Les Vignes Oubliees Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac 2015
The high altitude of the Larzac plateau combines with a schist and sandstone soil to give unusually fresh, delicate wines with silky tannins that also have the garrigue aromas and great generosity that are characteristic of the Languedoc. Though the first vintage is still young, the wine promises to age very gracefully for at least a decade.
Les Vignes Oubliées is hard to categorize: though the quality and quantity produced suggest an exacting family estate, it is in fact a sort of boutique cooperative—a self-proclaimed “collective of small farmers.” Clustered around the tiny village of Saint Privat, the terraced vineyards sit at 350 meters altitude, placing them among the region’s highest. Winemaker Jean-Baptiste Granier works closely with four vignerons who entrust their fruit to him, ensuring that both sides maintain their stringent standards. The high altitude of the Larzac plateau combines with schist and sandstone soil to give unusually fresh, delicate wines with silky tannins that also have garrigue aromas and great generosity characteristic of the Languedoc.
Created in 2014 to showcase the unique quality of its wines, Terrasses du Larzac actually has a wine heritage over a millennium old. This red-only appellation is defined by its place at the base of the Larzac plateau northeast of Montpellier in the Languedoc. A wide range of soils—limestone, scree, sand, iron-rich clay—and one of the widest diurnal temperature variations in the world allow even berry ripening and fabulous complexity in the wines.
Terrasses du Larzac wines must be composed of at least three grapes, and may include Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre, Cinsault and Carignan. Known for their intensity and concentration of dark berry fruit, influenced by the thyme, lavender and other herbs of the garrigue, the region’s basic reds make for succulent, food-friendly bistro wines. The best of Terrasses du Larzac (Montpeyroux, Aniane, and Mont Baudile are particularly noteworthy sites) will improve for decades, and are among the hidden gems of the wine world.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.