Interview with Michel Tardieu


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Since 1994, Michel Tardieu has been selecting and maturing wines from very old vines and from the best terroirs of the Rhône Valley crus. Associated until 2008 with Bourguignon Dominique Laurent, he now manages this small family business which plays in the big leagues...
Based in Lourmarin in the Luberon, a region from which he originates, Michel Tardieu has a real passion for vines and wine which led him one fine day in 1994 to take the plunge, he, the civil servant whom nothing predestined for this new career as a merchant. But this leap into the unknown was not really one: he knew the Rhône Valley like the back of his hand and had already established contacts with many winegrowers; and he had a choice trump up his sleeve, the Burgundian Dominique Laurent, an exceptional winegrower whose career he had followed and with whom he had become friends.
"At the time, my father already had his own tasting club which still works today, underlines a bit amused Bastien, the son, who also fell into the barrel at a very young age... He passed on his passion to us even before creating his trade. It was therefore obvious for him to join the family business, which he did in 2010 after a relatively classic career: BTS viti oeno and national diploma in oenology in Montpellier. His sister Camille, too, joined the company armed with a degree in marketing communication. With their mother Michèle, the whole family is therefore at the helm. And in tune with the paternal philosophy: to make wines that express the soul of the different appellations!
The Tardieu – Laurent house focuses on the quality of the grapes with drastic selections on plots of old vines and beautiful terroirs. To do this, you have to tirelessly criss-cross the Rhône Valley from north to south to unearth the most noble cuvées and convince the winegrowers to sell a small part of them. “In the 1990s, when my father started out, Rhone wines did not arouse much enthusiasm. All doors opened even in the most beautiful areas. And the bonds created then continue today.”
The Tardieu family works with a hundred winegrowers. Without specifications, just a vinification process established according to the characteristics of the vintage. With a proven method: after the harvest, vinification in the fields; then barreling at the time of devatting in the Tardieu-Laurent barrels which, in February, reach the cellars of Lourmarin.
All Syrah wines go into new oak barrels, those made from Grenache in “one wine barrels”. They are aged on fine lees in the reducing phase for 24 months. To preserve the purity of the aromas, there is no filtration for the reds and very little for the whites; and no gluing. And the result is there: from Becs Fins, the starting Côtes-du-Rhône, to Hermitage, the pinnacle, the Tardieu Laurent name has become a quality mark that wine lovers acclaim.
Jean Calabrese
Production: approximately 250,000 bottles, half of which are generic Côtes-du-Rhône (2 whites and 3 reds)
Appellations: all the wines of the Rhône Valley plus a red Bandol.
Vines: the Tardieu family does not have any. She is a 100% merchant-breeder
Sales: one third France for two thirds export; among individuals, wine merchants and restaurants
Contact: road from Cucuron to Lourmarin - Tel: 04 90 68 80 25 /