2018 Alain Chabanon «Merle aux Alouettes»
Region: France, Languedoc
Grape Variety: Merlot
Dry, full-bodied red; crushed velvet | Leg of lamb, well-seasoned
You can hear Alain himself talking about «Merle aux Alouettes» in this video.
As the son of two teachers, Alain grew up acutely aware of the culture of wine. His first dream career was to breed the majestic Aubrac cattle that graze in the Massif Central, close to where he grew up. In order to pursue his goal, he studied agronomy in Bordeaux. During his studies, his approach to wine did a volte-face, and by his final year Alain was specialising in oenology.
Following experience working in different regions of France, Alain placed a "Vines wanted" advertisement in the late-1980s and waited for the right plot to become available. By 1992, Alain had his first wine from old vines (this was one of his criteria when looking for a vineyard a few years earlier) in the village of Montpeyroux.
Today, Alain's wines are exemplary of what the Languedoc can achieve. Although not a region regularly in the spotlight, its producers can compete on a level playing field with the big boys. Most notably, in a 2004 MW-studded blind tasting, Alain's «Le Merle aux Alouettes» (a play on words, which alludes to the dominant Merlot grape variety in the wine) neatly pipped a Château Pétrus to the post, with Alain's coming out as the top wine in a flight of Merlot-based wines from around France.
Find out more about Alain here.