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Le Mazel

Gérald Oustric is a a legend of legends! Name any vigneron in Ardèche; Andrea Calek, Jérôme Jouret, Sylvain Bock or Anders Frederik Steen, and they’ll take a deep bow to this man, because they owe him so much.

Gérald took over Le Mazel in Valvignières in southern Ardèche from his father back in 1982, and today he is running the place with his lovable sister Jocelyne. The domain counts 22 hectares of vineyards planted with local grape varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Portan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Merlot on the red side, and Viognier, Chardonnay and Grenache Blanc on the white side. The underground consists of limestone, clay and sand and have an average age of 50-65 years for the blue grapes and 20-25 for the green grapes, which is really quite unusual to find in Ardèche where indigenous varieties like Portan and Chatus have been rooted up and replaced with more rewarding varieties such as Merlot or Grenache. Sadly this has also been the case with old vineyards in the region, simply because they don’t produce high enough yields for the cooperatives’ taste.

The fact that Le Mazel is situated in the upper part of the Ardèche valley which funnels the Mistral, a strong, northwesterly wind that blows from southern France, has a cooling effect even on the southward facing vineyards. And this is the key to Mazel’s fresh and mineral wines with high acidity and remarkably low alcohol contents for the region.

Le Mazel has been certified organic since 2002, but Gérald has been practicing organic and biodynamic farming since he first took over the domain. The vines are pruned by hand, no pesticides or herbicides are being used in the fields and even though the domain covers a large surface all grapes are manually harvested.

In the cellar the green grapes are pressed directly whilst the blue grapes are macerated sem-carbonically after the example of this vigneron friends in Beaujolais. After having used barriques for a number of years, Gérald is now doing all fermentations in steel tanks and long aging by the bottle. 

It goes without saying that the wines are unfined and unfiltered and that no sulphur is added during the vinification process or after bottling. In fact Gérald was one of the first winemakers in the region along with Gilles Azzoni to produce 100% natural wines. 

In order to protect the wines from oxidation, the wines are always bottled with a little bit of residual sugar, something that creates a light, bubbly mouthfeel and emphasizes the freshness in the wines.

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