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Burgundy negociants plan Pinot Noir takeover with Languedoc winery

Published:  06 June, 2016

Badet Clement, the winemakers behind Les Jamelles, have unveiled a multimillion-euro winery in the Languedoc - part of a strategy to improve the quality of the region by importing Burgundy "philosophy".

Burgundian winemakers Laurent and Catherine Delaunay have announced they are "here to stay" in the Languedoc region after twenty years producing flagship label Les Jamelles - a Languedoc staple on shelves and in bars of the UK.

The pair shares a vision of using the versatility of the Languedoc to grow quintessentially Burgundian grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and to promote the region away from its mass-market reputation.

The new winery has been built alongside the acquisition of Domaine de la Metairie d'Alon, an estate in Limoux composed of 25 hectares of vineyards purchased around 18 months ago.

Laurent Delaunay outlined his vision at the 20th anniversary celebration in Monze on Friday (June 3) where they have recently completed a 7 million euro project to build a vinification and aging facility.

Laurent, who founded Badet Clement with his wife, winemaker Catherine Delaunay, explained: "There was a cultural revolution in the Languedoc in the mid nineties. Everyone realised you can plant lots of different varieties of grapes and there was lots of interest in the Old World in the region because of this.

"For a long time it was fascinating for us to discover new grape varieties. Then we realised we had true family know-how in the Burgundy style of winemaking. We thought we can develop this further and drive quality. We're using what we have in our genes."

After two decades of developing Les Jamelles and three years searching for the right plots to take their strategy forward, Delaunay now feels the time is right is to push forward with their Burgundian agenda.

"It has taken us 20 years to really understand region," he said.

Badet Clement 20th anniversaryBadet Clement 20th anniversary

Since 1995, Badet Clement has been growing its flagship label Les Jamelles which currently offers over 27 grape varieties from across the Languedoc region.

Indeed, eagle-eyed devotees will notice that Badet Clement was founded 21 years ago, but the Delaunays decided to postpone their 20th anniversary celebration to coincide with the opening of the new Monze winery.

They are now hoping to "raise the standard of Languedoc wines" by bringing Burgundy winemaking philosophy to the region under their label Abbotts & Delauney label.

This summer they are launching their Le Village range - blends of single grape Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties from different plots of land across the Limoux estate.

"We are taking wine from different plots of land. One has good flavour, the other has good tannin, and so on," said Eric Moec, director of the new Monze winery.

They are also launching a premium single estate wine named Solaire after a plot of around three hectares in the South West of La Metairie, which is launching exclusively in the on-trade with Matthew Clark in September.

La Solaire vineyard Badet Clement Solaire vineyard Badet Clement

With roots in the Languedoc now for 20 years, Delauney intimated they have reached a glass ceiling in terms of developing a Languedoc approach.

"I don't want it to sound arrogant," Delauney added, "but there is less tradition in the Languedoc. Forty years ago people started talking about Californian wines, then Napa wines, then discovered smaller vineyards.

"When you start to make good quality wine, then you can find sites which are better than the others and devlop them to make the most out of them. Languedoc is ready to take that step. It's a natural evolution."

He now wants others to join his Languedoc revolution and is inviting them to see the region's potential in growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

"Limoux has huge potential," Delaunay said. "We want to show the market what it can offer. I believe that the region is very well-adapted for Pinot Noir but very few people have realised that so far."