Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-Roussillon

Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos

GirlsGottaDrink is excited about our new Winemaker Interview Series. It’s the perfect time of year to start as harvest is going on throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Get to know more about the wine making journey of the men and women who bring us happiness in a bottle.

Let’s meet Paul Old from Les Clos Perdus in the French wine region of the Languedoc-Roussillon.

Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-RoussillonIl Ragazzo and I were lucky enough to taste the wines of Les Clos Perdus, poured by Paul himself, during a trip to the South of France in August.

Welcome to Les Clos Perdus!

Winery Owners: Paul Old, Hugo Stewart
The Name: Les Clos Perdus means the lost vineyards. During our visit the Australian and Englishman said they were “stunned” by all the old varieties no one wanted to try. Due to isolation, potential for low crop yields, and lack of mechanization many vineyards had been disregarded by large producers. These factors allowed them to buy select parcels of old vines throughout the area.
Winery Location: Le petit village of Peyriac de Mer in the South of France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-Roussillon

The Vineyards: Their grapes come from three terroirs:

  • Corbières maritime: These coastal plain vineyards produce the winery’s primary grapes of Mourvédre and Carignan. Mourvédre flourishes with the deep, damp clay soil, moist Mediterranean air, and vines that reach down to the water’s edge. Carignan is on the slopes leading up the hills – the best vines were planted in 1905.
  • Hautes Corbières hills: These inland hilltop vines are surrounded by garrigue (a soft-leaved scrubland ecoregion and plant community), which is prime for organic production. The lighter clay soil drains well with its abundance of stone. Grenache and Cinsault sit side-by-side here. 
  • Roussillon – Agly Valley: The hilly vineyards are steeped in grey and brown schist. The vines fight for survival against the gusting wines. The vineyards produce low yields of intensely flavored Grenache and Syrah.

Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-Roussillon

The Wines:

  • Red: L’Extreme (75% Llandoner Pelut, 25% Syrah), Mire La Mer (55% Mourvédre, 35% Carignan, 10% Granache), Prioundo (AOC Corbières: 80% Grenache, 20% Cinsault), Le Cuvee (AOC Corbières: 50% Cinsault, 35%, Grenache, 15% Mourvédre), Le Rouge (AOC Corbières: 65% Mourvédre, 35% Grenache).
  • White and Rose: L’Extreme Blanc (Granache Gris, some Granache Blanc), Le Blanc (100% Macabeo from 100 year old vines), Le Rose (95% Mourvédre, 5% Cinsault).

Winemaker Interview: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus

GirlsGottaDrink: As a winemaker, is there a vintage that means the most to you?

Paul Old: Our first vintage at Les Clos Perdus was 2003. This is when the learning curve began. Much of it evolves by trusting your senses and running with your decisions, there is no time to look back during vintage as it all happens so quickly. This was my first vintage as winemaker and by the end of it I was hooked.

GirlsGottaDrink: What vintage taught you the most?

Paul Old: The 2005 vintage produced wonderful fruit, small berries, great acids and rich ripe fruit. As a winemaker I got overly-excited and was too active in the cellar. It taught me to sit back as much as possible and let the wine make itself. 

Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-Roussillon

GirlsGottaDrink: What grape varietal do you find the most exciting and challenging, both for drinking and production?

Paul Old: The longer we spend working with biodynamics and organic viticulture the more we focus in on the specific terroir of a vineyard rather than its varieties. The roots dig deeper and resonate what’s unique about that certain vineyard. The challenge is being sensitive enough to hear these terroir qualities and skillful enough to be able to lead them to the bottle. 

GirlsGottaDrink: What is your favorite part of the wine making process?

Paul Old: I love it all from pruning to just before bottling. Bottling scares me, so much can go wrong at bottling.

GirlsGottaDrink: What qualities do you look for in the wines you make and drink?

Paul Old: At Les Clos Perdus we focus on elegance, balance, and the interplay between fruit and more savory character, but, most importantly each wine should be a true expression of time and place.

Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-Roussillon

GirlsGottaDrink: Les Clos Perdus uses corks vs other options for sealing bottles – why?

Paul Old: I’m still convinced that cork allows a wine to develop in the bottle like no alternative. I like to play with plenty of solids and lees contact during the making process. If I were to change closure I’d also have to change my winemaking process.

I think you need to know which closure you are going to use as the grapes come into the cave. At the moment I’m thinking cork.

GirlsGottaDrink: What is one piece of advice you’d give a new wine drinker?

Paul Old: Trust and listen to your own palate and let it develop and lead you on an exciting journey.

GirlsGottaDrink: How did you fall in love with wine?

 Paul Old: A bottle from Katnook in the Coonawarra.

 I love the idea that this time capsule, being liquid in a bottle, can transport you to a particular time and place and culture.

GirlsGottaDrink: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done for wine?

Paul Old: Started a winery.

Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-Roussillon

GirlsGottaDrink: After tasting your wines, I am very glad you did! Thanks for your time, Paul. I look forward to a return visit to Peyriac de Mar. 

Bonus: Winemaker Interview with Hugo Stewart

Ready for a Glass of Les Clos Perdus?Winemaker Interview Series: Paul Old, Les Clos Perdus, Languedoc-Roussillon

We loved all the wines when we visited. The whites, as Paul described for us, make you want to sit outside with a glass of wine and bucket of fresh oysters. Read more on Paul’s wine making methods and find a bottle of Les Clos Perdus to taste for yourself. Visit them in Peyriac de Mer or contact them for importer information. Wines are available in the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and Spain (Catalonia). Follow the winery’s latest news releases on Twitter or Facebook.

Coming up in the Winemaker Interview Series: Francesco Baravalle from Cascina Bruciata in Barbaresco. 

Thanks for reading! V-dawg OUT.

Song Pick! It’s a Beautiful Day, U2

What questions do you have for the winemaker? Lemme know!

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