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Château des Tourettes

The Southern Outpost of a Burgundian Icon

Jean-Marie Guffens is not one for twiddling his thumbs. Leaving Flanders in 1976, Guffens first established his iconic Mâconnais estate, Domaine Guffens-Heynen, in 1979. Maison Verget, the bespoke negoce operation, followed soon after. With both properties well established, Guffens turned his gaze south. 

In the late 1990s, Jean-Marie Guffens and Maine Heynen began searching for a perfect doer-upper in the hills of southern France. Guffens had long felt the producers of this area were guilty of underselling the potential of their terroir. He believed that, as he had done in Mâcon, he could make a statement regarding the kind of quality that could be accomplished. In 1997, the couple found their perfect property a few kilometres from the beautiful Roman market town of Apt, in the foothills of the stunning Luberon mountain chain. One of the key selling points was a terroir rich in limestone and, at 420 metres it was high above sea level, so the vines would benefit from cool nights, and therefore slower maturation and flavour development. The other selling points according to Guffens—the scenery and the climate!

Guffens immediately set about revitalising the estate’s dilapidated facilities and run-down vineyards, which had been damaged by years of chemical treatments. Tourettes’ 14 hectares under vine were replanted with massale selections, including Chardonnay and Cabernet vines, meaning his wines would be excluded from the Côtes du Luberon appellation (no skin off Guffens’s nose). Then the cellar was fitted out with his modified vertical press, concrete tanks and barrels from Verget, creating a boutique Burgundian-style cellar in Provence.

For many years Guffens has released an ever-evolving, deliciously motley collection of red and white bottlings from the Tourettes estate. According to Jean-Marie’s whims, many wines could easily not have the same label two years in a row. Even we have found it hard to follow at times, but Guffens has now shifted focus to a more streamlined range, including a premium tier called Tinus, named after his grandfather, Martinus. In short, it marks a new era for Château des Tourettes.

Currently Available

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Blanc Pure Nature 2022

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Blanc Pure Nature 2022

Pure Nature is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Chardonnay, all drawn from Burgundy enfant terrible Jean-Marie Guffens’ provençal estate. Here, Guffens works with plenty of solids, enabling him to use minimal sulphur. The wine is fermented wild, aged in concrete and bottled without fining or filtration—pure nature! It is wonderfully dense and savoury, showing considerable concentration and weight, flavours of garrigue, pear and apricot fruit and a full-bodied finish offset by a mineral flourish.

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Blanc Pure Nature 2022
Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Chardonnay 2017

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Chardonnay 2017

This ‘Grand Cru’ Luberon white is drawn from a single plot of Chardonnay on Tourette’s l’Aigle terroir, a limestone plateau where the Chardonnay grapes stand out for their intensity and freshness. From here, Guffens believes he can craft prestige, age-worthy Chardonnays from the south and to back up this claim, he releases the wines five years after the harvest. Aware of the natural richness and density gifted by his terroir, Jean-Marie chooses to vinify only the purest and naturally tense free-run juices. Then he favours a short aging in barrels (25% new) for eight months, before subsequent aging in concrete vats, only on fine lees, for around 10 additional months. 

It opens with the creamy-textured richness of the south and flavours of yellow-fleshed fruits, sweet baking spice and candied ginger. On the palate, it is seductively mouth-filling, with juicy succulence pierced by assertive but balanced acidity. This type of hearty, open-textured Chardonnay is a bit of an endangered species these days. In this case there is plenty of the classic Guffens purity, precision and lingering mineral tension to balance the layers. It is drinking beautifully now.

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Chardonnay 2017
Chateau des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Chardonnay Plateau de l'Aigle 2022

Chateau des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Chardonnay Plateau de l'Aigle 2022

This ‘Grand Cru’ Luberon white is drawn from a single plot of Chardonnay on Tourette’s l’Aigle terroir, a limestone plateau at 400 metres where the Chardonnay grapes stand out for their intensity and freshness. From here, Guffens believes he can craft prestige, ageworthy Chardonnays from the south. Aware of the natural richness and density gifted by his terroir, Jean-Marie chooses to vinify only the purest, naturally tense free-run juices. Then he favours short aging in barrels (25% new) for eight months before marrying the wines in concrete vats, only on fine lees, for about three more months.

Chateau des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Chardonnay Plateau de l'Aigle 2022
Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Rouge d'une Nuit 2022

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Rouge d'une Nuit 2022

This idiosyncratic red from Jean-Marie Guffens marries a blend of Syrah and Cabernet left overnight on the marc (dry pressing) of old Grenache to take on more colour, fruit and structure. The wine is then aged in concrete tank to preserve freshness. Named after its one-night stand with the Grenache skins, it’s a vividly fruited, supple red with notes of strawberry and red berry fruit, sinewy tannins and a long, crisp finish.

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Rouge d'une Nuit 2022

Country

France

Primary Region

Provence

People

Winemaker: Jean-Marie Guffens

Availability

National

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