climate. Les Corbières is located in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. It has a very hot and sunny Mediterranean climate in the summer and the winter is very mild due to the proximity of the mediterranean sea.
The region offers some of the best wines in the world but also faces some of the most difficult challenges (one of the many being climate change). Amongst them, Alban Michel has been in a distressing battle with big round heavy beasts who like to pay his 4.5 hectares vineyard a visit every year a little before harvest time.
Sounders of wild boars that can weigh up to 100kgs have been feasting on his beloved Syrah, Carignan, Muscat d’Alexandrie and Grenache grapes. Eating them straight off of his naturally kept/chemical free vines, sometimes, destroying the protective fences in the middle of the night to get to the grapes. Consequently, his production is sadly quite small as a result.
Back in 2005, Alban Michel had the opportunity to recover beautiful Syrah vines of about thirty years and above, which contributed to the singularity and delectableness of his wines. The vines of Carignan and Grenache are even older! They are between 50 and 100 years old.
A bit of an anarchist and above all a libertarian, Alban Michel uses all his wines as “table wine” to maintain his freedom to create naturally and reject the A.O.C.
*All grapes are handpicked with care, then destemmed, transferred in a tank for maceration (10 days minimum), pressed to extract the juice and then transferred to tanks for fermentation. The fermentation occurs spontaneously with the indigenous yeasts that are present on the skin of the grape, the indigenous yeasts will then convert all of the sugar into ethanol and thus, that is how a cuvée of natural wine is born!
Nothing is added at any point of the process. It’s wine made of grapes only.
Photos were taken by Adrien Golinelli exclusively for La Pépite. All rights reserved ©.