La Peira

La Peira “Easily one of the top estates in all of France” Wine Advocate | "Southern France's first Growth" Zachys

Limited Edition Print: Le Vignoble de La Peira

LE VIGNOBLE DE LA PÈIRA
LE PARCELLAIRE ET LES CÉPAGES

To mark the 10th vintage of the current team at La Pèira we commissioned British designer, Simon Mercer, to create a limited edition print mapping the various / (with the cepages planted) where the wines are grown. La Pèira is grown on the Bois de Pauliau, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre from Belle Fiolle (Bellefeuille) comprise Las Flors, the estate’s second wine, Carignan and Cinsault from Belle Fiolle and Les Pointes make up the Obriers cuvee.

The Vineyards of La Pèira – The Land and Cepages
By Simon Mercer

The limited edition print of 500 is printed on French fine art paper, with each print stamped and numbered.

It can be purchased at the Especiariá Store here:

Limited Edition Map Print | Le Vignoble de La Pèira – Le Parcellaire et les Cépages  

This is not the first time we’ve done this. Abigail Daker’s print Le Grand Cru du Sud de la France / Southern France’s First Growth issued at the beginning of 2015 can be seen here.

Framed Carte- Le Vignoble de La Peira Map only hi-res final

La Peira 2013 Vintage: “In contrast to elsewhere in France, 2013 was a superb vintage in Languedoc-Roussillon”

La Peira 2013 Vintage image

La Peira 2013 Vintage

La Pèira Vintage 2013

A poor vintage in most of France, perhaps uniquely, in this region, 2013 was exceptional. “In contrast to elsewhere in France, 2013 was a superb vintage in Languedoc-Roussillon.” Decanter Magazine on the 2013 Vintage.

PDF of the Vintage (with Wine Reviews) here.

Cliquez ici pour le site français: La Pèira journal

If in Bordeaux, 2013 was one of the hardest vintages for 30 years; in Burgundy, the second growing season from hell in a row; and in the Rhône a tricky vintage as well – in our region the vintage has been reported to be as good as the best vintages of the 80s and the 90s, and a super year for Syrah. “Certainly the best vintage since 2001”, one grower opined, summarising the consensus view.

Jeb Dunnuck, of the Wine Advocate, concurred with growers and other observers in his 2014 overview of the vintage, stating:

“While the vast majority of France struggled in 2013 with cooler, rainy conditions, the perennial sunny Languedoc and Roussillon are on track to have a good, possibly exceptional vintage. A late harvest across the region, Jérémie Depierre of La Pèira calls the vintage “great” but atypical, and goes on to say that it “combines that delicacy and youthful feeling of finesse of the 2012 – but with more the frame and body of 2011 – or even a hint of the 2010.” Claude Fonquerle of L’Oustal Blanc also says that the vintage is atypical, but comments on the silkiness and high quality of the tannin. Anne Gros of Domaine Anne Gros calls the vintage great, going on to say that there was “late maturity with excellent acidity and moderate degrees (of alcohol).” She elaborates that the vintage is “one of precision, a touch of austerity, and in the future, great concentration? a great vintage … to keep!” (The Languedoc and Roussillon: 2011, 2012 and 2013 May 1, 2014).

The vintage in précis:

• A cold, wet spring
• A late Flowering in first & second week of June, several weeks behind schedule
• Moderate temperatures during the growing season and a cool summer
• A warm “Indian summer” at the end encouraged ripeness
• Glorious sunshine and warmth over the late-season of September and October at La Pèira allowed the harvesting of ripe grapes without the threat of rain, or rot

And the result? 

• Aromatic similarities to the cooler, more blue fruit and mineral-driven 2012s
• Fresh, lively and focused wines. But at La Pèira with a concentration, purity of fruit, with ample tannin.
• 2013 is perhaps a contrast to the recent richer vintages like 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010
• Bright acidities, yet with depth on the mid-palate and concentration

“In contrast to elsewhere in France, 2013 was a superb vintage in Languedoc-Roussillon.” Decanter Magazine on the 2013 Vintage

“In contrast to elsewhere in France, 2013 was
a superb vintage in Languedoc-Roussillon.”
Decanter Magazine on the 2013 Vintage

La Pèira 2013 – Terrasses Du Larzac

It was also a special vintage at La Pèira, as it was the penultimate vinified by Jérémie Depierre (2014 the last), and the first where we bottled a certain cuvée that we’ve spent 10 years preparing for (growing, planting, tresising, planning): the La Pèira blanc 2013.

La Pèira Blanc

Since the first vintage we’ve made the white, Deusyls (the white equivalent of the domaine’s second wine, Las Flors.)

From the beginning it was received well:

“This is one of the best white wines I have tasted from the Midi. It has texture, warmth and viscosity, a nose that evokes fennel, spring flowers, lemon, crushed chalk and a hint of tobacco” said Simon Field of its first vintage, the 2005.

10 years later, in 2015, we’ve finally got to the point where, with a lot of work and preparation we’re confident enough to bottle the La Pèira white. We’ve worked with the white varieties now for a decade; a decade of really intensive vineyard work and farming. Over that period we’ve planted more white varieties, starting off with Viognier and the Roussanne, and then we added Marsanne and Clairette Blanche and also Grenache blanc. There’s been a huge amount of work that’s happened on the white side – and also the red side in the same vein – at La Pèira in the last ten years. All of which is just now finding its way into the cuvées. We have continually improved our viticulture, the trellising and working of the vines with an ambitious white development programme, and the planting of additional red grape varieties and plots.

La Peira Blanc

La Peira Blanc

On the red front, we’ve had the planting Syrah in Bois de Pauliau in 2009 & 2012 – which is now just coming into its own, and new Grenache on the Pauliau plot in 2012, (both of which will hopefully enter the La Pèira cuvee at some point) along with the acquiring very exciting old plots of Carignan and Cinsault that we’ve have nursed and worked with over the last years. So really the white has now come on leaps and bounds. We’re also now in a position to look back and taste the 2005 and see how is that white – the Deusyls de la Pèira – is tasting after ten years. We intend to make the La Pèira blanc in the same spirit as the La Pèira red. (Where there the La Pèira white is the first wine and the Deusyls is the second white.) The new plantings and all the vineyard work has finally given us the confidence to make a La Pèira Blanc. And exciting possibilities in the years ahead on the red front.

Robert Dougan July, 2015

La Peira 2013

La Peira 2013

The Reviews

La Pèira 2013

“ Moving to their top cuvee, the 2013 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira shows the purity and freshness of the vintage. Tasted out of barrel and a blend of mostly Syrah, with one-third Grenache, it exhibits impressive raspberry, cassis, violets (and assorted floral nuances), exotic spices and licorice to go with a medium to full-bodied, vibrant and decidedly elegant and fresh profile on the palate. As with the other 2013 barrel samples, I expect this to continue to gain weight and richness in barrel. Given the overall purity and balance, I imagine it will be reasonably approachable on release, yet benefit from short-term cellaring.”

Wine Advocate 95–97/100

Las Flors de la Peira 2013

Las Flors de la Peira 2013

Las Flors De La Pèira 2013

“ The 2013 Terrasses du Larzac Las Flors de La Pèira checks in as a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10–15% Mourvedre and the balance Cinsault and Carignan. Aged 18 months in a combination of small and larger barrels, 15–20% being new, it is a pretty, perfumed and elegant rendition of the cuvee that exhibits plenty of strawberry, raspberry, lilac and exotic spices to go with a medium-bodied, energetic feel on the palate. Juicy and decidedly fresh, it should continue to gain weight in barrel and flesh out once bottled.”

Wine Advocate 91–94/100

Obriers de la Peira 2014

Obriers de la Peira 2014

Obriers De La Pèira 2014

“Then there is also what might be regarded as a third wine, Les Obriers de la Pèira, that retails at around £17 a bottle (see my tasting notes on a wide array of vintages with an average score of around 16 or 16.5).”

Jancis Robinson

“ Gorgeous blueberry, blackberry and raspberry notes jump from the glass of this elegant, pure, medium-bodied wine that has exceptional fragrance at this price point, excellent concentration and nice texture and overall equilibrium. This is a beauty that’s quite Burgundian in style and very pure. Drink it over the next 2–3 years.”

Wine Advocate, 90/100

Inaugural Release of the La Pèira Blanc

Inaugural Release of the La Pèira Blanc

Inaugural Release of the La Pèira Blan

La Pèira Blanc

We’re excited to announce the release of the La Pèira blanc 2013. This is the first release of this cuvée, and there’s only 500 bottles, so we may follow this up with the release of the La Pèira blanc 2014.

As mentioned, we’ve bottled a second white, the Deusyls de la Pèira, since 2005, and from the first, the critical response was exceptional:

“This is one of the best white wines I have tasted from the Midi.” Simon Field MW BBR & The World of Fine Wine –

“Like a lovely Northern Rhône white. Really exciting and good.” Jancis Robinson on the same 2005 Deusyls vintage

“The rare white from La Pèira is surprising even its creators with its excellence and stamina, and new plantings have recently gone in of Roussanne as well as some Marsanne.” David Schildknecht Wine Advocate & The World of Fine Wine.

Since then, we’ve learnt more about the background of the white varieties at La Pèira, as this interview with Jancis Robinson for her article La Pèira vertical and other Languedoc treasures relates:

“Oddly for this region, La Pèira’s Bois de Pauliau vineyard has been designated AOC for over half a century, as the most northerly of the two zones of the Clairette du Languedoc AOC (1948). Near La Pèira, and still in the Clairette AOC, France’s earliest known winery (10 AD) was discovered in 2007. Indeed, the first mention of French wine in literature as being of significant merit is found in Pliny’s Natural History (77–79 AD) in which the white wines of Baeterrae [Béziers] nearby are cited as worthy of note (alongside the resinous reds of Vienne). (Béziers is situated on a vast plain of quaternary alluvium that follows two seams northward along the Orb river toward St-Chinian and along the Hérault river toward the Terrasses du Larzac).”

Inspired by this history of white wine production, we’ve planted Clairette, alongside Marsanne, Roussanne in 2009, and further Roussanne and Grenache blanc in 2013.

The La Pèira blanc cuvee is a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier. Roussanne, of course, along with Marsanne, comprise the great Hermitage whites, with the Viognier grape comprising the wines of Condrieu.

The first of these plantings are coming on board. And this, alongside the vineyard work, and the encouraging tastings of the Deusyls 2005 and other vintages over the last 10 years has led to the development of the La Pèira blanc (albeit in limited availability).

Jancis Robinson on La Pèira Vertical and other Languedoc Treasures

Jancis Robinson on La Pèira Vertical and other Languedoc Treasures

La Peira

La Peira

Introducing Audrey Bonnet–Koenig

We are absolutely delighted to welcome Audrey Bonnet–Koenig on board. Especially so, as this growing session has proved meticulous. Audrey takes up the baton from Jeremie Depierre, whose time at La Pèira, over 10 years, ending with the 2014 vintage was one of extraordinary achievement. (See own piece first published March 11, 2009. For more details click here.)

About Audrey

Audrey is from Strasbourg, Alsace. After studying science, she changed course to study as an agronomic engineerIntroducing Audrey Bonnet–Koenig at Pèira at the University of Bordeaux, then joined the research lab of Denis Dubourdieu, Professor of Oenology at the University of Bordeaux (working with Château Doisy Daëne, Clos Floridène and consultant at Château Cheval Blanc) also working at the associated oenological lab.

Gaining some international experience working in Franschhoek, in the Stellenbosch region, she returned to France finally becoming Directrice technique at Château de Sérame a 500 hectare property located near the Canal du Midi and owned by the Dourthe / CBGB Grand Crus groupe. There she was responsible for the winemaking, and vine growing, converting the entire 175 hectare of vineyard to organic farming. For the last 7 years she’s worked with Oenologist Claude Gros who has worked with us at La Pèira from the start.

La Peira Offer En Primeur 2013

La Peira En Primeur 2013:2014 offer

La Pèira Offer En Primeur 2013

La Peira Offer En Primeur 2013 Finishes

At the end of last year, the ‘Who’s Who in France’ by Meininger’s Wine Business Internationalafter citing names such as Bize Leroy, Aubert de Villaine, & the Guigal Family (along with Dubourdieu, Rolland, and Derenoncourt) made the following observation:

“Finally, a tip for forward looking wine buyers. There is speculation that investing, for both pleasure and profit, in Languedoc Roussillon rather than Bordeaux might be the way to go. Names cited as worth watching include Isabelle and Mathieu Champart at Mas Champart, Jérémie Depierre and consultant oenologist Claude Gros at La Pèira, Olivier Jullien at Mas Jullien and Claude and Isabel Fonquerle at L’Oustal Blanc.”

Uniquely in France, 2013 was an exceptional vintage in this region.

And for the very first time, this year, we made an En Primeur offer for the 2013/2014 vintage (now closed).

We offered a ‘bespoke’ option, and had impressive requests for everything from a Magnum to Salmanazars…

And also a default option where a half case or full case of one or several wines could be selected.

2013 En Primeur Offer 2

For those who didn’t take advantage of this, do drop us a line regarding next year, and do search out these wonderful wines (notes follow) now they’ve been released.

Tasting notes

2013 La Pèira 

“Moving to their top cuvee, the 2013 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira shows the purity and freshness of the vintage. Tasted out of barrel and a blend of mostly Syrah, with one-third Grenache, it exhibits impressive raspberry, cassis, violets (and assorted floral nuances), exotic spices and licorice to go with a medium to full-bodied, vibrant and decidedly elegant and fresh profile on the palate. As with the other 2013 barrel samples, I expect this to continue to gain weight and richness in barrel. Given the overall purity and balance, I imagine it will be reasonably approachable on release, yet benefit from short-term cellaring.” 95–97/100 Wine Advocate

2013 Las Flors de la Pèira 

“The 2013 Terrasses du Larzac Las Flors de La Pèira checks in as a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10-15% Mourvedre and the balance Cinsault and Carignan. Aged 18 months in a combination of small and larger barrels, 15-20% being new, it is a pretty, perfumed and elegant rendition of the cuvee that exhibits plenty of strawberry, raspberry, lilac and exotic spices to go with a medium-bodied, energetic feel on the palate. Juicy and decidedly fresh, it should continue to gain weight in barrel and flesh out once bottled.” 91-94/100 Wine Advocate

Obriers de la Pèira 2014  Unreviewed as yet

“Then there is also what might be regarded as a third wine, Les Obriers de la Pèira, that retails at around £17 a bottle (see my tasting notes on a wide array of vintages with an average score of around 16 or 16.5).” Jancis Robinson on the Obriers cuvee *

All previous vintages of the Obriers since 2005 have been rated 90/100 or over
Wine Advocate on the Obriers Cuvee

(* See: Article: La Pèira vertical and other [Languedoc treasures] http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/la-peira-vertical-and-other-languedoc-treasures _

A Look at La Peira’s 2012-2013 offering

Cover Image from La Peira vintages 2012-2013 (reviews)-5An Overview of La Pèira’s Current Release: 2012-2013

2012 was an interesting and perhaps atypical vintage at La Pèira. Jancis Robinson spoke some its qualities in her review below of the 2012, pinpointing, “lots of sinewy appeal”, “Cool and fresh”. Jeb Dunnuck of the Wine Advocate spoke of “medium to full-bodied wines”, “Pure, focused and nicely concentrated”. This vintage is matched with the 2013 bottlings of the Obriers de la Pèira, the domaine’s third wine, and the white, Deusyls de La Pèira. Both in the wonderfully exuberant primary phase at the moment.

Information about the vintages and La Pèira are set out (alongside some lovely images of the domaine) in the following brochures in English ( La Peira: Vintages 2012-2013  ) and French ( La Peira: Notre Millesime 2012-2013 ).

A summery of current reviews follows:

La Pèira 2012

The 2012 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira is similar in style, with lively and fresh cassis, black raspberry, graphite, licorice and cedar notes flowing to a medium to full-bodied, profile on the palate. Pure, focused and nicely concentrated, enjoy it over the coming 10–12 years. Wine Advocate 94–96/100

Mid ruby. Very different from the previous vintages – and I suspect not just because it is younger. Broader and more floral and transparent somehow. A real joker with none of the intensity of the previous vintages but with lots of sinewy appeal. Cool and fresh and with lots of freshness. To be drunk sooner than some? Jancis Robinson 17/20

Image LP from La Peira vintages 2012-2013 (reviews)-2
Las Flors de la Pèira 2012

In the same mould, with an overall elegant, seamless feel, the 2012 Terrasses du Larzac Las Flors de La Pèira gives up ample blackberry, pepper, crushed flowers, resinous herbs and hints of licorice in it’s medium-bodied, nicely textured and balanced personality. It should drink well on release and evolve gracefully through 2022. Wine Advocate 90–93/100

Image LF from La Peira vintages 2012-2013 (reviews)-3

Obriers de la Pèira 2013
Moving to their entry level, Cinsault-based release, the 2013 Terrasses du Larzac Les Obriers de la Pèira (65% Cinsault and 35% Carignan aged half in oak tanks and half in 600-liter barrels) is perfumed and complex, with plenty of sweet kirsch, exotic pepper, spices and leatherstyled aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, lightly textured and elegant, with a seamless profile, it should easily be an outstanding example of this cuvee and drink nicely for 5–8 years. Wine Advocate 90–92/100

Image 2 from La Peira vintages 2012-2013 (reviews)

Deusyls de La Pèira 2013

The 2013 Deusyls de La Pèira Blanc, which was tasted out of barrel, is a blend of 55% Roussanne, 40% Viognier and 5% Marsanne that’s aging all in smaller barrels. Offering up gorgeous apple, citrus blossom and ample minerality in its medium-bodied, fresh and pure profile, it has both freshness and richness, with beautiful length. Enjoy it over the coming 3–5 years. Wine Advocate 92–94/100

Image Deusyls from La Peira vintages 2012-2013 (reviews)-4

Especiaria de La Peira: Online store

Especiariá de la Pèira- Online Store for unavailable vintages, large format bottlings, and en premier offers only

Photo credit: Georges Souche

 

Especiariá de La Pèira: Online store

After some time, we’re delight to announce the launch of our Especiariá de La Pèira (our online store purely for the sale of unavailable vintages & large format bottlings as well as en premier offers). Especiariá – an Occitan word – finds its match in French with the word: épicerie.

For some time we’ve had a small store in French only, supplied from our home in Southern France, for delivery in France only. It is here. That’s where this first came about.

Now for the first time we’ve extended this into English, and with a wider delivery range.

Current vintages of the wines of La Pèira cannot be acquired there (see here for stockists)

Abigail Daker Limited Edition Print

Excited to be able to offer a few old hidden treasures from the cellars at La Pèira, we commissioned the British fine artist, Abigail Daker, to create a limited edition print to mark the opening of our Especiariá.

Abgail took a view of the Lieu-dit that produces the La Pèira cuvée (the Bois de Pauliau) and combined it with some kind words of Andrew McMurray (Vice President of Zachys Wine Merchants) on La Pèira, creating a striking Limited Edition print.

Inspired in part by the vintage iconic Southern France advertising prints – those of Pernod and Railway & Travel graphic works spring to mind – the print is released in an edition of 400.

More about a launch voucher marking the same below – but, before that, here it is the print:

La-Peira-Southern France's First Growth-Abigail-En-aLa-Peira-Le Grand Cru du Sud de la France-Abigail-fr-a

It can be seen here at the Especiariá Store:

Limited Edition Print by Abigail Daker “Southern France’s First Growth”  or here: “Le Grand Cru du Sud de la France” Limited Edition Print

Launch Voucher

As we’ve just launched – and while everything functions smoothly – just in case there any small issues that need to be ironed out, we’re offering a voucher (with a discount of 10%) over the period until the end of the End of January.

The voucher code is: LaPeiraBetaLaunch

The domaine can be contacted (below) and with a similar form on each page on the Especiariá site. This form can also be used for any questions or queries.

Again the address is here: Especiariá de La Pèira . Feel free to peruse and let us know regarding an comments, requests, or complaints.


Locating you geographically would help us greatly and allow us not to disturb you unnecessarily


Jancis Robinson on La Peira vertical 2005-2013 and other Languedoc treasures

Jancis Robinson on La Pèira vertical 2005-2013

“Below most significantly is an account of all vintages ever made of the grand vin of one of the Languedoc’s most ambitious estates, La Pèira en Damaisèla”
reports Jancis Robinson MW in her article on her November La Peira vertical tasting of the vintages 2005-2012.

GSO_1410301834_2

November at La Peira: The chai among the vines Photo Credit: Georges Souche

November can be grim. “No sun – no moon! No morn – no noon – No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day”, the poet Thomas Hood wrote of the month. But for its many imperfections, it’s surely the perfect month of the year to pair with red wine. You hear no no’s in November when the subject of a glass of red wine is raised. After November, merriness turns to indulgence, indulgence to indolence, indolence to reflection, and reflection to thoughts of self improvement, and with that the New Year has begun.

So it was that early in the New Year, Jancis Robinson MW published her November vertical tasting notes of the wine of La Pèira – vintages 2005-2013.

This was not the first vertical tasting of the La Pèira wines. No, the very first took place at royal warrant-holding wine merchants Berry Bros & Rudd London’s St James’ cellars on a June evening in 2011.

There, after an aperitif (Champagne Pierre Péters) several flights of older vintages of the wines of La Pèira were looked at by a small but appreciative audience lead by Simon Field MW.

Long after the Harvest: Autumnal November at La PèiraPhoto Credit: Georges Souche

Long after the Harvest: Autumnal November at La PèiraPhoto Credit: Georges Souche

The second occurred after strong spring rains in Southern France in 2013 with wine writer Andrew Jefford and was written-up for Decanter Magazine and Gourmet Traveller Wine. Gathered around a wooden table in the center of the chai at La Pèira, Mr Jefford marveled at the soil’s capacity to absorb the vast amounts of water these exceptional spring rains had visited upon them.

Anyway, fortunately for us – be it a valiant defiance of the November gloom, or a popular appreciation of the region – Jancis Robinson’s tasting article takes an in-depth look at the history, geology, and background of the La Pèira estate.

The article begins with an interested fact. Apparently, a recent survey of what articles are deemed most popular on her site reveal her readers have a particularly interested the wines of the Languedoc. As she relates, “I’m thrilled by this as I sincerely believe that the best wines of the Languedoc represent some of France’s best value: great handcrafted, terroir-influenced wine”.

On the La Pèira wines:

“These wines really are very good as they should be since they cost around £70 a bottle from their principal UK retailer Berry Bros ­although admittedly only about 300 cases are made each year. They also make about 500 cases of a second wine, the red Rhône blend Las Flors de la Pèira (about £30 a bottle), and a white blend Deusyls de la Pèira at the same price. And as though this were not enough, there is a varietal Mourvèdre called Matissat, about which I wrote last year in La Pèira’s varietal Mourvèdre.”

In a region where excellent wines are made from a blend of different grape varieties grown significant distances from each other on differing sites with various aspects and soils, La Pèira cuvée is unusual. Why? All the grapes are on grown on plots meters away from each other (on the Bois de Pauliau) and vinified meters away again. As Jancis reports:

“The grand vin is generally made up of about 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache grown, unusually for the region, side by side on the same soils, deep gravelly quaternary alluvium. Co-owner Rob Dougan describes these deposits as ‘set down here over the same period, and in the same way as those in the Médoc, Graves, St-Émilion or Pomerol ­ but just on a different side of the Massif Central. Instead of the Gironde you have the Hérault river…”

The full article is here, and an excerpt follows:

Written by

  • Jancis Robinson 9 Jan 2014

Below most significantly is an account of all vintages ever made of the grand vin of one of the Languedoc’s most ambitious estates, La Pèira en Damaisèla. These wines really are very good – as they should be since they cost around £70 a bottle from their principal UK retailer Berry Bros – although admittedly only about 300 cases are made each year. They also make about 500 cases of a second wine, the red Rhône blend Las Flors de la Pèira (about £30 a bottle), and a white blend Deusyls de la Pèira at the same price. Then there is also what might be regarded as a third wine, Les Obriers de la Pèira, that retails at around £17 a bottle (see my tasting notes on a wide array of vintages with an average score of around 16 or 16.5). And as though this were not enough, there is a varietal Mourvèdre called Matissat, about which I wrote last year in La Pèira’s varietal Mourvèdre.

The 11.4-ha property is located on the wild terrain of the Terrasses du Larzac high above the Languedoc plain in the Hérault. The grand vin is generally made up of about 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache grown, unusually for the region, side by side on the same soils, deep gravelly quaternary alluvium. Co-owner Rob Dougan describes these deposits as ‘set down here over the same period, and in the same way as those in the Médoc, Graves, St-Émilion or Pomerol – but just on a different side of the Massif Central. Instead of the Gironde you have the Hérault river…

‘Oddly for this region, La Pèira’s Bois de Pauliau vineyard has been designated AOC for over half a century, as the most northerly of the two zones of the Clairette du Languedoc AOC (1948). Near La Pèira, and still in the Clairette AOC, France’s earliest known winery (10 AD) was discovered in 2007. Indeed, the first mention of French wine in literature as being of significant merit is found in Pliny’s Natural History (77-79 AD) in which the white wines of Baeterrae [Béziers] nearby are cited as worthy of note (alongside the resinous reds of Vienne). (Béziers is situated on a vast plain of quaternary alluvium that follows two seams northward along the Orb river toward St-Chinian and along the Hérault river toward the Terrasses du Larzac – see below). And, of course, Hugh Johnson states of this area in The Story of Wine: “These are the first extensive vineyards in France we can be certain about”.’

La_Peira_map

The property is co-owned by Karine Ahton and Robert Dougan with Jérémie Depierre as winemaker and Claude Gros as consultant. Varieties grown are Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Clairette. Here’s their assessment of the character of each of the vintages described below.

  • 2005 – the first vintage; concentrated and ripe
  • 2006 – a cooler year
  • 2007 – a great year
  • 2008 – another cooler vintage
  • 2009 – a warm vintage
  • 2010 – a great vintage
  • 2011 – an excellent and very interesting year slightly more akin to the 2006, 2008
  • 2012 – a lighter and unusual vintage for La Pèira which has produced very interesting results

La Pèira has had less than 10 years to establish a reputation whereas Mas de Daumas Gassac on the outskirts of Aniane south east of La Pèira has been waving the flag for top-quality wine from the Languedoc since its first vintage, 1978. Advised initially by the late Professor Émile Peynaud of Bordeaux, the Guibert family have put most of their eggs in the Cabernet Sauvignon basket. This can mean that in youth the reds can seem pretty callow, so I was delighted to have the chance to taste a fully mature example, a 2000, alongside the latest release of the red, and the particularly interesting and distinctive blended dry white. Richard is planning to attend a major vertical tasting of wines from this celebrated property just before Vinisud, the southern French wine fair in Montpellier, next month.

LA PÈIRA

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2012 Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac

Mid ruby. Very different from the previous vintages – and I suspect not just because it is younger. Broader and more floral and transparent somehow. A real joker with none of the intensity of the previous vintages but with lots of sinewy appeal. Cool and fresh and with lots of freshness. To be drunk sooner than some? 14.5% Drink 2016-2022 17

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2011 Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac

Crimson and not that dense. Mid crimson. Treacle notes with herbs and spices. Dry finish. Still neat and racy. Transparent. Lively. Overall there is the trademark combination of minerals and sweetness. Sweetness dominates at the moment. Then a bit chewy on the end. 14.5% Drink 2017-2030 17

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2010 Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac

Very dark indeed. Complex, well-balanced nose. Still very youthful but with most impressive raw ingredients. Lots of both tannin and acidity. Young but hugely promising. Not too hot but very nuanced with a dry, terroir-driven finish. Neat, reminds me of a particularly good Douro red table wine. 14.5% Drink 2017-2030 18

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2009 Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac

A warm year. Pruney colour. Scented and charming. More obviously sweet and pruney than the earlier vintages. Not as refreshing as some. A bit drying on the end. Very sweet overall. A dramatic wine but less my style than some others. Quite chunky tannins. Heat on the finish. 14.5% Drink 2017-2025 17

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2008 Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac

A cool year. Dark brownish crimson. Scented and expressive. Quite marked acidity but lovely texture and fluidity. Still with tannins lightly in evidence on the finish. Dry, as opposed to sweet, overall. Lots of minerals and interest here – all nicely showcased. 14.5% Drink 2015-2023 17

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2007 Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac

Dark purplish crimson. Particularly intense nose – so intense that it needs a great deal of coaxing out of the glass. Very intense, almost mentholated nose. Still introvert. Masses of tannin and fruit density but at the moment not much expression. Thick and embryonic with a bit of heat on the finish. 14.5% Drink 2015-2025 17+

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2006 Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac

Healthy crimson. A cooler year maybe but a much more refined wine than the very slightly rustic 2005. Polished with a wonderfully sumptuous texture and delightful freshness on the finish after a richly dark-fruited start. There’s something black about this wine: tar? liquorice? But overall it has great presence on the palate. Neat finish. 14.5% Drink 2010-2022 17.5

La Pèira, La Pèira en Damaisèla 2005 Coteaux du Languedoc

Hot year. Very concentrated ruby right out to the rim. Warm and savoury on the nose. Really dense and satisfying, even if far from subtle. Quite a charge of tannins still – quite 2005 (as in Bordeaux)! Sweet and with a lightly burnt note. A wine to make an impact, and one that does slightly remind me of Trevallon. Sweet blackberry fruit on the finish and a certain graininess. As though the grape skins were pretty thick. 14.5% Drink 2010-2020 16.5

MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2012 IGP St-Guilhem-le-Désert

Viognier, Chardonnay, an unspecified Manseng and Chenin Blanc. Honeyed Viognier elbows its way to the front on the nose but there is admirable tang (thanks to the Manseng?) and acidity (Chenin?). Complex and saved from being fat. Already fun to drink but it tastes as though it will become more interesting. Still a bit tense on the finish. 13.5 Drink 2013-2017 16.5

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2011 IGP St-Guilhem-le-Désert

80% Cabernet Sauvignon. Still very youthful nose (to be fair, the back label suggests three to five years old for drinking young but up to 25 years for drinking it ‘en majesté‘. Dark crimson with more than a suggestion of warm earth underlying the Cabernet structure. Interesting wine with real depth but no excess of sweetness nor alcohol. Halfway between claret and La Pèira? It would be a waste to drink something so embryonic now but it certainly seems to have potential. Just a bit inky on the finish at the moment. 13.5% Drink 2016-2028 16.5+

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2000 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault

I had to guess at the alcohol since there was a mark over the relevant figure on the label. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest is a big mix. Pale evolved ruby. Tasted immediately after two rather smart 2000 St-Emilions, this by no means disgraced itself and arguably had more complexity and grunt. Lovely sweetness on the finish but really appetising savoury fruit beforehand. Good freshness too. Some floral notes on the nose and a little dusty soil taste on the palate. Good wine! 13% Drink 2009-2013 18

Bravo et Bonne Chance

Jeremie Depierre at La Peira

Bravo et Bonne Chance

Jérémie Depierre at La Pèira: Millesimes/Vintages 2005–2014

 

It is due to Jérémie’s hard work (often in impossible circumstances) and diligent efforts that La Pèira has been such a success since the beginning.

Now, after 10 vintages, and almost a decade at La Pèira, Jérémie is making a well-deserved departure for a new job at a beautifully-situated domaine near the village of Roussillon in Provence.

While this year sees his last vintage at La Pèira (2014) – due for release in 2016 – we hope to have Jérémie as a long-standing presence at La Pèira verticals for many years to come.

The domaine’s debt to him is immense. And it is with great thanks – and much anticipation – that we look forward to what comes next.

A good account of Jérémie’s time at La Pèira can be read here, and is worth reading, if only perhaps as it conveys how brilliant work was done in trying circumstances.

We’re certainly of the view that magnificent work was done by M. Jérémie Depierre at La Pèira over Millesimes/Vintages 2005–2014. So Bravo et Bonne Chance with all the exciting challenges the future brings.

 

 

Terrasses du Larzac: France’s Oldest Viticultural Region – Southern France’s Newest Appellation

la-peira-AOC Terrasses du Larzac: France's Oldest viticultural Region - Southern France's Newest Appellation Photo Credit: Georges Souche

Terrasses du Larzac : France’s Oldest viticultural Region – Southern France’s Newest Appellation [Photo Credit: Georges Souche]

Terrasses du Larzac: France’s Oldest Viticultural Region Southern France’s Newest Appellation

It’s been reported in Decanter Magazine, by the Wine Spectator, and around the world from Sweden to Hong Kong.

The Terrasses du Larzac has been approved by the French authorities as a stand-alone appellation. (The name reflects the region’s northerly position inland in the piedmont of the high Larzac plateau, Southern France.)

As the famous French wine critics, Bettane et Desseauve awarded it ‘French Appellation of the Year’ in 2011, the Mondavi family famously battled for a slice of it, and Andrew Jefford described it in 2009 in the pages of the Financial Times as, “some of the greatest vineyard land in the south of France”  you’d be forgiven for thinking it already was an appellation. 

But for much this time it was a sub-appellation, as part of the (now retired) Coteaux du Languedoc.

As from time to time there are new appellations decreed in France this is not news.

But that Southern France’s newest AOC sits in France’s oldest-known viticultural region – and the birth place of France wine – probably is.

“The first extensive vineyards in France we can be certain about”

As Hugh Johnson (the world’s best-selling wine writer) writes of this area in his authoritative, The Story of Wine:

“These are the first extensive vineyards in France we can be certain about”.

La Pèira: The view to Pic de Vissou  (Photo credit- Georges Souche)

La Pèira: The view to Pic de Vissou (Photo credit- Georges Souche)

More has come to light since his history was published in 1989 (with a new edition in 2004) but further on that later.

The announcement means La Peira’s commune of Saint-André-de-Sangonis is now part of two stand-alone AOC’s.

The first, held for over half a century, is for the white Clairette du Languedoc AOC decreed in 1948.

The second now is for the production of red wine as Terrasses du Larzac.

(On a side note, it’s often overlooked just how recent wine appellations are in France. The first came about in 1936. In fact much to do French wine is comparatively recent. The first estate to bottle its own wine was in 1924 [Mouton Rothschild]. By contrast this is something Coca-Cola has manage since 1886.)

With regard to the history of appellations in France, two villages of the Terrasses du Larzac AOC (Pégairolles-de-l’Escalette and Octon) overlaps with that of Roquefort, France’s oldest and the world’s first appellation (1925). Here the grazing of Lacaune, Manech, and Basco-Béarnaise for the production of Roquefort occurs alongside the growing of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre for Terrasses du Larzac wine.

Nearby: the Discovery of the Oldest Winery in France

Nearby La Peira, in 2007 – and still in the Clairette AOC mentioned above – France’s earliest know winery was discovered. [link: Decanter France’s earliest winery found 2 Jul 2007 – see also The oldest winery in FranceLa villa de Quintus Iulius Primus ]

George Souche Via Domitia La Peira Web

The Via Domitia as it passes through Southern France (photo credit Georges Souche)

Founded in 10 AD by Quintus Iulius Primus, it is established near ancient Roman road that ran along the Hérault river , and linked the Via Domitia  at Cessero (today’s St. Thibéry) to Luteva (Lodève) and Segodunum (Rodez)

This (as mentioned above) is part of a series of discoveries made since the last publication of Johnston’s book.

As can be seen the image (lower left hand corner) below from a report in 2009 by Stéphane Mauné (Director of research at CNRS) the Roman road that ran from Cessero (St Thibéry) to Segodunum (Rodez) through the Hérault valley and along the Hérault river, features a concentration of early wine growing (and other) settlements. 

This make sense as the Cessero/Segodunum road not only runs along a source of fresh water (the Hérault river), but linked also to the great commercial road of the Via Domitia which linked the vineyards to the great wine town of Beziers (then Baeterrae).

First mention of French wine in literature as being of significant merit

And so it may come no surprise to find that the very first mention of French wine in literature as being of significant merit is found in Pliny’s Natural History (AD 77–79) in which the white wines sold at Baeterrae / Beziers  nearby are cited as worthy of note (alongside the resinous reds of Vienne):

“When ye are passed once into Fraunce or Gaule, the wine of Beterræ is in chiefe request.”

[CHAP. VI. Pliny’s Natural History: Of kindly wines made of the best Grapes. Trans. PHILEMON HOLLAND 1601]

Map showing concentration of Gallo-Roman sites in the Hérault Valley  (S. Mauné 2009)

Map showing concentration of Gallo-Roman sites in the Hérault Valley (S. Mauné 2009)

So perhaps the real news is that this area of the oldest wine region in France, where wine growing began for that country over 2000 years ago, has finally a stand-alone connection to the appellation system of France, yet to celebrate its first century. 

As Andrew Jefford wrote of the estate in 2008:

“Languedoc varieties like those used in La Pèira seem to me to be what the stones long  for, and it is with them that wine from these old Roman roads can best rival wonderful but overadulated Bordeaux”

Let’s hope they all – stones, wines, roads, and vines – continue to flourish for some time yet.

“Southern France’s First Growth” – Andrew McMurray of Zachys on La Peira

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“Southern France’s ‘First Growth’” Andrew McMurray Vice President of Zachys Fine Wine Founded 1944 on La Pèira

“Southern France’s ‘First Growth'” – Andrew McMurray of Zachys on La Peira

We thought we’d post this complimentary piece written by Andrew McMurray, vice president of New York’s famous Zachys. Zachys has a fascinating history. Established in 1944, it was in 1961 that Don Zacharia took over, and since then it has seen the changing of drinking habits in the US towards wine, of California as an important wine-producing region, of the Bordeaux futures business, of the internet, of its wine-auction business (initially in partnership with Christie’s), and pretty much everything and anything in between. For a couple of fascinating articles, click here: The Wine Sellers by John Anderson [inc.com], or here: PUBLIC LIVES; A Full-Bodied Career in the Family Business in the New York Times by Joyce Wadler.

“Southern France’s ‘First Growth'” – La Pèira en Damaisèla’s Spectacular Reds

The “Final Frontier” of the wine world continues to amaze us. Southern France was once considered a producer only of value regional wine, but their sub-appellations are gaining cult followings unto themselves. Provence has Bandol. Roussillon has Corbieres. Now, thanks to producers like La Pèira, Languedoc has Terrasses du Larzac, which is quickly becoming a source of phenomenal (and increasingly rare) value and premium wine. Words don’t do it justice…but that won’t stop people from trying! The Wine Advocate’s David Schildknecht, never one to hold back his thoughts when he puts pen to paper, had only glowing things to say:

“…If it were not already abundantly clear, this is now one of the three or four most exciting not to mention meticulously-run properties in the Languedoc, and as such is broadcasting the message that this region’s soils and old vines harbor abundant latent grandeur whose awakening awaits only the right combination of inspiration, labor, and luck. I just hope aspiring vintners and winery owners – not to mention wine lovers – the world over are listening!” – David Schildknecht, August 2011

Using the traditional Languedoc-Roussillon varietals (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan), winemaker Jeremie Depierre crafts deep, brooding, mind-blowingly complex reds that show beautifully right out of the gate, and will continue to impress for years to come. The wines are consistently fantastic vintage-to-vintage, and you can see why we consider this a “First Growth” of Southern France!

Andrew McMurray – vice president of Zachys