Our good friend Guy Vanlancker is one of the most innovative and quality-minded producers in the Languedoc. He produces a range of Vins de Pays, Minervois and Minervois La Liviniere wines that represent excellent value for money and show how the best wines from this region have the ability to mature gracefully.
Guy is a Belgian former schoolteacher, who moved to the south of France in the late 1980's, in search of a complete change in lifestyle. He bought some old vines and, at vintage time, took the grapes to the local co-operative. Eventually, he bought some equipment and began to make a little wine himself. He now makes all the wine, in his own "cellar" (actually an old stone building, on three levels, crammed with barrels, vats and other winemaking equipment). The cellar is situated in the centre of the village of La Liviniere, in the heart of the "appellation" to which the village lends it's name - Minervois La Liviniere.
With some of the best vineyard sites, situated on hills above the village, the area in production at Combe Blanche is now around 15 hectares. Yields are low, ensuring full flavours and good concentration in the wines. (For the technically minded, average yields in Languedoc average 50-60 Hectolitres per hectare. At Combe Blanche, yields average around 30 h/l ha).
The red Minervois and La Liviniere wines are blended from the traditional southern grape varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault. Each variety is vinified and aged separately, some in oak barrels and some in vat, before blending and bottling. The La Liviniere wines are usually released at three years old, whilst the Minervois are released a little earlier. Guy also has Roussanne, Viognier, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo, from which he makes a varity of brilliant Vins de Pays. He likes to experiment, so he makes different cuvées in different years, depending on the style and quality of the vintage.
In her book "The Wines Of The South Of France", Rosemary George M.W is fulsome in her praise when describing a tasting session in M.Vanlancker's cellar of various vintages of the different wines. She finishes by saying... "There is no doubt that Guy Vanlancker deserves greater recognition, for his wines are stylish and individual." We couldn't agree more. Try them for yourself and see what great terroir and top-class winemaking can achieve in the Languedoc.