“Terrasses du Larzac” in Languedoc becomes its own appellation

A few weeks back France gained a new appellation: AOC / AOP Terrasses du Larzac. It used to be a separate sub-designation within the greater Languedoc appellation: “Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac”. The INAO gave its approval on June 26, 2014 for it to become its own appellation, without any mention Languedoc. But was it a good idea?

The new Terrasses du Larzac appellation is located in an area west and north of Montpellier. It covers 2000 hectares spread out over 32 communes. There are 60 independent wine producers and 5 cooperatives. The altitude is between 80 and 200 metres. There are large variations in the soil but much of it is clay-limestone.

The wines from Terrasses du Larzac are archetypical Languedoc wines. They are made from the classic Languedoc varieties and often have a genuine southern warm style, full-bodied, with a lot of herbs and spices. The Languedoc garrigue.

Here’s a sign that now will have to be changed:

Terrasses de Larzac

Terrasses de Larzac, copyright BKWine Photography

The rules

Here are the key rules for the appellation:

  • AOC Terrasses du Larzac is only for red wines
  • The wines must be a blend of a minimum of three grape varieties
  • Five varieties are permitted: grenache, mourvèdre, carignan, syrah and cinsault
  • Maximum yield is 45 hl/ha
  • a) Grenache, mourvèdre, syrah and carignan must together represent a minimum of 75%. b) no single grape variety may represent more than 75%. These two rules apply to the planting in the vineyard (not the wines).
  • The wines should be aged (i.e. not released to the market) at least 12 months.

This is the second unique appellation that has come out of the once all-encompassing “Coteaux du Languedoc” (which no longer exists). The first “own” appellation was, curiously, the white Picpoul de Pinet.

We must of course say congratulations to the ambitious growers of this new appellation. They make excellent wines. They have of course made excellent wines for a long time. The new appellation is in a way a “government” recognition of the quality.

Vineyards in the Terrasses du Larzac

Vineyards in the Terrasses du Larzac, copyright BKWine Photography

But is it good?

The wines are, as I mentioned, good. Excellent. Delicious. Genuinely Languedoc.

But is this new appellation a good idea?

I am not so sure.

Many wine regions and micro-regions tend to insist that “we are different” and therefore they think that they should be recognised under a different name. Many a new appellation has been created like this.

Creating a new appellation also tends to force the wine producers to improve the quality of their wines, which is of course a good idea.

But from a consumer perspective and from a marketing & sales perspective I don’t think it necessarily is a good idea.

Languedoc is becoming a well-known name. In France it has, unfortunately, not the best of reputations, due to its history as a volume wine region. But outside of France “Languedoc” is well on its way to become well-known as a region in the south of France producing very good quality affordable wines.

But has any wine lover in the US or the UK, or China or any other significant market ever heard of Terrasses du Larzac? Hardly. Have they heard of the Languedoc? Yes, most likely, with a positive image of the south of France tied to it.

Does it make sense to change name from one that is becoming known for quality wines to one that virtually no one has heard of?…

So if the wine producers in Terrasses du Larzac want to export their wines, then I think it was not a wise choice. If they want to sell their wines only in France, then it was – perhaps – a good, or at least an acceptable choice.

It is again the decision of emphasising “we are unique” rather than thinking of what makes sense for the consumers.

Montpeyroux, Terrasses du Larzac

Montpeyroux, Terrasses du Larzac, copyright BKWine Photography

More excellent Terrasses du Larzac producers

BKWine’s guest writer David Furer has written a series of four articles on BKWine Magazine on wines and producers in the Terrasses du Larzac. He has met, among others, high quality producers Mas Cal Demoura, Mas de l’Écriture, Mas Jullien, Mas de Chimères and Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette as well as several others.

Read his four articles here:

We have written a book about the wines and the winemakers of the Languedoc. Unfortunately it is as yet only available in Swedish.

Languedoc, with the Terrasses du Larzac, is also a beautiful region to travel in. Languedoc is an excellent destination for a wine and food tour to enjoy the gastronomy of the south of France. You can travel there with BKWine.

Travel to the world’s wine regions with the experts in wine and the specialist in wine travel.

The unique wine tour experience!

Domaine duPas de l'Escalette

Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette, copyright David Furer

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2 Comments to “Terrasses du Larzac” in Languedoc becomes its own appellation

  1. Michel Smith July 7, 2014 at 16:24 #

    Regarding to your foret photo : Is Montpeyroux becoming a 1er Cru Terrasses du Larzac or is Terrasses du Larzac leaving Coteaux du Languedoc to become a Grand Cru, above Montpeyroux ? All this is terribly clear in my mind… ;-)

    • Per Karlsson July 7, 2014 at 16:37 #

      That’s a good question…. Tongue in cheek perhaps?

      From what I know, nothing is done with Montpeyroux. Which is perhaps a pity since it was a better-known name than Terrasses du Larzac. At least from what I could tell Montpeyroux was better known than TdL. Perhaps there should have been a Montpeyroux AC instead?

      I don’t think it will become a 1er cru, but perhaps a “cru”. In time, but not very soon, is my guess. Like Minervois La Liviniere?

      Yes TdL is leaving Languedoc (previously called Coteaux du Languedoc). But not to become a Grand Cru.

      I think they burned their fingers with this Grand Cru idea. Or rather, I hope they did. It was a very silly idea this with Grand Cru and Grand Vin in Languedoc, in my opinion, so I hope that is forgotten by now…

      But perhaps it is not? Do you hear any rumours about it?

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