Vinopolpick Weekend May 10

May 10, 2014


and beyond!

The south of France is home to several diverse wine producing regions grouped together under the name Languedoc-Roussillon.  These areas compose about 25% of vineyards in the country.  The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot summers on the dry scrubland known as garrigue.The South of France has a long history of wine making, beginning in Roman times.  In the 8th century, the Benedictines founded the Monastery of Aniane in the area and planted and tended vineyards.  In the 16th and 17th centuries, agricultural production expanded rapidly as land was cleared to plant olives, almonds and grapevines by royal decree.  The mountain road Pas de l’Escalette was built during this time, allowing for easier movement of the region’s eau de vie.

After the devastation by powdery mildew and phylloxera in 1850, vineyards were replanted with bulk grape varieties.  The region gained a reputation for producing mediocre and rustic bulk wine.   Today, however, individual AOCs are refocusing on quality production from their unique terroir and producing richly aromatic and long-lived wines.

Terrasses du Larzac AOC and Mas Jullien

Within the Languedoc in the South of France is the Terrasses du Larzac AOC.  The AOC was granted in 2004.  It is uniquely situated in the Languedoc atop the Larzac plateau.  Vineyards are exposed to cooling breezes and during the summer, the temperature can vary up to 68 degrees between the day and night.  This diurnal temperature swing enables grapes to retain their freshness and acidity while developing complex aromatics.  The soil varies greatly throughout the AOC, but is typically a blend of clay and sand, with limestone dating from the Jurassic period.  Wines must be a blend of at least two varieties from the five allowed: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan.  Grape vines must be at least 5 years old and the wines must be matured for at least one year.Mas Jullien was founded by Olivier Jullien from part of his family estate in 1985.  He rebelled against the economic pressures forcing small and independent grape growers in the region to sell their over-cropped fruit to the local cooperative to make cheap bulk wine.  At 20 years old, after studying viticulture and oenology, he took over some of his family’s vineyards to produce his own wine.  In his early years, he experimented with different oak aging regimes and vineyard techniques.  Today he is considered one of the top producers in the Languedoc.

He produces wine from his small and rocky parcels scattered around the village of Jonquieres.  In the vineyard, he farms organically, practices biodynamics and severe pruning, and propagates vines through cuttings of field selections (selection massal).  In his wines, he blends together Carignan for freshness and body, Cinsault for finesse, Syrah for aroma and color, Grenache for complexity and spice, and Mourvedre for its structure.  The grapes are partially destemmed and vinified separately in stainless steel before being aged in barrels.  The Mas Jullien Rouge is a powerful and elegant blend of Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre that ages beautifully.

Olivier inspired his father to leave the cooperative and found his own estate in 1993.  Jean-Pierre named it Mas Cal Demoura, which means “one must remain,” in tribute to the many winemakers who lost their businesses and wineries in the region.  He sold his lesser vineyard holdings to focus on the 12 best acres of land.  Today, the estate is run by its new owners, Isabelle and Vincent Goumard, who trained under Jean-Pierre before taking over in 2004.  The estate’s vineyard parcels are organic, with stony and porous soil.  The grapes are hand harvested in two passes to ensure only the best grapes are selected.  Each variety is vinified separately with some whole clusters in stainless steel and racked into barrels.  After a year of maturation, the wines are blended, bottled without fining or filtration, and bottle aged for six months.  The L’Infidele is a blend of all five grape varieties.

Terrasses du Larzac wines here now

Mas Julien Terrasses Du Larzac Rouge 2010 ($59.95) $49 special, 3+ cases available
Robert Parker 94 points 
“The 2010 Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac is another superb example of this cuvee. Cassis, currant bud, massive minerality and a distinct iron/bloody quality all emerge from the glass, and this full-bodied, dense, concentrated and structured 2010 has fantastic tension and an overall energetic vibe. It needs another 2-3 years of cellaring and will have 15 years or more of ultimate longevity.”

Mas Cal Demoura Terrasses du Larzac L’Infidele 2010 ($31.95) $27 special, 3+ cases available
Importer Notes:
 “The historic cuvée of Jean-Pierre Jullien, L’Infidèle is a blend of all the regional grapes – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan. The Goumards make choices in the vineyard and in the cellar that will emphasize finesse and freshness in this bottling, allowing for full expression of the fruit. The grapes are partially destemmed. Temperature is rigorously controlled. The cuvaison can extend for as long as six weeks with frequent remontage. Aging takes place mostly in older demi-muids and each grape variety undergoes the primary stages of the elevage separately. Based upon a series of ongoing tastings, the Goumards determine the final blend and then the five varieties are assembled in cuve and aged for an additional six to eight months prior to bottling. The wine is bottled without filtration. ”


In the Languedoc, the IGP of Pays d’Herault is a notable region with exceptional terroir.  It has warm summers with some rain and cooling breezes that help grapes retain acidity.  The IGP allows for the inclusion of international varieties, thus disqualifying its wines from an AOC status.  Notable producers include Grange de Peres and Mas de Daumas Gassac.  Faugeres is an AOC that mostly produces red wines from classic Southern Rhone varieties.  Its best vineyards are high altitude and develop greater complexity than those from lower-lying vineyards.  Didier Barral is an excellent producer in the region producing biodynamic wines from old vines including those over 90 years old.Languedoc and Languedoc-Roussillon wines here now

L’Oustal Blanc Naick Blanc 2010 ($34.95) $29 special, 3 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93-94 points
 “Musky narcissus, myriad nut oils, and a maritime mingling of saline and alkaline scents grace the nose, then shadow a particularly polished palate lusciously informed by ripe white peach, pineapple and Persian melon. In a manner that in the world of white wine I otherwise encounter solely in certain memorable Gruner Veltliner, this then finishes with a tactile impingement, vibrancy, and grip not only memorable in themselves but totally unexpected, featuring kumquat, orange rind, pineapple core, white pepper, and crushed stone.”

Domaine de la Grange des Peres Rouge, IGP Pays de l’Herault 2010 ($129.95) $99 special, 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 93 points
 “Made by Laurent Vaille and sporting a semi-opaque ruby color, the 2010 Languedoc Grange des Peres is comprised of 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon that’s aged all in 228-liter barrels. An elegant, lively and complex wine, it offers ample currant and assorted dark fruits, leafy herbs, spice and hints of minerality that flow to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully textured 2010 that has nothing out of place, notable acidity and a core of sweet fruit. Fleshing out beautifully in the glass, it’s surprisingly approachable, so don’t be afraid to open bottles anytime soon (decant), yet I suspect it will evolve gracefully for upwards of 12-15 years given the overall balance and harmony.”

Mas de Daumas Gassac, IGP Pays de l’Herault 2010 ($59.95) $49 special, 5 bottles available

Domaine Saint Martin de la Garrigue Cuvee Reserve, IGP Pays d’Herault Coteaux de Bessilles 2010 ($19.95) $11.90 special, 1 bottle available

Domaine Leon Barral Faugeres Jadis 2010 ($49.95) $39 special, 4 bottles available
Robert Parker 94 points “Slightly more polished and fine, the 2010 Faugeres Jadis comes from south-facing slopes and is a blend of 50% Carignan, 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache that spends 24-26 months in 10% new barrels. Layered and perfumed on the nose, with fabulous plum pit, leather, violets, assorted spices and dusty minerality, it is full-bodied, seamless and elegant on the palate, with impressive polish to its tannin. Concentrated with excellent texture and length, it will have 10-15 years of longevity.”

Domaine Leon Barral Faugeres Valiniere 2010 ($79.95) $69 special, 13 bottles available

Domaine Leon Barral Faugeres Valiniere 2008 ($59.95) $49 special, 1 bottle available
Robert Parker 93 points “Not assembled until December of last year [2011] and bottled in February, Barral’s 2008 Faugeres Valiniere as usual represents Mourvedre plus north-facing Syrah (often harvested as much as two weeks later than the Syrah that informs his cuvee Jadis, and especially late in this instance). Fresh purple plum and dark cherry, smoky black tea, hibiscus, and bay inform the nose, then re-emerge on a palate of invigorating brightness benefitting from the impingement of salt, ginger, black tea, and seemingly crystalline mineral matter. An underlying, classic Mourvedre sense of red meat juices adds to the mouthwatering appeal of this superb cuvee whose sheer depth; diversity of flavor; and elegant balance more than compensate for any marginal diminution in textural allure that comes with its vintage. I suspect it will be worth following for more than half a dozen years, but would still plan to monitor it regularly – and given how irresistibly it is performing, that should hardly prove an onerous precaution.”

Chateau de La Liquiere Faugeres Nos Racines 2011 ($24.95) $19 special, 3+ cases available
Robert Parker 88 points 
“The 2011 Faugeres Nos Racines comes from nearly 95% Carignan that was aged all in tank. A beautiful effort, with fresh plum, black cherry, ground herbs, decayed flowers and old cabinet-like nuances, it is medium to full-bodied, mouth-filling and layered, with excellent fruit. Showing some chewy, savory (if not a touch dry) tannin on the finish, enjoy it over the coming 4-5 years.”

Chateau de La Liquiere Faugeres Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($19.95) $14 special, 3+ cases available


The Roussillon is home to many small sub-regions and produces many unique wines including Rancio Sec and Maury.  Rancio Sec is a wine similar to a fino sherry.  It is aged for years in oak barrels often in a solera system without topping off.  They often have oxidative notes with nut, cream and spice aromas and are traditionally drunk as aperitifs.  Maury wines are sweet vins doux naturels, which are stopped during fermentation with the addition of grape spirits to retain natural sweetness.  These wines are made from Grenache varietals and develop savory notes with bottle age.Roussillon wines here now

Domaine Bory Rivesaltes 1927 ($119.95) $99 special, 1 bottle available

Cotes d’Agly Maury Vin Doux Naturel 2010 ($19.95) $16 special, 4 bottles available

Domaine Bachelet Maury 1939 ($149.95) $99 special, 1 bottle available

Domaine La Tour Vieille Cap de Creus Rancio Sec, IGP Cote Vermeille NV ($49.95) $37 special, 2 bottles available

Domaine des Schistes Rancio Sec, IGP Cotes Catalanes NV 500ML ($34.95) $29 special, 7 bottles available
Importer note: “Grenache Blanc with a little Macabeu – Vines around 60 year old, producing small yields, about 30 hl/ha.  Aged in barrels left untopped, in a solera system – the first wine was introduced in 2004. Pair with tapas, aged Gruyère or Parmesan, anchovies.  166 cases produced.  16% Alcohol.”

And a quick side trip to a neighboring region:


The neighboring region of Provence is home to several notable wine appellations including Cassis and Bandol.  Both regions rest along the Mediterranean-facing slopes of the low coastal mountains.  Cassis wines are typically white blends that are full bodied with herbal notes.  Bandol is one of the most highly regarded appellations in Provence.  The wines must contain a minimum of 50% Mourvedre.  The resulting wines are dark, rich and spicy.  Bottlings from top producers, such as Domaine Tempier, can age for decades.Provence wines here now

Clos Sainte Magdeleine Cassis Blanc Provence 2011 ($34.95) $21.90 special, 3 cases available
Wine Spectator “A friendly, high-toned white, with tarragon, white peach and quinine notes, backed by a hint of lemon sherbet on the finish. Marsanne, Ugni Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc.” 40% Marsanne, 30% Ugni blanc, 25% Clairette, & 5% Bourboulenc

Domaines Ott Clos Mireille Cotes de Provence Blanc de Blancs 2009 ($39.95) $27 special, 8 bottles available
Wine Enthusiast 90 points
 “Produced from the Clos Mireille, within sight of the Mediterranean, this fresh-faced wine shows peach and citrus flavors rounded by ripeness, although with an attractive tangy aftertaste.”

Tramontane Rose Cotes Du Roussillon 2012 ($14.95) $11.90 special, 2 bottles available

Chateau De Calavon D’Aix En Provence Rose 2013 ($21.95) $18 special, 21 bottles available
Chateau notes: “Château de Calavon, a domain of 115 acres, is located in Lambesc, in the heart of the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence appellation. It is the first winery to be founded in this village. Owned by the Audibert family for five generations, it is now run by Michel Audibert and his team.  The vines are planted on terraces facing southeast, in stony soil that is a mixture of limestone and clay. The grape varieties grown for rosé wines are Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Cinsault. No pesticides, herbicides, or chemical products are used in the vineyards, as the estate is in the process of converting to organic production.”

Domaines Ott Les Domaniers de Puits Mouret Cotes de Provence Rose 2013 ($21.95) $18 special, 3+ cases available

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge 2009 ($41.95) $33 special, 26 bottles available
Wine Spectator 91 points “This is focused on its graphite and slate flavors, with crisp accents of dried raspberry and cherry in the background. Cream and cocoa powder notes linger on the refined finish, supported by medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2018.”

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge 2010 375ML ($27.95) $18 special, 34 half bottles available
Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge 2010 ($39.95) $29 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points
 “Notes of sanguine and rosemary line the core of taut cherry preserves and red currant paste. A singed alder hint flitters through the finish, showing good persistence. Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan. Drink now through 2020.”

Domaine Tempier Cuvee Cabassaou Bandol Rouge 2010 ($99.95) $79 special, 5 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points
 “The pure, solid core of kirsch and blackberry pâte de fruit is studded with rosemary, bitter plum, ganache and anise notes. This slowly yields to extra juniper, iron and sanguine accents that play out through the long, layered finish. This needs time to unwind fully. Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault. Best from 2017 through 2020.”

Domaine Tempier Bandol Cuvee Speciale La Migoua 2010 ($79.95) $49 special, 2 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points
 “Packed but racy, with a gorgeous note of cassis-soaked rosemary adding lift to the core of steeped plum, black currant and roasted alder notes. The long, taut finish has drive, revealing an echo of freshly seared meat that should meld beautifully with age. Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. Best from 2017 through 2027.”

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge Cuvee La Tourtine 2010 ($79.95) $49 special, 2 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points
 “Densely packed, with a brooding feel, offering plum eau-de-vie, kirsch and blackberry paste notes held in check behind a wall of charcoal, loam and singed rosemary sprig. Features ample, fine-grained grip, revealing a mouthwatering sanguine echo at the very end. Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault.”

Chateau Pradeaux Bandol 2007 ($41.95) $36 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Spectator 91 points
 “The tobacco, warm ganache and espresso notes lead the way in this version, with plum and blackberry paste flavors held in check by a pronounced charcoal spine and a tight core. Singed mesquite and cedar accents guide the finish. This may prove too roughly hewn for some folks, but offers solid depth and range. Best from 2015 through 2022. ” “95% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache, with the Grenache adding spice to the bouquet and leavening some of the drama provided by the intimidating structure of the Mourvèdre. One of the hallmarks of Pradeaux is that the grapes are never destemmed… Average age of the vines is approximately 35 years… no new oak.”

Domaine de Triennes Saint Auguste, IGP Var 2008 ($19.95) $14 special, 3+ cases available
“A ripe and spicy blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this has ripe black fruits that are laced with firm, dry tannins. There is a herbal character that gives it an edge.”–Wine Enthusiast

Domaine de Trevallon Rouge VdP Bouches-du-Rhone 1995 3L ($399.95) $279 special, 1 double magnum available
Stephen Tanzer 91+ points
 “Saturated ruby-red. Nose combines black raspberry preserves, dark chocolate, black pepper and game. Dense, very concentrated and very primary, but already shows lovely inner-mouth perfume. Still, a bit less expressive than the ’94 was at the same stage. Dark berry flavor explodes on the tannic finish. This wine spine of acidity gives it great grip and aging potential. For the second consecutive year, this wine was bottled as VdP des Bouches du Rhone, rather than Les Baux de Provence.”