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Chateau Maris Biodynamic Old Vine Syrah 2007
About the Vineyards
The Chateau Maris estate is located on 210 acres in the Minervois La Livinière appellation of the Languedoc. La Livinière is the first village in the Languedoc to be allowed to put its name after the appellation name, indicating that this specific area produces wines of distinct quality.
Chateau Maris vines are certified biodynamic by Biodyvin and organic by Ecocert. Vineyard management practices on the estate focus on increasing soil fertility and health by introducing live matter via compost and companion planting. Two plough horses are kept on the property to avoid damage to vineyards caused by heavy tractors.
The Chateau Maris vineyards sprawl across a series of hillsides and terraces, with the terraces devoted primarily to Syrah and the hillsides devoted primarily to Grenache. The Syrah is concentrated on the terraces due to better drainage conditions, which the Syrah specifically requires. All the vineyards are surrounded by a rich Garrigue, scrubland similar to Chaparral of the American Southwest, which imbues the grapes with their distinct flavors and bouquets.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 92-93 Points
To craft wines that reveal the true character of the land, Château Maris strictly adheres to biodynamics, which is in effect a supercharged system of organic farming. Similar to organic farming, biodynamics adopts a holistic approach that views the entire vineyard as a living system that is impacted by its surroundings. Biodynamics seeks to encourage vitality in the vineyard by introducing live matter into the soil through intensive composting. In addition, biodynamics places a strong emphasis on harnessing naturally occurring cycles.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality and value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Rhône. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône Valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
Marked by unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.