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Region: France - Languedoc
Terroir: Terrasses du Larzac
Virgile Joly acquired his first tiny parcel of vines in Saint Saturnin at the foot of the Larzac in 2001. A terroir made up of stone and clay river terraces sweeping down to the riverbank itself, blessed by the Lanquedoc climate and ventilated by the annual Tramontane and Mistral winds.
Virgile has always farmed organically and was certified organic in 2001. He originally made the majority of his wines under the AOC Coteaux du Languedoc – Terrasses de Larzac appellation with Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault grapes from 25–50 year old vines. These grapes were all individually selected and hand harvested directly from the vines and transported to the cellar in small crates.
Shortly after setting himself up as a new young farmer, the author Patrick Moon spent a year with Virgile and wrote “Virgile's Vineyard”. The book recounts Virgile’s experience as a wine-grower, woven around the history of Languedoc's wine production, contrasting Virgile's approach with that of his neighbour Manu. Originally published in 2003, this was reissued in an extended edition by Matador Books in November 2013 and is a very enjoyable read.
Sadly (in some ways, no doubt there's a silver lining) Virgile went over to the Naked Wines model in 2011 which seemed a shame, but we hear that he has now found funding to develop independently again which must be good news as his winemaking talent is rare indeed. For the moment though we cling to the few cases of his work from his most "authentic" and original phase.