2018 Domaine Julie Benau 'Robot Cochon'
Region: Picpoul de Pinet < Languedoc < France
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, sand/limestone soil with lots of fossils; semi-carbonic maceration; bottled unfined/unfiltered with zero added SO2; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Julie Benau
LADY IN CHARGE: Julie not only took over her family’s Languedoc estate, but has made a name for herself with her envelope-pushing, often experimental, and always super low-intervention (zero-zero) wines -- an anomaly in this big, industrial region, where vineyards grow along the lagoons that are home to zillions of oyster beds.
NEW VINTAGE ALERT: We’re back with the 2018 vintage of last year’s runaway hit! A refresher on Julie’s story: The 16th century farmhouse estate in the Languedoc’s coastal backwoods was purchased by Julie's parents in 1980. At first, they sold all their grape production to the local co-op, but when daughter Julie came back home in 1999, she took charge and started making natural wine from the estate fruit. She focuses mostly on Picpoul, the area’s big grape, but we love her juicy, textural Tempranillo (a total oddball in the Languedoc). Fermentation is semi-carbonic, resulting in a vibrant, fruit-forward red that calls to mind grapey Beaujolais, but from the warmer south. Ummm, but why Tempranillo, a Spanish grape, in this coastal French region? Not sure. She just found some random Tempranillo vines growing on her family’s property and ran with it. We’re so happy that she did. It’s a totally different beast from its Spanish counterparts, with sweet, herbal black fruit, plums and black olive in an exuberant package. Drink with Mexican food!