St-Jean de Fos, Languedoc
Mas Zenitude is formed of 6 hectares just outside of St. Jean de Fos in Languedoc, biodynamically farmed by Erik Gabrielson since 2006; and today with his wife Frances Garcia. It’s a very austere part of Roussillon, on the edge of the Gorges de l’Herrault, and characterised by its limestone and dense garrigue. Hot days are kept fresh by the fierce Tramontane wind, and even midsummer nights are sharply cool.
When Erik first acquired the conventionally-farmed estate, he recalls how barren it was; today, the loose-form vines are a verdant reserve for game, such as hares, birds and insects. Erik and Frances are particularly proud of their bats – creatures of great sensitivity who act as markers for the ‘purest’ natural habitats; and of the fact that the wild boar which live down by creek near the house have never touched their vines. The estate continues to evolve: next year they will introduce sheep to crop the vineyard grass, and further indigenous varietals, such as white grenache.
Erik learnt how to make wine through making it: with no formal training and coming to the very insular region both as a foreigner (he is a Swede), and, as a lawyer, from beyond the winemaking community. The wine here is produced to no recipe – Erik is clear about that. He has an idea, and he goes out and tests it against nature, which has its own ideas. His wines are made with no additions, but also eschew the funk that we might expect, and instead are some of the most gastronomic, elegant and classical, wines in our portfolio. They are, ultimately, food wines – made for the kind of restaurant spaces that he and Frances, avid gastronomes, love to eat in.