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Wolf, are you there?

August 15, 2011
The Cousins

As a Wine Consultant at Andover Liquors, one of my go-to recommendations when customers come into the store looking for a bottle of red wine that’s light and fresh enough for summer sipping is Jean Orliac’s Le Loup dans la Bergerie (The Wolf in the Sheep’s Pen), an un-oaked  blend of 40 % Syrah, 30 % Merlot and 30 % Grenache.

For me, it was love at first sip. Here’s a quick profile of the wine:

Color: Fuschia rim with a deep violet center.

Aroma: Very fragrant and fruit-forward with rich notes of lychee, brambly wildberry, and stewed fruit backed by light spice.

Taste: Echoes the nose. Firm yet gentle acidity brings a refreshing tartness to the palate.

Texture/Mouthfeel: Medium bodied; Silky smooth.

Finish: Decently long Cote du Rhone-like spice finish.

Adorable Image from Orliac’s site illustrating the wolf’s love for the sheep.

Jean Orliac began his career making these fabulous wines back in the 1970’s in Pic Saint-Loup, France when he came across a vacant piece of land nestled between two gigantic limestone cliffs he frequently climbed.  An agricultural engineer at the time, Orliac quickly realized the long-standing history of the site as a garden, or “Hortus” in Latin.  Gnarled old olive trees were overgrown by scraggly, abandoned grape vines and it was clear that centuries of people had lived there, battling the brush and scrub native to the Mediterranean landscape as they grew their food.

Orliac decided then that he would continue in that same age-old tradition and began raising winegrapes in the somewhat harsh scrubland of Pic Saint-Loup.  Somehow, almost magically, he and his team manage to create beautiful wines under a variety of labels including Le Loup dans la Bergerie, Domaine de l’Hortus, and Bergerie de l’Hortus— all without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers (the producer has always practiced organic farming and winemaking techniques and is in the midst of the long & in-depth certification process).  Both his land and the wines it produces with Orliac’s assistance are “characterized by a complex balance.”

New to Andover Liquors this year is a delightful rosé from Bergerie de l’HortusRosé de Saignée (roughly translated as “The Rosé of my Blood” or “The Rosé I have Bled”).  A light, easy-drinking blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Mourvèdre, this rosé is the perfect summer companion to just about any culinary creation.  Here’s another skeletal review:

Color: Pale salmon.

Aroma: Nose shows ripe strawberries and fresh-picked violets.

Taste:  Vibrant, almost racy acidity is rounded by ripe strawberry fruit.

Texture/Mouthfeel: Light-bodied; Cool and refreshing with just a touch of spritz or effervescence.

Finish: Medium-length, almost herbaceous finish.

These two gems from Jean Orliac are among my favorite wines to wind down the summer with.  They are meant to bring us back to the mystery and wonder of forgotten childhood, to a time when dreams were important and our imaginations could run wild in the forest.

Jean Orliac’s wines are an attempt to marry wine with poetry.  They are refreshing yet complex, elegant yet affordable, and organic to boot;  It doesn’t get much better than that!  Cheers!

It pays to get involved…comment on our blog for a chance to win an Andover Liquors Gift Certificate! In order to be considered in our contest, the “rules” are simple. Pick a post, leave us your thoughts and sign your first and last name. It’s that easy…and you could win a $50 gift card, too!

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