We visited the Domaine De l’Hortus in the middle of July, about six or seven weeks ago. From the moment we arrived at the winery the impression I got was one of control and planning. Even superficially, l’Hortus is different to most of the other vineyards and wineries we had visited. The winery is housed in a stylish and modern building. No ancient Chateau or vaulted cellars here. Just clean lines, state of the art equipment and efficient use of space. Not that l’Hortus is disengaged from nature. Quite the opposite, in fact. Martin and Yves Orliac, the brothers behind l’Hortus, have organised everything at Domaine De l’Hortus specifically to make the most of the grapes, the soil and the weather. As we walked the vineyards, Martin Orliac explained their need for meticulous planning. Domaine De l’Hortus has a wet Mediterranean climate with 1000mm of annual rainfall poured into a couple of torrential days. This means that vine varieties need to be planted on land that supports their varietal characteristics, in soil that encourages deep rooting for hydration. It also means that autumn storms cause a tension with the ripeness of the grapes. Just as the grapes are reaching their peak maturity, a downpour can threaten the harvest. The Orliac’s solution is to rely on precise weather forecasting and rapid machine harvesting. This allows them to capture their crop at the pinnacle of ripeness. Martin carefully watches the weather and his grapes and deploys his harvesters at exactly the right moment, harvesting at night to save the freshness of the fruit. Bergerie l’Hortus Classique Blanc grow in the Domaine’s lowest vineyards, situated on a cool valley floor where they ripen slowly. Domaine De l’Hortus harvests them last of all, giving each variety as much time as possible to develop acidity and achieve its aromatic potential. Bergerie l’Hortus Classique Blanc combines ripe fruit flavours, crisp acidity and delicate stone fruit aromas. As you savour the wine, subtle flavours emerge to tell you about the flowers, herbs and stony ground of Domaine De l’Hortus. Bergerie l’Hortus Classique Rouge Bergerie l’Hortus Classique Rouge. A blend of Syrah and Mourvedre grapes, this Coteaux du Languedoc shows off the intelligence of the planting at Domaine De l’Hortus. Mourvedre is a grape that loves the sun and so is grown on south-facing slopes. On the other hand, Syrah ripens more easily and can tolerate more humidity, so grows on the north-facing slopes. The result of giving these grapes their fullest expression, then combining them is a complex inky wine with dark fruit flavours and spicy aromas. Beguiling scents of heather and herbs make this wine a classic Languedoc red. The Bergerie l’Hortus Classique Blanc and Rouge will be open for tasting in Arnotts and Mullingar from Monday, the 28th of August. You’re more than welcome to come and experience the fruits of the Orliac’s meticulous attention to detail at Domaine De l’Hortus.