Bernard Plageoles took the reins, to continue the work of his father Robert, an outspoken advocate for natural wines with a centuries old approach to winemaking. Robert Plageoles had researched and replanted over a dozen varieties (seven in the Mauzac family alone) indigenous to Gaillac that had all but vanished. It is now Florent and Romain, Bernard’s sons, who have taken up the cause. Established in 1805, Domaine Plageoles has been passed down from generation to generation, the Plageoles are one of the oldest winemaking families in the AOC and they are thoroughly invested in retaining the traditions and quality for which this oft-overlooked AOC is now receiving well-deserved praise.
Robert Plageoles was an enthusiastic historian, having written two books – one about the local Gaillac grape varieties and another about local viticultural and wine-making traditions. He and all members of the Plageoles family have made the conservation and protection of traditional indigenous Gaillac grape varieties their “conservatoire ampelographique”, an unrivalled collection of grape varieties that had been abandoned by local vignerons after their own vines were destroyed by the phylloxera in the nineteenth century. The Plageoles family subsequently planted the fourteen historical Gaillacois grape varieties: notably, the white Ondenc, and Verdanel, all seven of the different varieties of Mauzac, and Mauzac Noir, Duras, and Braucol for the reds. They have therefore made their name with a wide range of natural and terroir-driven wines, some of which recreate the traditional wines once made in Gaillac, most notably the ‘Vin de Voile’ (aged for seven years in barrel, in a similar way that the Jura’s Vin Jaune is made), the ‘Vin d’Autan’ (a vin liquoreux) and the Mauzac Nature (the traditional sparkling wine of Gaillac).
The former arcane wine is made from the first pressing of Mauzac Roux (one of the seven Mauzacs), which is fermented in 600-litre demi-muid and returned to the same barrel where it remains for a further seven years, losing about 20% of volume. After a year, the must develops a thin veil (voile) of mould which protects it from the air. The flavour is delicate, reminiscent of salt-dry amontillado, with the acidity to age half a century. The wine is richer and more honeyed than its Jurassic brethren, possibly to do with the nature of the grape variety and possibly also the specifics of terroir. This curious wine would go well with a soup of haricots beans laced with truffle oil or a Roquefort salad with wet walnuts. Yes, from soup to nuts.
2010 Vin de Voile