We recently paid a return visit to Paul Durand and were elated by what we tasted. Andrew Jefford describes him as a “peasant philosopher” (a sobriquet that Paul happily accepts), and also says, aptly, that “there is no more interesting person in the world of wine”.
Paul is a man of his region, speaking a wonderfully eloquent French in the heavy accent of the south-west. Devoted to the heritage of the Languedoc, he is nonetheless not above making wines from utterly non- traditional grapes if he feels that they have a statement to make about his terroirs.
His life in recent years has not been easy, but he has emerged from his troubles with a clarity of vision and a modest determination that translate into wines of unabashed power, endowed nonetheless with a grace and poise that are almost unheard-of in this region. Ever his own man, he was one of the very first producers in France to shun the Appellation Contrôlée system and make only “Vins de Table”. He has essentially reinvented himself by planting vines in long-abandoned vineyards buried deep in the nooks and crannies of his beloved Minervois hills. Without any special efforts on his part (he is somewhat averse to the hurly-burly of commerce), his wines have developed a cult following amongst a small band of cognoscenti. It is our confident belief that Americans will be added to their numbers when they experience these unique wines for the first time.