Maison Tardieu Laurent

Maison Tardieu Laurent

Tardieu-Laurent is an almost unique operation in the Rhône Valley, a model that is much more commonly found in Burgundy and one that is a growing trend in Champagne. Somehow the French term for what they do fits more neatly, ‘micro-négociant éléveur haute couture.’

 In English, it roughly translates to ‘a specialist in the maturation of outstanding wines, from top sites, in very limited quantities.’

Michel took over full ownership in 2004, a moment that coincided with the arrival of his son Bastien, a newly qualified oenologist. The company name remained unchanged as did the modus operandi but from that point and continuing through to today, the focus shifted, with an emphasis on elegance and freshness. They still age the wines in small oak barrels but only for the first year and have greatly lessened the percentage of new oak, eliminating it entirely for their reds from the South.

Rhône Valley
FRANCE

These are extraordinary expressions of Rhône Valley wines, from North to South, ranking amongst the absolute best wines in each appellation. Each and every wine oozes elegance and precision. 

“Exceptional wines…the Tardieus are famous for the quality of their élévage.” Jancis Robinson

“A top-flight estate making a bevy of brilliant wines from both the Northern and Southern Rhône.” Jeb Dunnuck

“You touch the sublime at each bottle.” Guide des Vins, Bettanne & Desseauve

“A cutting edge négociant.” La Revue du Vin de France

“Bottom line … this is an extraordinary source of top quality wines.” Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

Viticulture

The story began in the early 1990’s when Michel Tardieu, a passionate wine lover, was a chauffeur for local government politicians of the Vaucluse département in the Southern Rhône, a job that meant he knew the layout of the region like the back of his hand. Hours spent waiting for his clients gave him plenty of time to reflect and eventually formulate a plan to produce wine without necessarily owning any vineyards. At the start, he partnered with Dominique Laurent, a Burgundian producer famed for his ambitious use of new oak. They set about developing an extraordinary address book of some of the finest growers in the Rhône Valley, with whom partnerships were formed based on an exchange of knowledge and ideas. There were no hard rules apart from determining the harvest date, which was decided by Tardieu- Laurent. The most important things were the vineyard sites, old vines and the ‘mode de culture’ or the viticultural approach. The law required the wines to be fermented in their respective appellations and they were made by the growers themselves but put into Tardieu- Laurent’s own barrels before malolactic fermentation. The following spring, the barrels would be collected and then taken to the company’s cellars in Loumarin in the Lubéron for further ageing. As the business developed, their vision diverged and Michel took over full ownership in 2004, a moment that coincided with the arrival of his son Bastien, a newly qualified oenologist. The company name remained unchanged as did the modus operandi but from that point and continuing through to today, the focus shifted, with an emphasis on elegance and freshness. They still age the wines in small oak barrels but only for the first year and have greatly lessened the percentage of new oak, eliminating it entirely for their reds from the South. The most important changes have come in the second year where in many cases they now use larger oval casks from the famed Austrian cooperage Stockinger as well as experimenting with sandstone amphorae and latterly porcelain ones for the whites. They have also asked the growers to do more whole-bunch fermentation to increase the sense of tension in the wines.

Winemaking

he Men are in the cellar, The women manage, all together they communicate a wine philosophy, transmitted fromMichel. A philosophy which involve a taste memory. A sensitivity acquired by tasting, eating anywhere, developing an olfactive and gustative palett, filled with respect and tolerance. All in all, not a theoretical conception of wine. “By never stopping tasting in the best winemakers cellars, we learn the great wine “culture”, essential ingredient to understand wine and “terroirs”… Michel Tardieu “Famille Tardieu has become one of the best micro-negociant in Rhone Valley. Nowadays, Bastien and Michel are exploring the vineyards to find grapes from very old vines, often located in the historical heart of each appelation. Then the link is made with the wine-grower, from the vine to the harvest. A real mutation has occured on the last vintages : large quantities casks, whole bunches vinification for some “Cuvées” and moreover, a leisurely ageing. You touch the sublime at each bottle.” Bettanne & Desseauve 2017

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