Domaine Lafage Tessellae Old Vines Carignan 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Jean-Marc farms (with some help!) 160 hectares of vines located just south of the capital of French Catalonia, Perpignan. Some of his family’s vineyards are situated a few kilometers from the Mediterranean, while others can be found further inland in the foothills of the Pyrenees or near the village of his birth, Maury. This range of sites allows him to make both refreshing whites, rich, concentrated reds, and fortified wines as well. Benefiting from a warm, dry climate, the estate is farmed organically. They grow primarily Grenache (Blanc, Gris & Noir), Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Marsanne, Roussanne and Chardonnay with a significant proportion of his vines well over 50 years old. The soil, as you near the coast is weathered, alluvial gravel while in the higher elevation sites it is predominantly schist. They harvest by hand and the winemaking is surprisingly uncomplicated with stainlesss steel for the fresher whites but mainly concrete tanks for the reds with a judicious amount of large French oak barrels for aging.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good quality and great values, Languedoc spans the Mediterranean coast from the Pyrenees mountains of Roussillon all the way to the Rhône Valley. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and frequent risk of drought.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Most dry wines are blends with varietal choice 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, Macabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
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.
Responsible for some of the most stunning old vine red wine on the planet, Carignan has an amazing capacity to survive dry, arid climates and still produce lovely, mouthwatering wine. In Spain it goes by the name of Mazuelo and while it may have originated there in the province of Aragón, its popularity lies elsewhere, particularly in Languedoc-Roussillon. Somm Secret—Historically Carignan did not enjoy the respect that it does today. In the mid 20th century, Carignan covered nearly 140,000 ha in Algeria, where it was made into low quality bulk and blending wine to supply mass-market demand.