edited by Sue Courtney
© Sue Courtney, 20th March 2002
Jacques Lurton touched down in Auckland yesterday and so, of course, a tasting was arranged. As he and his brother own vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, the question was asked 'Are you looking for vineyards to buy in NZ?' The answer was no, the reason being that they like to visit their vineyards on a regular basis and the feasibility of travelling regularly to NZ was not on. The Lurton's used to have vineyards in Australia. Jacques spent a couple of years there in '84 and '85. But they have let the vineyards there go for the same logistical reasons. He manages to visit his South American vineyards at least once a month, however.
Lurton produces 64 labels from their vineyard around the world, although 44 percent of their wines come from the Languedoc in France. In each country they have their own production facilities, winemakers and other essential staff.
We tasted a few wines from four of the company's countries.
Bodega Lurton Pinot Gris 2001 (Argentina) Grown 1100 feet above sea level on the foothills of the Andes, Lurton says this is a semi-continental climate similar to Alsace. I liked the varietal pear aromas on this dry nutty wine. If you get a good bottle you should find richness of flavour with stonefruit fleshiness, lemon skin zestiness, orange citrus powderiness and a spicy mouthfilling length. If you get a bad bottle the wine will be flat with an oily steely flavour. Having tasted the wine on two occasions, and both times the first bottle showing a 'dullness' bought on by very slight TCA infection, I am a little wary to recommend this wine fully. I would say buy it the day you tend to drink it. Open it in the shop and check that it is indeed OK. The wine was made in Argentina by Anna Martens, ex Petaluma. She spent a vintage here in Auckland at Matua Valley between the A's. RRP NZ$15.95.
Les Bateux Merlot 2000 (Carcasson region, Languedoc) There's no oak in this leather and spice smelling wine. In the mouth there's dry spice at first then the wine fills out with some crisp rose and juicy plum flavours. There are medium tannins. Some herbs and a marmite savouriness that lingers. I found this wine a little odd, despite all the wonderful reviews it has received by high profile wine writers. NZ$14.95
Les Bateaux Syrah 2000 (Carcasson region, Languedoc) Very, very shy aromas on this second unoaked wine in a row. There are medium tannins, juicy plum fruit and cracked pepper spice. A partial carbonic maceration contributes to the sweet fruit finish, I'm sure. There's a moment when dry tannins dominate but I like the savoury fruit flavour that lingers. NZ$14.95
Les Salices Syrah 1999 (Northern Corbieres appellation, Languedoc)
Terra Sana Vin de Pay d'Oc 2000 (Languedoc)
Chateau de Merville Corbieres 1998 (Languedoc)
Bodega Lurton Piedra Negra Malbec 1999 (Argentina)
El Abar Toro Excellencia 1998 (Spain)
Lurton Gran Araucana Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (Chile)
The J&F Lurton wines are imported into NZ by Bennett and Deller and the wines under $30 should be widely available throughout the country, although not in supermarkets. The more expensive wines are probably only likely to be found in restaurants and fine wine stores. Website http://www.jflurton.com/anglais/vins/vins.htm.