Pèira Levada, The Velvet Underschiste
A blend of 50/50 Grenache and Syrah on schist soil delivers pure juice with loads of jammy black fruit and a hint of spice. A must for lovers of music and great wine. A little spritzy on the tongue when opened, swirl if that's not your bag, or savour it if it is!
Grapes: Syrah, Grenache
Place: Languedoc, France
The son of Bergerac winemakers, Alexandre Durand established his own domaine ‘Pèira Levada’ in 2018: a patchwork of 12 tiny parcels, totalling at 4 hectares. Along with his partner Sybil Baldassare, who has her own project focusing on the white varietals of the area: ‘La Grain Sauvage’; the pair relocated to Faugères in 2014 after work in the Dordogne, Italy and Burgundy.
Convinced that the greatest terroirs in the world are on schist, settling in the north of the Languedoc was an easy choice for Durand; few appellations in France reach the wild beauty of Faugères. Keen not to disrupt the balance of life in his parcels, Alexandre practices no-till organic agriculture with biodynamic principles. His cover crop grows wild, protecting his soils and promoting a rich life underground.
Whilst half of his parcels are on the iconic schist of the appellation, the other half give the domaine its name. Right on the edge of Faugères, these clay heavy soils are pocked with raised spines of marble breaking through the surface: pèira levada or 'raised stones' in Occtitan dialect.
Alex's vinification philosophy is simple. To respect the terroir he does long, delicate macerations of two to three months with no punching down or pumping over. All the work is in fibreglass to let the wines speak for themselves, recognising that the wines of region can often develop a woody character all of their own, and besides: he's tired of cleaning barrels.
His parcels on marble and clay give wines with a lively, driving attack- a little more wild at heart than those on schist, which are typified by a rounder profile: elegant, saline and long. All the wines share a beautiful balance between structure and freshness. Zero sulphur since 2017, Alexandre is careful to not become dogmatic with his approach: if a cuvée feels fragile, he wouldn’t rule out using a little sulphur to protect it. Fortunately in recent years it hasn't been necessary. We’re really excited with the work Alexandre is doing in Faugères, a region thats well deserving of the attention to detail he is pouring into it.