Jean-Marc Lafage’s family has been growing grapes in Roussillon for six generations but it was Jean-Marc who had the ambition to stop selling the grapes to the local co-op and create a domaine. He and his oenologist wife, Eliane, founded Domaine Lafage in 1996 and the estate now runs to some 138 hectares of vines across Roussillon, with parcels in the Agly Valley, Aspres and Perpignan.
The Agly Valley, with its black shale and layered schist soil in the shadow of ruined Cathar castles is one of Europe’s most exciting terroirs. Eliane and Jean-Marc specialise in growing old vines that impart pronounced minerality and concentration to their wines.
The region is best known for its red wines, but don’t forget to try the whites and Rose too. Grenache Blanc is one of the most underrated grapes in the world of wine and Domaine Lafage produces some of the very best we have ever tasted including the stunning Miraflors Rose.
This range of sites allows them to make both refreshing whites as well as concentrated reds and, this being the Roussillon, some fortified wines as well. Benefiting from a warm, dry climate, the estate is farmed organically. They grow primarily Grenache (Blanc, Gris & Noir), Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Marsanne, Roussanne and Chardonnay with a significant proportion of the vines well over 50 years old.
Terroir of the Agly
The Agly is the northernmost of the three rivers of the Roussillon, and if we follow it up towards the source, we reach an area of exceptional terroir, rooted on black marls and shale laminates called ‘schist’, and swept by strong winds from the mountains. We come here to seek the classic Catalan grapes Grenache, Carignan and Muscat, which develop incredible concentration and flavor on these harsh dry slopes.
The flat plain around Perpignan is made up of river pebbles, silts and clays with limestone base. The flat vineyards are well exposed to the same ‘tramontane’ wind, and these conditions are ideal for our parcels of 100-year-old Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris vines, as well as the Mourvedre wines we use to produce our rosés.
Terroir of the Aspres
Up close to the foot of the Pyrenees and the Spanish border, our Les Aspres vineyard is based on soils of marble and schist, and located at 400 meters of altitude, planted in terraces that follow the contour lines. This is a microclimate that gets extremely warm in the summer, and is also strongly exposed to the tramontane wine. Ideal for Carignan, Grenache and Muscat of Alexandria, part of which is planted to traditional bush vines or ‘gobelet’.