The ‘crazy german’ behind la petite revolution

Everyone has their favourite interaction with a producer. It can stem from a chance meeting at a trade tasting or a supplier bringing along a visiting winemaker.

For me, my favourite beginning to a relationship in wine was meeting Gregor Drescher, the ‘Master Brain’ (or ‘crazy German’ as I like to think of him) behind La Petite Revolution, a southern French project that caused me to rethink what a premium wine is.

It was around three years ago. I was setting up for an exclusive-use wedding and all systems were go: furniture was being rolled out, and staff were carrying around crates of mise-en-place when I looked over to see someone sat on a chair in an empty room reading the wine list.

I was told he was here to see me, so I went to introduce myself and Gregor said simply “I have decided you can buy wine”.

He liked the venue, my list and the way it was presented and was giving me permission to place an order.

Now if that isn’t a way to get a sommelier’s attention I don’t know what is. It really helped set the stage for the kind of style Gregor was going for, not only in his business ethos but in his approach to wine making.

Gregor certainly knows how to do things differently. For starters, he only makes six barrels of wine a year. In a good year.

Gregor Drescher – aka ‘the Mad German’

Secondly, he’s absolutely 100% committed to making something exceptional in an area usually more concerned with knocking out big volumes. And he manages it too.

Calling his wine ‘La Petite Revolution’ might have annoyed the locals, but it’s pretty much an accurate description of what he’s doing.

Gregor follows on his revolutionary setting by calling his first release Visionnaire. We sat down to taste the 2011, his first wine.

Something special

Once he poured, I could see this was going to be something special, from the first take on the nose through to the finish you could immediately see that this was made with passion.

The look on my number two’s face upon first taste is still something we laugh about to this day; his surprise and enjoyment was just so organic. I can’t blame him – I felt the same.

The way in which the characters melded together, the dark cherry against dark chocolate, acidity and tannin in absolute perfect harmony. It was incredibly powerful wine, yet smooth, with a long finish.

Due to the base of Grenache and the growing conditions in Var-en-Provence the wines of LPR are typically high in alcohol, around 14-15% so don’t expect light and delicate. Visionnaire comprises Grenache, Merlot and Syrah, aged for 30 months in new French oak barriques.

The second wine of the domain is appropriately named (following the theme) La Guillotine 2010. This wine consists of 50% saignée Grenache from 40-year-old vines and 30% white Grenache from 120-year-old vines,  spiced up with 20% Shiraz.

Based as it is on more concentrated Grenache this example really blew us away, and when we realised it was equal in quality to the first, but lower in price I signed off a few cases immediately.

Over the years I have met with Gregor at every opportunity to discuss and taste new vintages and generally catch up. It is always a pleasure to meet with such a dedicated and interesting winemaker.

Every wine he presents has a story from that year. Every barrel is cared for like a new-born child, greeted in the mornings and tucked in at night, each bottle numbered and signed and presented in beautiful individual wooden cases.

I could go on, but the reality is that you can only buy his wines with his express sign off and most vintages were sold out a while back. But should you have the chance to taste (or buy) do not miss it!

If he’ll let you, that is…

3 key pointers to understanding La Revolution

1Domain ethos: As Gregor puts it, ‘Where can you find perfect conditions to make a great French wine, with the precision of Bordeaux, the uniqueness of Burgundy and the power of Châteauneuf-du-Pape?’

2Caves: date back to 17th century, in Var-en-Provence

3Production: absolutely tiny: only six barrels per production. Two barrels for Visionnaire, two barrels of Salaux and one or two barrels of Guillotine (depending on the year).

Wines

Visionnaire – Grenache, Merlot, Syrah, £65-85

La Guillotine – Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, £50-65

Supplier: Based upon deals struck, so it varies. In the past I got mine through Nick Hillman at Wine Service, based in Lingfield, Sussex.

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