Domaine du Murinais – The Seventh Generation
Luc & Catherine Tardy of Domaine du Murinais
A seventh generation grower, Luc Tardy of Domaine du Murinais lives with his wife Catherine in a house that has been family occupied since it was constructed in 1774. Attached to the house and built around a courtyard in 1683, the currant cellar was once rented by his ancestors to a convent, where the nuns would gather and exchange goods with the monks who lived in an abby in the Alps a few miles away. In another section where barrels now reside, a stable once held horses. Farming organically since 2003, Luc is the first of these seven generations to make and bottle wines from select estate parcels, which for many years had instead supplied fruit to the local co-op (most recently Cave de Tain) in Crozes Hermitage.
Domaine du Murinais
Located on the plain outside Beaumont-Monteux, Domaine du Murinais farms four plots that hold 15ha of Syrah and 1ha of white varietals, yielding less than 6,000 cases a year. The Domaine du Murinais Crozes Hermitage Vieilles Vignes is made from 2ha of 65-year-old vines at Les Croix, 1ha at Le Port, and 1.5ha on Les Amandiers – both of which hold vines that are 35 and 65-years-old.
Making only three red wines and one white, Luc keeps his yields low in the vineyard, where he allows grass and herbs to grow. Harvested by hand in the cool hours of the morning, the fruit is then table-sorted and partially de-stemmed (depending upon the vintage) before being deposited into concrete tanks. Employing only natural yeasts, Luc allows for a long, five-day maceration followed by a two week fermentation. And while he used to conduct piage, Luc found that it was extracting too much and so now, aiming for more elegant wines, he only pumps-over twice a day at morning and at night.
In the cellar at Domaine du Murinais
Using barrels from a variety of coopers, Tardy prefers Damy from Burgundy (especially for his white), because like Paul Vendran of La Ferme St Pierre, Luc believes that there are “more barrels made than what the named forests can provide, but with Damy, you see the wood selected.” Of other coopers, he said, “Haut-Brion will get the top barrels, but everyone else?”
Aged in one-to-four-year-old barrels for one-year, Domaine du Murinais Crozes Hermitage Vieilles Vignes 2010 saw an excellent vintage with exceptionally low yields. For the 2011 vintage, Luc opted for two bottlings because he felt that the wine was still too tight for release after 12 months in oak, and so he decided to transfer the wine to cement tanks for another 6 months of aging.
While visiting, we had the opportunity to taste both, before sitting to a lovely lunch of local fare prepared by Catherine. With just 12 months in oak, the Vieilles Vignes 2011 shows meaty/black olive savory notes beneath violet flowers with dark fruits and leathery tannins on a pepper finish.
With an additional 5 months in cement, the Vieilles Vignes 2011 has more pronounced floral notes and lighter fruit that’s brighter with soaring acidity, settled tannins and less bitterness from the black olive brine notes on the long finish. It’s a beautiful wine.
In regard to a trend that’s appearing across the appellation, Luc used to get phenolic ripeness at around 12% abv, but with climate change the average is now 12.5%, and so he’s experimenting with even lower yields to see if he can stave off any further increase.