Terrasses du Larzac: France’s Oldest Viticultural Region – Southern France’s Newest Appellation

la-peira-AOC Terrasses du Larzac: France's Oldest viticultural Region - Southern France's Newest Appellation Photo Credit: Georges Souche

Terrasses du Larzac : France’s Oldest viticultural Region – Southern France’s Newest Appellation [Photo Credit: Georges Souche]

Terrasses du Larzac: France’s Oldest Viticultural Region Southern France’s Newest Appellation

It’s been reported in Decanter Magazine, by the Wine Spectator, and around the world from Sweden to Hong Kong.

The Terrasses du Larzac has been approved by the French authorities as a stand-alone appellation. (The name reflects the region’s northerly position inland in the piedmont of the high Larzac plateau, Southern France.)

As the famous French wine critics, Bettane et Desseauve awarded it ‘French Appellation of the Year’ in 2011, the Mondavi family famously battled for a slice of it, and Andrew Jefford described it in 2009 in the pages of the Financial Times as, “some of the greatest vineyard land in the south of France”  you’d be forgiven for thinking it already was an appellation. 

But for much this time it was a sub-appellation, as part of the (now retired) Coteaux du Languedoc.

As from time to time there are new appellations decreed in France this is not news.

But that Southern France’s newest AOC sits in France’s oldest-known viticultural region – and the birth place of France wine – probably is.

“The first extensive vineyards in France we can be certain about”

As Hugh Johnson (the world’s best-selling wine writer) writes of this area in his authoritative, The Story of Wine:

“These are the first extensive vineyards in France we can be certain about”.

La Pèira: The view to Pic de Vissou  (Photo credit- Georges Souche)

La Pèira: The view to Pic de Vissou (Photo credit- Georges Souche)

More has come to light since his history was published in 1989 (with a new edition in 2004) but further on that later.

The announcement means La Peira’s commune of Saint-André-de-Sangonis is now part of two stand-alone AOC’s.

The first, held for over half a century, is for the white Clairette du Languedoc AOC decreed in 1948.

The second now is for the production of red wine as Terrasses du Larzac.

(On a side note, it’s often overlooked just how recent wine appellations are in France. The first came about in 1936. In fact much to do French wine is comparatively recent. The first estate to bottle its own wine was in 1924 [Mouton Rothschild]. By contrast this is something Coca-Cola has manage since 1886.)

With regard to the history of appellations in France, two villages of the Terrasses du Larzac AOC (Pégairolles-de-l’Escalette and Octon) overlaps with that of Roquefort, France’s oldest and the world’s first appellation (1925). Here the grazing of Lacaune, Manech, and Basco-Béarnaise for the production of Roquefort occurs alongside the growing of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre for Terrasses du Larzac wine.

Nearby: the Discovery of the Oldest Winery in France

Nearby La Peira, in 2007 – and still in the Clairette AOC mentioned above – France’s earliest know winery was discovered. [link: Decanter France’s earliest winery found 2 Jul 2007 - see also The oldest winery in FranceLa villa de Quintus Iulius Primus ]

George Souche Via Domitia La Peira Web

The Via Domitia as it passes through Southern France (photo credit Georges Souche)

Founded in 10 AD by Quintus Iulius Primus, it is established near ancient Roman road that ran along the Hérault river , and linked the Via Domitia  at Cessero (today’s St. Thibéry) to Luteva (Lodève) and Segodunum (Rodez)

This (as mentioned above) is part of a series of discoveries made since the last publication of Johnston’s book.

As can be seen the image (lower left hand corner) below from a report in 2009 by Stéphane Mauné (Director of research at CNRS) the Roman road that ran from Cessero (St Thibéry) to Segodunum (Rodez) through the Hérault valley and along the Hérault river, features a concentration of early wine growing (and other) settlements. 

This make sense as the Cessero/Segodunum road not only runs along a source of fresh water (the Hérault river), but linked also to the great commercial road of the Via Domitia which linked the vineyards to the great wine town of Beziers (then Baeterrae).

First mention of French wine in literature as being of significant merit

And so it may come no surprise to find that the very first mention of French wine in literature as being of significant merit is found in Pliny’s Natural History (AD 77–79) in which the white wines sold at Baeterrae / Beziers  nearby are cited as worthy of note (alongside the resinous reds of Vienne):

“When ye are passed once into Fraunce or Gaule, the wine of Beterræ is in chiefe request.”

[CHAP. VI. Pliny’s Natural History: Of kindly wines made of the best Grapes. Trans. PHILEMON HOLLAND 1601]

Map showing concentration of Gallo-Roman sites in the Hérault Valley  (S. Mauné 2009)

Map showing concentration of Gallo-Roman sites in the Hérault Valley (S. Mauné 2009)

So perhaps the real news is that this area of the oldest wine region in France, where wine growing began for that country over 2000 years ago, has finally a stand-alone connection to the appellation system of France, yet to celebrate its first century. 

As Andrew Jefford wrote of the estate in 2008:

“Languedoc varieties like those used in La Pèira seem to me to be what the stones long  for, and it is with them that wine from these old Roman roads can best rival wonderful but overadulated Bordeaux”

Let’s hope they all – stones, wines, roads, and vines – continue to flourish for some time yet.

“Southern France’s First Growth” – Andrew McMurray of Zachys on La Peira

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“Southern France’s ‘First Growth’” Andrew McMurray Vice President of Zachys Fine Wine Founded 1944 on La Pèira

“Southern France’s ‘First Growth’” – Andrew McMurray of Zachys on La Peira

We thought we’d post this complimentary piece written by Andrew McMurray, vice president of New York’s famous Zachys. Zachys has a fascinating history. Established in 1944, it was in 1961 that Don Zacharia took over, and since then it has seen the changing of drinking habits in the US towards wine, of California as an important wine-producing region, of the Bordeaux futures business, of the internet, of its wine-auction business (initially in partnership with Christie’s), and pretty much everything and anything in between. For a couple of fascinating articles, click here: The Wine Sellers by John Anderson [inc.com], or here: PUBLIC LIVES; A Full-Bodied Career in the Family Business in the New York Times by Joyce Wadler.

“Southern France’s ‘First Growth’” – La Pèira en Damaisèla’s Spectacular Reds

The “Final Frontier” of the wine world continues to amaze us. Southern France was once considered a producer only of value regional wine, but their sub-appellations are gaining cult followings unto themselves. Provence has Bandol. Roussillon has Corbieres. Now, thanks to producers like La Pèira, Languedoc has Terrasses du Larzac, which is quickly becoming a source of phenomenal (and increasingly rare) value and premium wine. Words don’t do it justice…but that won’t stop people from trying! The Wine Advocate’s David Schildknecht, never one to hold back his thoughts when he puts pen to paper, had only glowing things to say:

“…If it were not already abundantly clear, this is now one of the three or four most exciting not to mention meticulously-run properties in the Languedoc, and as such is broadcasting the message that this region’s soils and old vines harbor abundant latent grandeur whose awakening awaits only the right combination of inspiration, labor, and luck. I just hope aspiring vintners and winery owners – not to mention wine lovers – the world over are listening!” – David Schildknecht, August 2011

Using the traditional Languedoc-Roussillon varietals (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan), winemaker Jeremie Depierre crafts deep, brooding, mind-blowingly complex reds that show beautifully right out of the gate, and will continue to impress for years to come. The wines are consistently fantastic vintage-to-vintage, and you can see why we consider this a “First Growth” of Southern France!

Andrew McMurray - vice president of Zachys

“Easily one of the top estates in all of France”: Wine Advocate Reviews from Jeb Dunnuck of La Peira Vintages 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013

LaPeira_1_1400x680_English

“…easily one of the top estates in all of France…” Jeb Dunnuck writes of La Pèira in Wine Advocate Issue #212 (Photo credit: Georges Souche)

This May saw Jeb Dunnuck of the Wine Advocate publish a great swathe of notes on various La Pèira vintages. Following on from his positive reviews of last year, Jeb writes of La Pèira: “Easily one of the top estates in all of France” . Excerpts from the reviews are listed below in the following order: La Pèira’s grand vin (or flagship wine), the estate’s second label (Las Flors de la Pèira), and then the domaine’s third wine (Obriers de la Pèira). There follow after this reviews of the La Pèira’s white wine (Deusyls de la Pèira) and 100% Mourvèdre cuvee (Matissat).

La Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013

“the leading estate in all the Languedoc and Roussillon” writes Jeb Dunnuck of La Pèira in the Rhone Report Issue #11 2013 (Photo credit: Georges Souche)

La Pèira 2010 97/100
“Cassis, toast, crushed rocks, melted licorice and roasted herb aromas and flavors all emerge from this beauty, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness and depth, brilliant purity of fruit and masses of underlying structure…seamless texture and impeccable balance” - 97/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate #212, Apr 2014

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

La Pèira 2011 96/100
“Reminding me of the smoking good 2009, the 2011 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira has fabulous richness and depth, with exuberant kirsch, cassis, dried earth, ground herbs and licorice-styled aromas and flavors”  - 96/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate #212, Apr 2014

[bottle imagefull reviewwine searcher]

La Pèira 2012 94-96/100
“With lively and fresh cassis, black raspberry, graphite, licorice and cedar notes flowing to a medium to full-bodied, profile on the palate. Pure, focused and nicely concentrated” – 94-96/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 

[bottle imagefull reviewwine searcher]

La Pèira 2013 95-97/100
“exhibits impressive raspberry, cassis, violets (and assorted floral nuances), exotic spices and licorice to go with a medium to full-bodied, vibrant and decidedly elegant and fresh profile on the palate” – 95-97/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 

[bottle imagefull review | wine searcher]

Las Flors de la Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013

- Las Flors de la Pèira is the domaine’s second wine -

Las Flors de la Pèira 2010 94/100
“Full-bodied, seamless and silkily textured, with beautiful mid-palate depth and integrated acidity” – 94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Las Flors de la Pèira 2011 93/100
“Kirsch, graphite, licorice, spice box and cured meats are just some of the nuances here, and it hits the palate with medium to fullbodied richness and depths” -  93/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Las Flors de la Pèira 2012 90-93/100
“Overall elegant, seamless feel, the 2012 Terrasses du Larzac Las Flors de La Pèira gives up ample blackberry, pepper, crushed flowers, resinous herbs and hints of licorice” – 90-93/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Las Flors de la Pèira 2013 91-94/100
“It is a pretty, perfumed and elegant rendition of the cuvee that exhibits plenty of strawberry, raspberry, lilac and exotic spices to go with a medium-bodied, energetic feel” 91-94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Obriers de la Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013

- Obriers de la Pèira is the domaine’s second wine -

“The greatest wine I’ve tasted from the Languedoc to date”” writes Jeb Dunnuck of the La Pèira 2010 in the Rhone Report Issue #11 2013 (Photo credit: Georges Souche)

Obriers de la Pèira 2010 91/100 
“Ample black cherry, mineral, pepper and wild herbs to go with a medium-bodied, layered and yet elegant overall profile Aging beautifully and still youthful” - 91/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Obriers de la Pèira 2011 92/100
“Medium-bodied, layered and textured on the palate, with a terrific finish” - 92/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Obriers de la Pèira 2012 90/100
“Incredibly floral and perfumed, with sweet blackberry, violets, lilacs and exotic spices, this medium-bodied, elegant and silky effort builds on the palate, shows notable freshness and a pure, hard-to-resist feel.” - 90/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Obriers de la Pèira 2013 90-92/100
“Perfumed and complex, with plenty of sweet kirsch, exotic pepper, spices and leather-styled aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, lightly textured and elegant, with a seamless profile, it should easily be an outstanding example of this cuvee” - 90-92/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 

[bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

The White: Deusyls de la Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013

Deusyls de la Pèira 2010 92/100  “Offers a more honeyed character, with ample spice, honeycomb, toasted nuts, white fruits and floral aromas and flavors. Elegant, seamless and full-flavored on the palate, with plenty of class” - 92/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Deusyls de la Pèira 2011 94/100 “Thrilling aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, white flowers, crushed rock-like minerality and hints of mint to go with a medium to full-bodied, layered, rich, yet beautifully lively and pure profile on the palate.”  94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Deusyls de la Pèira 2012 94/100 “Medium-bodied, pure, layered and elegant, with fabulous citrus blossom, white flowers, vanilla, creme and assorted toasty nuances” 94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Deusyls de la Pèira 2013 92-94/100  “Gorgeous apple, citrus blossom and ample minerality in its medium-bodied, fresh and pure profile, it has both freshness and richness, with beautiful length.” 92-94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Matissat ( La Peira’s pure Mourvèdre)

Matissat 2010 96+/100
“Darker and more savory… with copious blackcurrant, kirsch, graphite, dusty soil and spicy meat characteristics. It is full-bodied, broad and gorgeously textured, with rock solid concentration and length. Give it another 2–3 years and enjoy it over the following 12–15 years.” - 96+/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

Matissat 2011 95/100
“With massive kirsch, licorice, spiced meats and graphite aromas and flavors, this hits the palate with a massive core of fruit, fullbodied concentration and depth, and a rock star finish. Approachable now given its exuberant personality, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it still drinking beautifully at age 20.” - 95/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]

For PDF of excepted Wine Advocate/Jeb Dunnuck reviews of the La Pèira vintages 2010, 2011, 2012, & 2013 click image above (Photo credit: Georges Souche)

For PDF of excepted Wine Advocate/Jeb Dunnuck reviews of the La Pèira vintages 2010, 2011, 2012, & 2013 click image above

‘Especiariá de la Pèira’ store: The La Pèira En Primeur Offer for the 2013 vintage (and other things)

‘Especiariá de la Pèira’ store and the La Pèira En Primeur Offer for the 2013 vintage (Photo Credit: Georges Souche)

A little while ago we started a small place were we could publish details of forthcoming La Pèira En Primeur offers, and offer a few items otherwise unavailable elsewhere.

We named it Especiariá de la Pèira. Especiariá is the occitan word for épicerie. Occitan, of course, is the traditional language spoken in the Terrasses du Larzac when we work. You can view it by clicking PURCHASE LA PÈIRA above. It was just in French, and for France only (and still is).

We’ll shortly be providing this in English. If you’re interested and want us to drop you a line when it launches, feel free to enter an email below (and anything else you might wish) and we’ll you let you know when it launches.

Note: Current vintages of the wines of La Pèira cannot be acquired there (for those see wine-searcher for stockists).

Please let me know about this and the La Pèira En Primeur  Offer 2013 thank You

 

 

Video: Jeb Dunnuck looks at the La Peira 2011 vintage for the Wine Advocate (subscription required)

In advance of the much-awaited Wine Advocate reviews for the Languedoc-Roussillon, Jeb Dunnuck has recorded a video review for www.erobertparker.com looking at the La Pèira wine from the 2011 vintage (click above for link – subscription required).

The wines tasted:

2012 Deusyls de la Pèira Blanc
2011 Las Flors de la Pèira
2011 La Pèira

Jeb (previously of The Rhone Report) covers the wines of the Rhône Valley (North and South), Southern France, Washington, and Central & Southern California.

He takes over the Rhone Valley, and Central & Southern California from Robert Parker, and Southern France from David Schildknecht (whose past Wine Advocate La Pèira reviews can be found here (2008-2009) and here (2005-2007).

The forthcoming Southern France report features 258 Producers, and 854 wines, along with a Languedoc and Roussillon 101 section with descriptions of the AOCs and top producers from each.

So great for those wanting to familiarise themselves with the wheres and whats of these different growing regions.

Jeb’s past La Pèira reviews (for The Rhone Report) can be seen here.

La Peira’s Matissat named the Best Red Wine of France in the Lafont Presse ‘Classement des Meilleurs Vins de France’ 2014

Lafont Press - Le Classement 2014 de Meilleurs Vins de France (1)

“A legend in the making”

The 2014 edition of the Lafont Presse ‘Classement de Meilleurs Vins de France’ has named La Pèira’s Matissat cuvee best red wine for all of France.

The wine – a pure Mourvèdre – is dubbed “a legend in the making” and garners a perfect (100/100) score.

It featured alongside a field of many of France’s finest producers such as Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse (Pauillac), Château Montrose (Saint-Estèphe), Château Léoville-Barton (Saint-Julien), Château Pape-Clément (Pessac-Léognan), Château de Beaucastel (Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Auguste Clape (Cornas), Guigal (La Landonne – Côte-Rôtie), and Chapoutier (Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape).

Other inclusions from the Languedoc-Roussilion:

Domaine de la Grange des Peres (N° 15), Domaine Peyre Rose (N° 30),  Mas Jullien (N° 34),  Domaine Gauby’s Muntada (N° 54 ), and Mas de Daumas Gassac (blanc N° 34 ).

Writing on the La Pèira wines, Bertrand Rougier  (editor of the Guide Lafont) states:

“In just a few years, La Pèira en Damaisèla has established itself as one of the most groundbreaking properties of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Created in 2004, the property now ranks alongside – and in some eyes even above – the best of the best in Bordeaux and Burgundy.”

Lafont Press - Le Classement 2014 de Meilleurs Vins de France (3)

Lafont Press – ‘Le Classement 2014 de Meilleurs Vins de France’ 2014

Guide Lafont Vins de France La Pèira notes

La Pèira 2010 (98/100)

 When the last hint of flavour finally disappears, you can’t help but feel a hint of regret – such are the monumental proportions of this wine.” (excerpt-link)

Las Flors de la Pèira 2010 (94/100)

“A dangerously delicious wine.” (excerpt – link)

Obriers de la Pèira 2011 (90/100)

“This wine is a delight from the first … a most affable and engaging wine.” (excerpt-link)

Matissat 2010 (100/100)

“A legend in the making!” (excerpt-link)

Full article
by Bertrand Rougier (translation by Florence Brutton)

La Pèira en Damaisèla

Les Terrasses
du Paradis

To taste the wines of La Pèira en Damaisèla is to take a bold step into another world – a better world that unfolds with every sip, extending far beyond the confines of the Terrasses du Larzac appellation. The estate is owned by author-composer, Rob Dougan and barrister, Karine Ahton, ably assisted by young Château Margaux-trained winemaker, Jérémie Depierre. All three can congratulate themselves on a rare achievement of truly monumental proportions!

In just a few years, La Pèira en Damaisèla has established itself as one of the most groundbreaking properties of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Created in 2004, the property now ranks alongside – and in some eyes even above – the best of the best in Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Its name comes from an Occitan stonemason’s adage, Plaçar una pèira en damaisèla, which means ‘place the stone with its best face forward’. At first glance, it’s hard to see how anyone could improve on what was there already: 11 hectares of stony but not meagre soils, in a sunny but breezy location that enjoys a combination of Continental and Mediterranean climate, bordered on one side by the Mas de Daumas Gassac and on the other by La Grange des Pères and the woods of Pauliau [Bois de Pauliau]. Predictably, the yield is very small: less than 9hl/ha for the Grenache and Syrah that make up the La Pèira cuvee. The vines are short-pruned and constantly tended. Desuckering, leaf removal, thinning, green harvesting – work in the vineyard never stops. No-one knows this better than Jérémie Depierre, the man who has turned this naturally well-endowed land into something truly marvellous.

Harvesting is of course entirely manual. The grapes are placed in small crates then taken to the winery in air-conditioned vehicles for double-sorting and de-stemming. Barrel maturation is gloriously unhurried (the La Péira, for instance, ages on fine lees in new barrels for 18 to 24 months) and there is no fining or filtration whatsoever. It is no accident that these wines taste more like the purest nectar than grape juice.

That said, neither the talents and ambitions of the owners nor the quality of the terroir are quite enough to explain the miracle that takes place in every bottle. We can only conclude that these wines must be touched by magic. How else to describe that feeling of almost beatific pleasure that they arouse in the people who taste them – a feeling most of us can remember from childhood but never experience in adult life.

Bertrand Rougier

(full publication with all articles/classement can be purchased/viewed here:  Lafont Presse ‘Classement de Meilleurs Vins de France 2014′  )

All Matissat review can be seen here: Matissat reviews.

Andrew Jefford profiles Rob Dougan in Gourmet Traveller

Rob Dougan by Stuart Hall - Andrew Jefford Profile

Andrew Jefford profiles Rob Dougan in Gourmet Traveller

In an article for Gourmet Traveller (almost 10 years to the day after being last interviewed in the The Guardian newspaper), Andrew Jefford (one of the world’s finest wine writers) tracks down Rob Dougan in the inland hills of the South of France, and looks at the work at La Pèira.

Claiming, “The unusual thing about Rob Dougan is that he doesn’t think like most Languedoc domaine owners. He is madder or more innocent”, he goes on to look at the La Pèira wines.

Here it is just possible, “that high-quality wine was made hereabouts in Roman times. This is not a typically rocky, austere Languedoc hill site; the deep, filtering gravels are more sumptuous and Bordeaux-like.”

Of his subject, he states he is, “enigmatic and thin-skinned; self-demeaning and understated but fiercely proud”.

For all this, he concludes, La Pèira has produced, “great wines, the kind of wines that can jolt consumers’ perceptions of the Languedoc and can rival the best from Bordeaux, and the Rhône. Maybe, given time, they might even right a historical wrong.”

Part of Andrew Jefford’s article in the Oct/Nov edition of Gourmet Traveller can be found excepted here (or by clicking on the image above).

Andrew Jefford is the author of The New France (a seminal work on the wines of France) and Peat Smoke and Spirit: A Portrait of Islay (on Islay and its Whiskies) amongst many other publications, and writes for Decanter, The World of Fine Wine, and The Financial Times (FT). His website can be found here.

The Gourmet traveller website can be found here.

La Pèira in the The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

La Pèira in the The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

La Pèira in the The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson 2

La Pèira in the The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson

In a week that saw La Pèira kindly categorised as, “Southern France’s First Growth” by Andrew McMurray, vice president of New York’s famous Zachys, we were delighted to see La Pèira appear in the 7th Edition of The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, for the first time published as an Ibook on Itunes as well as in hardback.

The article on the region speaks of producers such as La Pèira who have:

“confirmed the high potential of the relatively cool, windy hills north of Clermont” [the Terrasses du Larzac].

The publication is available in hard copy via Amazon, and on Ibook for Ipad available via Itunes.

La Pèira Map in the The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson 4

Fields, Morris & Verdin Grand Portfolio Tasting 2013

Fields, Morris & Verdin Grand Portfolio Tasting

Fields, Morris & Verdin Tasting Richard Dawes Fine Wine La Peira labels 2Link

La Peira CrossAn extraordinary reaction to the La Pèira wines yesterday at the brilliantly organised Fields, Morris & Verdin Grand Portfolio 2013 tasting at Church House in Westminster.  Now incorporating the portfolios of Richards Walford and Mistral Wines, the tasting saw a staggering 100 or so producers flying in from all points of the  globe. The quote above is from William Gossip and the team at the excellent Richard Dawes Fine Wines, with whom we had the good fortune to show the lastest vintages to and who kindly wrote about the wines: link here

Genius Loci: Andrew Jefford in Decanter on the La Pèira Vintages 2005-10


Genius Loci
: Andrew Jefford in Decanter on the La Pèira Vintages 2005- 2010

La Pèira Bois de Pauliau | Photo Credit: Georges Souche

La Pèira Bois de Pauliau | Photo Credit: Georges Souche

Could be Genius Andrew Jefford

Andrew Jefford writing at Decanter.com on a recent vertical tasting of the La Pèira vintages 2005-2010 suggests, “They could be the work of a genius”.

After casting around for possibilities, he finally settles on Genius Loci, the Roman term for the protective spirit of a place.

That place? The Bois de Pauliau (pictured above) where the ground is “deep glacial rubble”, “stony, but not austere”, and “bright but ventilated”; “For the Languedoc, it feels almost Médoc-like”.

For the Languedoc - Medoc-Like - Andrew Jefford

As for the wines: “Every time I get a chance to taste these wines, they bring me uncommon pleasure. They are concentrated, perfumed, fleshy, heady, allusive and beguiling. Every bottle is drained to the last drop. As I polish the glasses afterwards, I begin looking forward to the next time.”

The Vertical Tasting

“I tasted La Pèira 2005 to 2010, and Matissat 2007 to 2010. These wines are expensive (£63 per bottle for La Pèira, and £50 for Matissat, from Berry Bros) [$130.00, and $105 in the US], but worth it for anyone whose circumstances allow purchases of that sort. The decent Les Obriers is £15.95 from the same source, but I would rather save up and have one bottle of the indecent La Pèira than four of Les Obriers. Las Flors at £27 is perhaps the canniest buy: La Pèira writ small. (That’s still large.)”

Andrew Jefford’s Notes on the Wines 

La Pèira 2005

La Peira 2005 Jefford Profound quote 2“I don’t suppose they’ll ever make another wine like the 2005 La Pèira (for which yields were a barely sane 9 hl/ha): this Gargantua of the Languedoc remains rich, mouth-coating, essence-like, profound, and good for a half-century of ageing.” Andrew Jefford Decanter March 2013 [Wine Searcher link for La Pèira 2005 vintage 

La Pèira 2006La Peira 2006 Andrew Jefford quote 2

“If you have any of the 2006 La Pèira — lucky you. In aesthetic terms, I think this is the most beautiful of all so far; more Venus de Milo than Gargantua. Milky, gentle, graceful, poised and Pomerol-like, with perfectly judged black-fruit ripeness and svelte, sumptuous tannins.” Andrew Jefford Decanter March 2013 [Wine Searcher link for the La Pèira 2006 vintage]

La Pèira 2007

La Peira 2007 ANDREW JEFFORD GRANGE QUOTE“The 2007 is the Grange of the set: a multi-layered, exotic cocktail of everything you might want a wine from hereabouts to be, with cascading texture and depth.” Andrew Jefford Decanter March 2013 [Wine Searcher link for the La Pèira 2007 vintage]

La Pèira 2008

La Peira 2008 just as good as 2007 Andrew Jefford“Just as good [as the 2007], for me, is the 2008: less evident extravagance than in the 2007, but more elemental complexity, as elderberries take over from plums, leather and meat qualifies the fruit, and the finish grows stonier.“ [Wine Searcher link for the La Pèira 2008 vintage]

La Pèira 2009

La Peira 2009 Andrew Jefford deep-drizzled ripeness, perfumeI once called La Pèira a liqueur of the garrigue, and the 2009 seems to summarise that deep-drizzled ripeness, perfume and incipient sweetness.” [Wine Searcher link for the La Pèira 2009 vintage]

La Pèira 2010

La Peira 2010 another monument-in-waiting Andrew Jefford quote“The 2010 looks like another monument-in-waiting: peacock-like in terms of its aromatic allusions (plant essences, crushed roots and pounded stones). It’s hard to believe that this powerful and searching wine contains no Mourvèdre.” [Wine Searcher link for the La Pèira 2010 vintage]

Matissat Vertical Tasting Vintages 2007-2010

Matissat 2007

The 2007 pure-Mourvèdre Matissat was the greatest of its own short flight: perhaps the most engagingly baroque example of this variety I have ever tasted (blackberries, mushrooms, blood, white truffle and viscera: gorgeous), and another wine that seems unlikely to die before I do.

Matissat PDF with David Schildknecht / Jancis Robinson / Andrew Jefford reviews (link) [For availability & details: Matissat [at] gmail dot com or roth109 [at] aol dot com]

Matissat 2008

The 2008 is (like the La Pèira of that year) a much tighter, more gathered wine, with shattering concentration, Valrhona acidity, a herbal macerate.

Matissat PDF with David Schildknecht / Jancis Robinson / Andrew Jefford reviews (link) [For availability & details: Matissat [at] gmail dot com or roth109 [at] aol dot com]

Matissat 2009

The 2009 transforms that black chocolate into gratifyingly milky milk chocolate, softens the tannins and adds a spoonful of liquorice essence.

Matissat PDF with David Schildknecht / Jancis Robinson / Andrew Jefford reviews (link) [For availability & details: Matissat [at] gmail dot com or roth109 [at] aol dot com]

Matissat 2010

The 2010 seemed primitive and adolescent at this stage, and still trying to resolve its personality, but full of the thorny, thrumming blackberry this variety surrenders hereabouts.

Matissat PDF with David Schildknecht / Jancis Robinson / Andrew Jefford reviews (link) [For availability & details: Matissat [at] gmail dot com or roth109 [at] aol dot com]

Genius Loci

Temple at Castle Howard

The English Augustan-style Temple of the Four Winds at Castle Howard

The Latin phrase, Genius Loci (in classical Roman times, an attendant spirit of a person or place) entered the English language as a figure with Alexander Pope’s writing on landscape and architecture. Pope disdained the symmetrical style (Versailles and Fontainebleau for instance), encouraging a more “natural” one where landscape and garden harmonised. Pope suggests, “to follow Nature, even in works of mere luxury and elegance. Instanced in architecture and gardening, where all must be adapted to the genius and use of the place, and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it.”. The English Augustan period adopted Roman forms, be it in Architecture (via Andrea Palladio), Literature (Horace and Virgil), or ideas such as Genius Loci, as dramaticaly illustrated by the Temple of the Four Winds (pictured above) at Castle Howard modeled on Palladio’s Villa Capra. The famous lines from Pope’s Epistle IV:

Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
Or helps th’ ambitious hill the heav’ns to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks, or now directs, th’ intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.

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