Terrasses du Larzac Wine
In 1998, ambitious young vigneron Frédéric Pourtalié founded Domaine Montcalmès with the assistance of his sister Muriel. Its principal bottling of red Terrasses du Larzac has now become internationally-renowned and features on the famous carte des vins of the 2 Michelin-starred 'La Pyramide' restaurant in Vienne which boasts 1,600 bins. Frédéric currently cultivates 22 hectares of vines on the elevated slopes surrounding the village of Puéchabon that yield enough grapes to produce roughly 50,000 bottles each year. He favours a blend of 60% Syrah and 20% each of Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre that are hand-harvested then pressed and macerated for 30 days. The assemblage is then raised in barrels of various sizes and ages for 2 years before blending and bottling. The finished wine is approachable from release (if decanted) but really comes into its own with 5 to 10 (or more) years bottle age. With a briary bouquet of wild herbs and berries and a dense palate of stewed black fruit with peppery undertones and a firm tannic structure, it makes a fine accompaniment to small game.
Mas de Daumas Gassac
Aimé and Véronique Guibert - after successful careers in leather goods and Irish ethnology respectively - began touring Southern France in search of a property to develop and establish as a family home. By chance, they discovered an old farmhouse and mill on the Gassac river in the foothills of the Cévennes near Aniane. With little wine knowledge but boundless enthusiasm, they bought the property in 1970 and started investigating the surrounding countryside. After repeated approaches to the celebrated Bordeaux-based Professor of Oenology, Emile Peynaud finally visited the estate in 1978 and thereafter took an active interest.
Diverse free-draining soils of limestone, clay, red gravel and glacial sandstone provided an ideal environment for viticulture aided by a microclimate protected by the massifs of Arboussas and Larzac. They began planting Cabernet Sauvignon vines in 1972 and the first vintage of red Mas de Daumas Gassac was produced in 1978. Today, the estate extends to 50 hectares of vines set amongst 5,000 hectares of woodland and Aimé and Véronique's four sons - Samuel, Roman, Gaël and Basile - oversee the running of the estate. Samuel, the eldest, has been involved in the vinification of the last 23 vintages and has been assisted for the last 5 years by Benjamin d'Anglade - a gifted winemaker and highly-skilled blender and, credit where it is due, an excellent cook.
The red Mas de Daumas Gassac is bottled now as IGP Saint-Guilhem-Le-Désert Cité d'Aniane and is produced from a base of around 70% Cabernet Sauvignon along with lesser volumes of up to 23 other grape varieties which may include Tannat, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Bastardo, Carmenère and Malbec etc. It undergoes a long fermentation and is macerated for at least 20 days before being matured in vat and barrels (of 1 to 7 years of age) for 12 to 15 months before blending and bottling. The finished wine is best drunk on its youthful fruit or with 5 to 20 years maturity. With complex garrigue herb and berry aromas and a core of red and black fruit with peppery undertones, fresh acidity and supple tannins, it is a wine with a strong sense of terroir and has justifiably garnered a loyal, international following. It makes a fine accompaniment to traditional Mediterranean cuisine rich in olive oil, herbs and plenty of garlic.