A selection of Terrasses du Larzac growers (1/3)
David Furer continues his article on the Languedoc region called Terrasses du Larzac with some of his favourite producers. The Terrasses du Larzac is a sub-region in the northern part of the Languedoc where you can find many high quality producers. Here is the first instalment of David’s selection of producers.
Mas des Chimères
Nestled upon a tiny peninsula jutting out into the Lac du Salagou, certified organic grower Guilhem Dardé, considered by many younger winemakers to be one of the region’s spiritual fathers, has been working with his father and uncle since 1974, leaving the village cooperative in 1993 to create this ‘chimera’s’ wine.
Two types of soil characterize this territory; 250 million year old red Permian soils are the groundwork of those which bear the Coteaux du Salagou appellation while basaltic plateaus produce those bearing the Terrasses du Larzac appellation.
Dardé’s Nuit Grave blend has a preponderance of fruity Syrah making it a more commercially relevant blend, though not as authentic an expression of the terroir, as his Caminarèm.
Le Mas des Chimères
Octon 34800 Hérault
33 467 96 22 70
Having first worked with vines in Pic St. Loup, Laurent Vidal started in 2003 with Larzac vineyards purchased from friends in Aniane two miles away from his combination home and winery where his 31 acres (13 ha) of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Syrah are farmed biodynamically since inception. “It’s always sunny here but also very windy. The 35 ft. (10 m) high gorges framing our riverside funnel the winds from the plateau keeping moulds and funguses down making it easy to work biodynamically.”
Vidal works up to eight small quantity cuvées with only one labelled Terrasses du Larzac as it is the only one aged long enough to qualify for the appellation. A standout of his are 60 years vines of Carignan grown upon sand and pebbles over limestone. “Most of our work is in the vineyard; if you wait too long, to adapt in the winery, it’s then too late to make a great wine.” Oddly enough the nervosity of his wines increases as the soils are worked naturally, allowing an elegant style to emerge.
Route de Montpeyroux
34150 Saint Jean de Fos
Tél.: +33 4 67 57 77 42
mas.conscience @ wanadoo.fr
La Pèira en Damaisèla
Tricks of the light make one think that one is farther away than one might think looking across from the flatter and further reaches of Jonquières and St. André though the rockiness would allow one to think otherwise. A project shared by Robert Dougan, Jeremiah Depierre, and Karine Ahton, La Pèira totals 35 acres (14 ha) in production with a cellar finished in 2011 in which to work.
Organic without being certified, something commonplace for the Larzac, though atypical is that all reds here are certified within the appellation. “Sometimes old vines are too complicated to work with as very narrow and low to the ground they were designed for horses rather than mechanized work,” Dougan assures me adding that “many varieties are more interesting when old: Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan. I find our area’s Carignans very good but I prefer those grown in Roussillon and elsewhere on schist,” a soil type not found in Larzac.
La Pèira en Damaisèla
22 Rue du Portail
34725 Saint-Saturnin de Lucian
Tél.: +33 4 67 44 79 48
Le Clos du Serres
Along with his viticulturist wife Béatrice and his brother-in-law Nicolas Mollard, Sébastien Fillon works 36 acres (16 ha) of Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, and Grenache of 7-90 years of age purchased in 2006. The oldest Carignan is grown on ‘ruffes’ soils, a red soil of volcanic origin near the river which they promote as ‘their heritage’.
The chemistry-trained fellow studied a bit of wine in Beaujolais later deciding to be a farmer. He apprenticed with an organic grower supplying to Duboeuf where he learned to continue this practice meticulously treating each parcel and variety separately for the health of their specific needs so as to express the individuality of each, yet has only begun transitioning to being fully organic. “Our common point is freshness in the wines given by the Larzac plateau; grapes mature slowly from the cool air, the calcareous subsoil, and a reserve of water leached out of several sources as well as from the river,” Fillon told me.
Unusual trapezoidal concrete cuves are the foundation of the cellar à la those normally made this way from wood and steel. We started our tasting with a terrific 2010 Le Blanc comprised of 80% Grenache blanc and 20% Roussanne, restrained and minerally with understated acidity concurrent to the grapes and style … but it is not red so it is not Terrasses du Larzac.
Le Clos du Serres
Route du Viala, Chemin des Condamines
34700 St. Jean de la Blaquière
Tél.: +33 4 67 88 21 96
This is the second of four articles on the wines and wine producers in the Terrasses du Larzac. Read more here:
- Part 1: Terrasses du Larzac in the heart of the Languedoc wine region
- Part 2: Terrasses du Larzac wine producers (1): Mas des Chimères, Mas Conscience, La Pèira en Damaisèla, Le Clos du Serres [this article]
- Part 3: Terrasses du Larzac wine producers (2): Château de Jonquières, Mas de l’Écriture, Mas Cal Demoura, Mas Jullien
- Part 4: Terrasses du Larzac wine producers (3): Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette, Domaine de la Sauvageonne, Vignes Oubliées
(*) This article is a modified version of a text that was originally written as a “postcard” feature for The Sommelier Journal in the USA. Republished with permission.
If you want to know more about the wines and wine producers in the Languedoc you can read BKWine’s Languedoc book with Britt and Per Karlsson. But unfortunately it is currently only available in Swedish.
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Languedoc is one of the most exciting wine regions in France, full of young and entrepreneurial winemakers. If you want to experience it up-close, meet the winemakers, taste the excellent wines and enjoy the food you can come on a Languedoc wine tour with BKWine.
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