Emmanuel Pageot, who makes wine with partner Karen Turner in the Languedoc, declares his passion as being “salinity” in wine, something beyond “minerality”. He concedes neither minerality nor salinity come directly from the soil but argues that the particular micro-organisms in various soils are crucial in determining the ultimate drinking experience.
He was speaking at a tasting facilitated by Bruce Jack of Overberg property The Drift, entitled “Principles vs Practicality – An Investigation into Biodynamic and Natural Winemaking”. When it comes to capturing salinity, a deep root system and high humus levels are crucial in the vineyard. Winemaking is also important – whites need a must that’s not too clean and some skin ferment; reds need very little “cap management” and an extended post-ferment maceration.
It’s ultimately as much about how wines make you feel as technique, however. For him, basic physical pleasure is based around the stomach but greatness (whether fine art or wine) is more cerebral and he refers to “verticality” – those wines which take you from your stomach to your brain. 20th century technology facilitated wines with precise, clean fruit but a growing maturity among consumers and producers alike means a shift to wines of true vibrancy and resonance, something that equates to a desire to discover the “essential purity” in life.
His B815 2013, a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre, was stand-out. Similar aromas and flavours to what you might expect on top-end SA Grenache (red and black fruit, scrub, earth, a little smokiness, liquorice) but a little more restraint and lightness of being despite an abv of 14%.