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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 Jean-Marie Guffens’ Provençal estate. Here, Guffens works with a six-hour press, ensuring plenty of solids and enabling him to use minimal sulphur. The wine is fermented wild, aged in concrete and bottled without fining or filtration. It is wonderfully textured and aromatic in style, with all kinds of skinsy orange, apricot and peach fruit shot through with peel and blossom and a nice salty close derived from the vineyard’s rocky soils. It’s the kind of wine that comes alive at the table. Match with Alice Walter’s Chicken with Rosemary and Thyme, or something equally as delicious.

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Blanc Pure Nature 2022
Château des Tourettes Vin de France 18 de Moyenne Blanc

Château des Tourettes Vin de France 18 de Moyenne Blanc

For those new to Guffens’ multi-vintage wines, they are crafted something like a perpetual blend (as opposed to a true solera), whereby the base is refreshed each year with new vintage wines. At the same time, a similar percentage is bottled off to order. Marsanne-based, with decreasing amounts of Roussanne, Viognier, Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon, the juice is stored in 200-hl variable capacity tanks on lees. Hence, the wine stays fresh and develops slowly. This, alongside the different varietal proportions added each year, means there is a degree of vintage variation with each new bottling. The aged material brings complexity and texture, and the young wines bring freshness and verve. It really works. This particular bottling is based on the 2018 vintage; hence, the name (moyenne means ‘the average’). Expect a gluggable potpourri of chalky yellow fruits from the Roussanne, the waxy touch of Marsanne and the brioche-like complexity of Chardonnay, with a pulse of preserved lemon and white pepper balancing out the fleshy structure. It finishes fresh with a pinch of food-friendly phenolics, even if the wine is delicious all on its own.

Château des Tourettes Vin de France 18 de Moyenne Blanc
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 deliciously quirky red from Jean-Marie Guffens is a blend of Syrah and Cabernet left overnight on the marc (dry pressing) of old-vine 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 red, popping with notes of peppery spice and red berry fruit before a thirst-quenching, poppy-seed finish. A lovely bistro-style red.

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Rouge d'une Nuit 2022
Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Grand Blanc Chardonnay 2017

Château des Tourettes Vin de France Tinus Grand Blanc 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 prestigious, age-worthy Chardonnays from the south and releases this bottling with age to prove it. 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 on fine lees for a further ten months.It opens with the creamy-textured richness of the south and flavours of yellow-fleshed fruits, sweet baking spice and a wisp of smoky reduction. It is seductively mouth-filling on the palate, with juicy succulence and some nutty complexity pierced by tight 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 and lingering mineral tension to balance the layers. It is drinking beautifully now.

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

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

This wine is the younger release of the Grand Blanc offered above, also drawn from the l’Aigle terroir. 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 on fine lees for a further ten months. It shares the same hazelnut-oil richness, rolling fruit and creamy texture as the 2017, joined by summer flavours of quince jelly, pineapple and apricot coulis, all carried by the tangy freshness of citrus peel and some chalky, driving acidity.

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

Country

France

Primary Region

Provence

People

Winemaker: Jean-Marie Guffens

Availability

National

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