Laurent Miquel is a forward-thinking 200-hectare family-run estate, based in Cessenon sur Orb in the Languedoc region.
In a nutshell: Laurent Miquel is an eighth generation winemaker and was brought up on the family domaine at Château Cazal Viel in the heart of St Chinian. Following a career as an engineer, Laurent returned home in 1996 to work with his father, Henri (known locally as Monsieur Syrah), and in 2001 Laurent’s Irish wife Neasa joined the business. The ninth generation was secured with the arrival of their children, Sean and Alaina. Laurent Miquel owns over 200 hectares of vines in the Languedoc: 150 hectares at Château Cazal Viel, and an additional 50 hectares at Château Auzines, in Corbières, where Laurent and Neasa put down their own roots in 2009. The total Château Auzines estate is 270 ha – the rest of the land is left wild to the garrigue and wild boar, in line with the sustainability philosophy at the heart of this family business. They also created what they call a “lucky lake” at the domaine, to harvest rainwater which is used to ensure balanced elegant fruit. At Laurent Miquel, the focus is completely on quality, which Laurent believes starts and ends in the vineyard. Their estates are certified sustainable with the comprehensive HVE Level 3 certification.
The climate in the Languedoc is Mediterranean, although there are heavy rainstorms in winter. Unusually, Laurent has planted his vines in a north to south orientation, which protects the grapes from intense summer heat, creating natural balance. They harvest the grapes at night to preserve freshness.
The terroir: The estate is located on the southern tip of St Chinian on limestone soils, particularly suited to the production of Syrah, which Henri Miquel was among the first to plant in the 1970s. They were also the first to plant Viognier in 1992 and now have over 40 hectares. In Corbières, at Château Auzines, the terroir is also limestone, but there is a unique micro climate (high humidity, very large temperature differences between day/night). At 350 m altitude, in the foothills of the Pyrénees Laurent has planted 27 hectares of Albarino – the first French winemaker to plant Albarino in France in over 400 years! White wines thrive here owing to the cooler mornings and the breezes that come down from the mountains, which result in a vibrant and lively acidity in the wines.
The Laurent Miquel ‘personality’: The Languedoc is known throughout history for its revolutionary and independent spirit. The Miquel family are very much of this land, constantly on a quest to evolve and improve, with continuous small steps forward. In Japan, where Laurent has spent some time, this is referred to as Kai Zen.