Terrasses du Larzac – one of France’s newest wine regions – has so much to offer
Terrasses du Larzac is producing some of the South of France’s most exciting wines right now, delighting lovers of French wine everywhere.
There are the particularly fine red wines that carry the region’s name; however, if you are looking for beautifully balanced white wines, or delicate rosés, allow us to take you on a journey of discovery…
Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert: one of France’s beautiful wine destinations
The beautiful village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, between Montpellier and Lodève, has long had a history of viticulture, producing some of the best wine in Languedoc. It has also been a popular tourist destination for hundreds of years; and it is Religion, as in other French wine regions, that’s been instrumental in the development of both.
Grenache Noir is perhaps the best known of the five main grape varieties that are grown across southern France. Until recently, Spain was growing more Grenache Noir (Garnacha Tinta) than anywhere else in the world, which makes sense when you consider it may have originated there. However, it’s France that now claims the largest vineyard area given over to it. No surprise then that Grenache noir turns up in so many of the country’s most compelling red wines.
Syrah is one of the great French wine grape varieties and it originally comes from the Rhône Valley. It is a versatile grape that can make a wide range of wine styles. These styles range from rosé wine to easy drinking reds and deep brooding, intense wines. In other countries, you might find sweet red dessert versions and lush sparkling red wines.
Mourvèdre, or Monastrell, is a red wine grape variety that is often used as an ‘accent’ in red wine blends. It is one of the trio of grapes that are most sought after to make the iconic red wines of southern France. The others being Syrah and Grenache. Similar to Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre is also a grape of Spanish origin. Although it is not as well known. You might have also come across Mourvèdre as Mataro in countries such as the USA and Australia.
Cinsaut, or cinsault as spelt in France, is a widely planted French grape variety used in red wines and rosés. Little is known about its history or where it’s from. It’s thought to be local to Hérault, a department in the wine region of Languedoc. Many winemakers here have finally started giving Cinsaut the attention it deserves. It now has a growing reputation as the Pinot Noir of the South of France.
Like Cinsaut, Carignan is a red grape variety experiencing something of a revival, or a reawakening, in the South of France. True, and conversely, for years its popularity has been in decline here, its tendency to produce a plentiful supply of low quality grapes making it synonymous with Europe’s wine lake – out with the old, in with Syrah. However, more recently, winemakers in Languedoc and Roussillon (the latter calling the grape the Pinot of the South) have turned reflective, seeking it out as part of the region’s heritage rather than dismissing it entirely. As with many things in life, a shift in emphasis leads to reappraisal, a new appreciation of the value of something and, of course, remarkably different results.
What are Autumn wines?
It’s early November. Days are shortening. Trees shimmer gold, burnt umber, orange, and the first frosts whiten leaves that haven’t yet fallen. Yes, winter’s round the corner but we’re filling our glasses with Autumn wines. They’ve nothing to do with a late harvest; no vendange in Languedoc now. It’s all about falling temperatures and warmer reds. And not just reds. Here are our suggestions for what to drink in this most beautiful of seasons.
Terroir, wine's true identity
When we talk about wine, it’s difficult not to discuss terroir. The two words are inseparable, especially in the Old World, but what is terroir exactly? And why is this concept so important in winemaking? Let’s look at it in more detail.
How important is the shape of a wine glass? Part 1.
Did you know the smell and taste of wine changes depending on the glass it’s served in? Pour the same wine into two different wine glasses and see for yourself. You may or may not notice a huge difference, but if your nose and palate (since they’re connected) are sensitive enough, you’ll get it immediately – sometimes in the nose, sometimes in the mouth, depending on the grape variety. It’s why it’s important to serve wine in the appropriate glass. However, as wine glasses come in all shapes and sizes, how do we choose the best one for our ‘61 Château Latour?
How to choose your wine glasses
As mentioned in our previous article “How important is the shape of a wine glass?”, the size and shape, and how open the glass is, plays an important role in how the wine smells and tastes. Considering there are over 150 types of wine glasses of different shapes and sizes on the market – and that’s not even counting Champagne, Cognac and other fortified wines, how can you be sure you’re buying the appropriate glass type? Some advice, then, to help you with your decision.
Terrasses du Larzac: there were already vineyards here 2000 years ago!
The designation Terrasses du Larzac is still very young. Created in 2004, it only became a PDO in 2014. However, wine was produced here before the time of Christ. Why has it taken so long to recognise this terroir, located in the French region of Languedoc, north-west of Montpellier?
Natural wines: beyond organic
So, they may well be called ‘natural wines’ but not everyone making them likes the term. After all, what does it imply? Anything and everything? Do the number of synonyms for ‘natural’ (+ wine) edge us closer to a verifiable definition? You might have already come across ‘real’, ‘honest’, ‘raw’, ‘naked’, ‘clean’, ‘pure’, ‘low-intervention’. At least we can agree on the basic principle: natural wines must be organic, yes? Yes, but natural wine producers will tell you this doesn’t go nearly far enough.
How to recognise the leaves of Languedoc’s five red grape varieties
It’s one thing to identify Merlot, Carignan or Pinot Noir in your glass; it’s quite another to recognise them as vines on a stroll around a vineyard. The colour and size of the grapes change from one variety to another, but it’s the leaf shape that tells you what plant it is.