2011 Terrasses de Larzac

Grapes Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah
Colour Red
Origin France, Languedoc-Roussillon
Sub-district Coteaux du Languedoc
Village Terrasses de Larzac
ABV 14%

60% Syrah, 20% Grenache and Mourvèdre. A wine with a very Northern Rhône taste profile, Syrah-dominated, but with an additional rounded, garrigue-herb touch and southern breadth across the palate. A very elegant Languedoc, in other words, from this vineyard high up under the Cévennes. Drinking range: 2014 - 2018 L&S (Oct 2014)

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Deeper, richer and more concentrated, the 2011 Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac, which was tasted as a final blend, offers knockout aromas and flavors of ripe black fruits, dried pepper, exotic spices and cured meats. Medium to full-bodied, with a chewy, broad and textured mouthfeel, it will benefit from short-term cellaring and have over a decade of longevity. Previously selling all of their grapes to the local coop, this brilliant estate has been managed by Frederic Pourtalie since 1999 when he took over from his family and bottled his first release. He now produces two reds, a Grenache-heavy Coteaux du Languedoc, and their top cuvee which gets the Terrasses du Larzac labeling and is 60% Syrah and equal parts Grenache and Mourvedre that all spends close to two years in used demi-muids. Pourtalie makes beautifully fruit-driven wines that show the warmth of the region, yet stay impressively balanced and fresh. Rating: 91-93 Jeb Dunnuck - (May 2015)

Domaine de Montcalmès

Frédéric Pourtalié and his family farm around twenty-five hectares of vines in what has now become the newly created appellation of the Terrasses de Larzac. Based in Puechabon, some of the vines are in the neighbouring villages of Aniane and Saint Saturnin. In his father's day the grapes were sold to the co-operative, but having previously worked with Alain Graillot (Crozes Hermitage) and La Grange des Pères, Frédéric imediately decided to start vinifying and bottling himself. Such is his success that he now sells all he can make in bottle. New slopes were being prepared for planting when I visited in 2012. These wines have become very sought after, and are released by the domaine on allocation - when it's gone it's gone. There are three red varieties. Syrah, which makes up 60-65% of the normal blend, and Grenache are both grown on three distinct soils - limestone, what Frédéric calls éboulis de calcaire (broken-down limstone rubble) and galets roulés (big round stones from glaciers like at Châteauneuf), and also Mourvèdre which is grown exclusively on the galets roulés. Aside from the dramatic slopes and these poor soils, which provide the perfect challenging conditions for the vines, the temperature has a large part to play. Here the vines are high up, but it is still only the foothills of the Cévennes, and cold air can pour off the mountains at night, dropping the temperature from a warm daytime 20-22 to a mere 2 degrees overnight. This has considerable influence in preserving the complexity and delicacy of the aromas.

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