France – Laurent Miquel
Laurent and his team strive daily to achieve an upward spiral of quality on all wines. Their focus is concentrated at the beginning of the winemaking cycle i.e. on the vines themseleves. Although Languedoc has achieved enormous quality advances, particularly over the last fifteen to twenty years, Laurent believes that the possibilities for further improvement lie firmly in the area of vineyard management. The use of Culture Raisonée (this term was recently described by Jancis Robinson as ‘verging on organic viticulture’) is applied to vine growing in all Laurent’s estates. Laurent also believes strongly in the benefits of intervention by local and international specialists in areas such as irrigation, soil analysis and canopy management. Laurent does not believe in heavy intervention by the winemaker. Noble grapes from low yielding vines on the appropriate terroir should require minimal intervention to produce a fine wine. While Laurent believes strongly that quality oak selection and the use of appropriate modern and traditional winemaking techniques can add an element of consistency and character, ultimately a truly fine wine is the result of a year long intervention at the vineyard.