François Lurton and his projects at ProWein
If you want to get to know one of the most passionate winemakers in the world, you should make an appointment with François Lurton. Not only does he make wine in four countries on two continents, but he has also made quite a career for himself as a pioneer, which has been true for a solid quarter-century. And now he does it again!
François Lurton in Argentina © François Lurton
In 1995, François Lurton and his brother Jacques bought a tract of land at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Argentina’s Uco Valley. This particular piece of real estate was known as Los Chacayes – and there was no grapevine to be seen growing in any direction. But the Lurton brothers recognised its great potential.
While the level terrain in the region was very much like a desert, the slopes and plateaus in the area – with their nutrient-rich water sources from the snowmelt of the Andes – offered exciting viticultural possibilities. In addition, the area featured a consistently continental climate, which guaranteed grapes of good character. The brothers were enthusiastic, and willing to take the risk. They began to plant vines. One year later, they owned 136 hectares of vineyards.
Many winemaker colleagues followed suit, unaware of what would come of the name ‘Chacayes’. But since then, Los Chacayes has become a protected designation of origin: in October 2017, ‘Los Chacayes’ was raised to the status of a GI (Geographical Indication).
François Lurton’s wines (brother Jacques departed the company several years ago) are now certified organic. His ‘Chacayes’ is a cuvée of Malbec blended with Côt (a Bordelaise variant of the variety) and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. The ways in which this wine evolves over the years will be illustrated at ProWein; François will be bringing with him a vertical selection of Chacayes, from over a fifteen-year period:
2002 (first vintage)–2007–2014–2015–2017.
For the technical data regarding each wine please click here.
Los Chacayes © François Lurton
Wine alone is not enough for him
Anyone who knows François knows how much the Bordeaux native cherishes the grape variety Sauvignon Blanc. Two years ago, he caused quite a stir when he launched a gin made from this variety (Sorgin).
Now François is bringing another surprise in his luggage: Léonce. It is a dry white Vermouth made from Sauvignon Blanc, which re-animates the legacy of François Lurton’s great-grandfather, Léonce Récapet. Récapet was a resourceful distiller, a tireless worker and a true innovator. François synthesises his grandfather’s know-how and his own viticultural expertise in this vermouth, which radiates elegance, complexity and the finesse of Sauvignon Blanc.
The grapes come from the southwest of France, from the region of Gers (Occitaine). The basis wine is distilled to an alcohol content of 70% and subsequently macerated with herbs. The macerate is then added to the base wine of the last vintage (Les Fumées Blanches). This blend of wine, distillate and herbal extracts yields a beautifully balanced vermouth, with an intense and complex aromatic profile: pink grapefruit rind, bitter orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, lychee, violet, liquorice, wormwood & sage. Alcohol content is 16%.
On Sunday 17 March & Monday 18 March, each day at ProWein from 16.00–17.00, Monsieur Lurton will serve cocktails based on his vermouth at his booth (11/A28). If you are interested in ‘Los Chacayes’ and/or ‘Léonce’, please contact Andrea Schultes, Wine & Partners: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vermouth Léonce © François Lurton
What is the meaning of ‘Los Chacayes’?
Tracing this name back to its origins, one comes upon two widely divergent theories:
- Chacayes comes from ‘el Chacayay’, a native plant that grows on the hillsides and along the streams in the region. The fruit it produces, with a slightly lemony flavour, was part of the diet sustaining the indigenous peoples of the region.
- Another theory comes from the indigenous people who lived in the Uco Valley, the Huarpes Micayacs. They called the foxes that roamed through the region ‘chacayes’. ‘Los Chacayes’ is still home to the indigenous Huarpes, Puelches and ‘de los Tunuyanes’.
Where is Los Chacayes located?
…about eighty kilometres southwest of Mendoza, at high elevation. It is situated at 1000–1400 metres above sea level, in the hills of the upper Uco Valley. Only 1,600 hectares out of the total area of 102,500 ha are currently planted with vines. At the moment it does not look as if this area under cultivation could be augmented, due to the lack of an adequate water supply. The soils here are primarily quite rocky and barren, of an alluvial nature – but then, these offer the best conditions for the development of the vine.
Over the years it has become clear that varieties such as Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot & Cabernet Sauvignon are best able to cope with the prevalent conditions (soil, climate, etc.) here. Other, non-traditional varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Garnacha & Monastrell also offer impressive results.
What is a Geographical Indication?
This name refers to a product that originates from a region, place or geographical area that is demarcated in terms of territory and does not extend beyond established political boundaries. This status is justified only if certain characteristics of a product can be shown to essentially stem from its geographical origin. Resolution 249-E/2017 of the National Institute of Viticulture on 5 October 2017 provides that the region ‘Chacayes’ in the province of Mendoza is recognised, protected and registered as a geographical indication.