Bruno Lafon cut his winemaking teeth in Burgundy, but 20 years ago he ventured south to look for something new. “When you are in Burgundy, you have to do Burgundy and do what is written,” says Lafon. “In Languedoc, you have much more freedom to do whatever you want, which is why I like it.”
Still, after he started his winery, Domaine Magellan, located in the town of Magalas, north of Beziers, Lafon wanted to bring a Burgundian touch to his wines. “For me as a producer, I like to have elegant wines, balanced wines,” he says.
For his Magellan white, a blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne under the Languedoc AOC designation, Lafon does
alcoholic and 100% malolactic fermentation in used Burgundy casks, a unique approach for white wines from the area. Lafon believes the malolactic fermentation allows this wine to be more stable. “I started doing compete malolactic in 2011,” he explains. “And when I want to show people why I do this, I open up a 2011 and it’s very fresh and balanced with lots of minerality. And for me, that’s good proof.” The supple 2017 version (90, $22) shows rich  avors of apple and peach, with underpinnings of honey cream, mineral and butterscotch.
Magellan’s top red wine is a single-vineyard bottling sourced from a small site in the town of Pézenas. For this wine, Lafon’s goal is balance and elegance. To achieve this he uses northfacing Syrah and south-facing Grenache grown on sandstone soils, which are picked at the same time and fermented together using wild yeasts. Aging is done in used Burgundy barrels, followed by concrete tanks. The 2016 bottling (90, $25) is a sleek wine packed with fruit, pepper and mineral notes.
Sadly, Sylvie Legros, Lafon’s longtime business partner, died in 2018. Her death has caused Lafon to reevaluate the direction of Domaine Magellan. “I really want to make wine with even more expression, even more background,” says Lafon. Luckily, being in a region like the Languedoc, he has the ability to pursue any direction he wants. And who knows where that path might lead.
By Gillian Sciaretta
Nov 15, 2019