Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FRANCOIS LURTON Wines from Argentina by Philip S. Kampe




Francois Lurton is known as the ‘Flying Winemaker’ from Bordeaux.  Francois is a ‘Hands-On’ owner, winemaker, marketer, enabler that takes every wine from every vineyard that he owns (Spain, France, Portugal, Chile , Argentina)  through every step of the process from grape to bottle. He participates at each harvest of his estates in the northern and southern hemisphere. Making wines from around the world enables him to borrow techniques from different winemaking cultures.
Francois Lurton produces ‘Award Winning’ wines at each of his vineyards.
Today, there are 15 Lurton family members who make wine, which makes the Lurton Family the largest winemaking family in the world.
According to the Lurton Family, “ You won’t find a group like ours anywhere else. We are the only family in the world to have so many of its members all working in the wine industry. While each has their own individual business, synergies between different branches of the family tree naturally occur from time to time. By working together, like this, we like to think we’re giving those within our industry a clearer insight into our individual differences, in terms of who we are and what we do. Our family’s involvement in such a high caliber and range of business activity makes us extremely proud of what we produce. We’re delighted to share our passion for wine with you”.
Personality, respect for nature, high standards, independence and performance are the essential characteristics of the Lurton family.
And Francois has all of the above Lurton family characteristics plus above average business and entrepreneurial skills.
Francois uses a ‘Natural’ winemaking style striving to to preserve the aromatic intensity of the fruit in his wines, which gives them a freshness and purity of flavor as naturally as possible. His estates in South America are moving towards becoming biodynamic. In Europe where the disease pressure is greater, every effort is made to produce wine as naturally as possible. No herbicides are used in any of his estates.
Francois and his brother, Jacques, started working for their father, Andre, at several of his estates including Chateau Bonnet, Chateau La Louviere and Chateau Couhins Lurton. After school they decided to go on their own and create their own empire, as there were no signs of their father retiring. Francois learned a lot when he worked for his father at the estates, especially how to produce white wines. With that knowledge coupled with his enthusiasm for adventure, Francois searched the world for special terroir to show off his winemaking skills.
Francois was a true pioneer in Argentina. With his brother Jacques, Francois planted one of his first “Alto Valle  de Uco’ vineyards in 1995. Today, Valle de uco has become one of the most important areas of Argentinian viticulture. Situated at the foothills of the Andes appears black against the snow covered volcanic summits. The area is named ‘Piedra Negra’,which means black stone.
Francois winery is located in this special area and naturally shares the same name, Piedra Negra.  The wines I sampled were all from the Piedra Negra winery of Francois Lurton. I found the 2009  Malbec  to be elegant, yet complex, with pure, dark fruit overtones giving way to vanilla and tar. The aroma of wild strawberries danced in my mouth.
At $24 a bottle, I believe this smooth 14% alcohol wine is a true bargain.
The big brother 2009 Gran Malbec at 15.5% alcohol drank as smooth as a 13% wine. Velvety and seamless, the subtle dark fruit wine was a perfect match for lamb and a year old Sansuena cheese from Zamora, Spain.


Francois is a master winemaker, as his 2012 Bodega Piedra Negra Alta Coleccion Pinot Gris is a gem of a lively, fresh.citrus driven wine that sparkles at any event. The white grapes of this wine sing out a yearning for seafood. I paired this food wine with fresh oysters and shrimp ceviche. At $10 a bottle, it takes the guesswork out of finding a summer wine.
The Gran Lurton 2011 Corte Friulano stole the show. At $17 a bottle, this elegant wine is everything a white wine should be. Elegant and complex , this aeromatic tokay is in a  class of its own.
The collection of Bodega Piedra Negra wines are a commitment to get the best from this adopted land. Francois Lurton’s name is his guarantee of high quality wines at reasonable prices.  His signature is on each bottle.

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