La Pèira: David Schildknecht’s Wine Advocate Reviews 2008-2009

by La Peira

La Pèira: David Schildknecht’s Wine Advocate Reviews 2008-2009-2010

Above: La Pèira and the Languedoc-Roussillon 2009 vintage © 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.

La Pèira 2009 tops the Languedoc-Roussillon

Amid the full flurry of harvest activity, last week’s publication of the Wine Advocate’s biennial Languedoc-Roussillon report saw the La Pèira 2009 ranked as the highest-rated wine of the two regions for the vintage.

The La Pèira 2010 even better?

The La Peira 2010s were not reviewed formally (still finishing the Malolactic that Spring), yet it looks positive:

La Pèira 2010  “The raw materials for the 2010 La Pèira were similarly – well, to clarify, actually quite distinctly – sensational”


Las Flors de la Pèira 2010  “One can already speak with confidence of a salty, meaty, impeccably fruity and deeply savory 2010 Las Flors”


Obriers de la Pèira 2010  “The 2010 base wine already smelled and tasted irresistible in April”


La Pèira 2007s – the Genie in the Bottle

2007 was superb vintage for the domaine, and the last in-bottle notes published, in Jeb Dunnuck’s The Rhone Report, had the wine as the top red of the Languedoc-Roussillion – alongside Gauby’s Muntada, and of the South of France, “Easily one of the top wines of the region (and I‟ll gladly include all of the southern Rhône in that comparison).”

The great Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non noted of it, “It has exactly what I cherish in a wine and what I strive for with my own wines”.

Jay McInerney writing in the Wall Street Journal about the wine, drew comparisons to legendary 100 point wines such as the 1989 La Mission Haut-Brion,  the 1990 Henri Bonneau Reserve des Célestins, and the (“out of this world” Antonio Galloni) 2004 Fattoria Galardi Terra di Lavoro.

The wine made an appearance in CellarTracker’s top-rated wines for 2010 between the Haut Brion 1989 and the Chateau Margaux 1990 – as the only wine of its region to feature.

From Gary Vaynerchuk’s rating of the 2005 (“The flagship wine from this new venture is easily going to be the next great global cult wine. Think Clos Erasmus or Masseto” 99/100) to Andrew Jefford‘s appreciation: “I try to avoid the kind of macho superlatives which can devalue the currency of wine criticism, but the efforts which the team at La Pèira have made with the 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintages really did ‘blow me away.” to Jancis Robinson’s rating of the 2006 (“Very fine and polished. Full of pleasure: sweet start and then a dry finish. I’d love to see this alongside other serious Syrahs”  17.5/20 ) or the 2007 (“sleek and refined and smells as though it may be a little austere and claret-like on the palate but in fact it is hugely seductive and rich and glamorous17.5/20 ) [for ref: Ausone 2006: JR 17 Ausone 2007 : JR 17++ ] or Rene Gabriel (“this spectacular South of France wine19/20 drink – 2020), this cuvee from our humble Bois de Pauliau vineyard has been well received to date.

The Wine Advocate – La Pèira 2007

Issue 183 of the Wine Advocate contained a ringing endorsement of the La Peira 2007:

“This wine will ring changes on your palate for a decade, I predict, and will enter that select – though rapidly expanding – elite of Languedoc wines that need not fear comparison with any of the world’s wine icons” (Wine Advocate Issue 183 La Peira reviews 2005-2007)


So we were keen to see the in bottle assessment of the La Pèira 2007s. In the end however there was no post-bottling re-review for now, simply the following observation:

“The superb La Pèira 2007s also surprised – again, vis-a-vis the Languedocian norm – by how well the sense of energy, delineation, and levity that they had conveyed in barrel was captured in bottle. Faced with performances consistent with my stellar issue 183 expectations, I have merely appended very brief comments on these magnificent bottled 2007s to my reviews” 

“What a great job the team here did of getting the 2007 La Pèira into bottle! Tasted alongside this 2008, it offers complex floral perfume, intense fruit, as well as animal and mineral dimensions of saliva-inducing, next-sip-craving savor – all shot through with an almost electrical sense of energy.” 

La Pèira 2008s : The Gathering Storm Vintage

As for the La Pèira 2008s, and the exciting and the unique characteristics of that vintage (our early enthusiasm shared in May of last year):  words and phrases such as  ‘somber‘, ‘a huge, dark cloud‘, and  ‘brooding‘ in the review’s profile of the wines brought to mind certain other historical aspects of the year 2008, of gathering storms, or one of Churchill’s Black Dog days. Overall for the region, as report details, 2008 was, “about as close as one comes to a “cool vintage” in these parts, and characterized by a long, even ripening period; noticeably lower-than-normal alcohol levels; and downright invigoratingly fresh fruit flavors.” It goes on: “Personally, I found the best 2008s not only deliciously distinctive in style and different from the long-term Languedoc norm, but quite thrilling in their own right.”

“The 2008 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira bears some resemblance to a top-notch Medoc in its ripe though restrained expression of black fruits…Somewhat somber overall for a wine from this estate and with a more palpable sense of structure and sheer density than most Languedoc reds of its vintage, , this nevertheless proceeds to finish with a surprising degree of sheer juiciness and energy as well as a nearly indelible impression of berry skin and mineral matter.” (on the La Pèira 2008)

“The finish here seems to brood, but what a huge, dark cloud it spreads across the palate! I have remarked before on the Pomerol-like aspects of this cuvee …but if one is to stick with that simile in this vintage, it could only be Lafleur rather than a Merlot-dominated Chateaux that one had in mind.” (on the Las Flors de la Pèira 2008)

It all sounds vaguely reminiscent of the global economic climate in 2008. And what better way of revisiting fond memories? Winter wines. We’re very proud of them, both in terms of quality and, equally important, as an expression of the vintage.

Concluding this image of the 2008 vintage at La Pèira as a sort of Goya Pinturas negras / Velázquez Las Meninas-toned/ post-79 Pierre Soulages-type of vintage is the following sentence:

“As to what further elements will emerge from this bottling’s dark recesses, I would count myself fortunate to discover.”

This relates to a wine we will release soon, five years in the making,  the 100% Mourvèdre Matissat – Andrew Jefford:  “look out for La Pèira’s alluring Matissat, luscious, meaty and essence-like, when it’s eventually released” – Decanter June 2011.  (PDF of Release details here)

But enough of that.

The Wine Advocate La Pèira 2008-2009 (and 2010) La Pèira notes follow.

(David Schildknecht’s Wine Advocate 2005-2007 La Pèira notes can be found here.)

From Regional Article

 “Wines of top Languedoc estates like Clos Marie, Mas Jullien, or La Pèira en Damaisèla and easily several others are as profoundly delicious as all but a handful of crus rendered anywhere in France

2009s

2009 La Pèira Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira (95-96)

I tasted on this occasion the 2009 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira – roughly two-thirds Syrah, one-third Grenache – in both its (pre-) assemblage and as individual components. Bursting with heady, lilac-like sweet floral perfume that could be traced to its Grenache, along with liqueur-like cassis and black raspberry, this expands thrillingly on a viscous, subtly creamy yet persistently vibrant, juicy, and buoyant palate, with fresh ginger, nutmeg, and licorice adding complex spice and a Syrah-induced savor akin to salted roasted meat pan drippings serving for an umami rating approaching three digits on a hundred-point scale. An attractively rich undertone of chocolate is apt to recede slightly once this acquires its modest pre-bottling dosage of sulfur. This dynamic show should be worth following for the better part of a decade. (The raw materials for the 2010 La Peira were similarly – well, to clarify, actually quite distinctly – sensational.) (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) La Pèira 2009 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

2009 Las Flors de la Pèira Terrasses du Larzac  (93-94)

The 2009 Terrasses du Larzac Las Flors de la Pèira – somewhat more than a third each Syrah and Grenache, with minority components of both Mourvedre and Cinsault – features lightly-cooked, sweetly ripe black and red raspberries aromatically shadowed by their distilled counterparts and wreathed in headily- and seductively-perfumed buddleia, peony, and heliotrope. Richly-textured and full, yet preserving a core of vibrant primary juiciness, this cuvee’s Mourvedre component offers subtle underlying beef blood and chocolate while a long finish preserves a remarkable sense of transparency to both the wines floral as well as its stone, peat, iodine and mouth-wateringly saline mineral elements. This multi-registered, dynamically complex cuvee should merit at least 6-8 years’ attention. (This year, the Syrah and Grenache that will make up roughly 85% of the eventual Las Flors blend were married even before malo, so one can already speak with confidence of a salty, meaty, impeccably fruity and deeply savory 2010 Las Flors.) (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) Las Flors de la Pèira 2009 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

2009 Obriers de la Pèira Terrasses du Larzac (90-91)

Tasted as a pre-assemblage (although I also tasted the individual components), La Pèira’s Cinsault-Carignan 2009 Obriers de la Pèira is initially smoky and nutty in a slightly reduced way, needing aeration to reveal more diverse and alluring scents of hibiscus, mulberry, and kirsch. Dark berries and beet root mingle with black tea and brown spices on a richly-textured yet infectiously juicy palate. Alkaline and wet stone suggestions underline a lingering finish. Some of the fine inner-mouth florality exhibited by this wine’s 2008 rendition was approached in the largest lot of the 2009 – which remained in upright wooden fermentor – but submerged in the blend, hopefully to eventually reappear. Expect this to reward for at least 3-4 years. (From the upright fermentor in which most of it was aged, the 2010 base wine already smelled and tasted irresistible in April, but it was to be blended with several small barrels of concentrated, minerally old vines Carignan, not all of which were through malo – although most of the cellar had completed that transformation.) (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) Obriers de la Pèira 2009 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

2008s

2008 La Pèira Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira (94)

From a blend close to that of its 2009 counterpart, the 2008 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira bears some resemblance to a top-notch Medoc in its ripe though restrained expression of black fruits allied to sealing wax and iodine, crushed stone and carob. Somewhat somber overall for a wine from this estate and with a more palpable sense of structure and sheer density than most Languedoc reds of its vintage, this nevertheless proceeds to finish with a surprising degree of sheer juiciness and energy as well as a nearly indelible impression of berry skin and mineral matter. It won’t seduce you in the manner of its 2009 counterpart, but it certainly commands your attention – indeed, the finish practically demands your submission! – and ought to do so for the better part of a decade, if not beyond. (What a great job the team here did of getting the 2007 La Pèira into bottle! Tasted alongside this 2008, it offers complex floral perfume, intense fruit, as well as animal and mineral dimensions of saliva-inducing, next-sip-craving savor – all shot through with an almost electrical sense of energy.) (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) La Pèira 2008 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

2008 Las Flors de la Pèira Terrasses du Larzac  (92)

Around one half Grenache, one third Syrah, and the rest Mourvedre, the 2008 Terrasses du Larzac Las Flors de la Pèira displays less charm let alone the seductive florality of its 2009 counterpart, but offers a compelling combination of palpable density, tension, and grip. Black pepper, licorice, iodine, salt, and iron filings mingle with ripe yet tart blackberry and cassis. The finish here seems to brood, but what a huge, dark cloud it spreads across the palate! I have remarked before on the Pomerol-like aspects of this cuvee – an observation that regisseur Jeremie Depierre seconded – but if one is to stick with that simile in this vintage, it could only be Lafleur rather than a Merlot-dominated Chateaux that one had in mind. I suspect this will need 2-3 years to significantly make good on its potential and ought to be worth following for 6-8. (Tasted alongside, the bottled 2007 displays greater density and more obvious tannin but no less complexity, vibrancy, or sheer sap and refreshment than I found when I reviewed it from barrel for issue 183.) (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) Las Flors de la Pèira 2008 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

2008  Obriers de la Pèira Terrasses du Larzac (90)

As is often the case with wines from Cinsault and Carignan, the 2008 Obriers de la Pèira displays a smoky aromatic overtone and nut husk bitterness attributable to reduction. The alkaline, stony elements that underlie this rendition of Les Obriers only tend to underscore its initial reticence. Aeration, though, reveals impressive depth of juicy, primary black fruit with the nuttiness emerging in a long finish in the form of delightfully piquant walnut oil and chard, while a mouthwateringly saline aspect adds to the wine’s impressive arsenal of mineral matter. This rather “serious” instantiation of its cuvee will I suspect be worth following for at least half a dozen years. That Les Obriers is La Pèira’s least expensive bottling must in large part be attributed to its reliance on two rather unfashionable grapes; but I am coming to believe that it is a mistake to suppose that this fine value cuvee will require drinking any sooner than do its more flamboyant, seductive, and expensive siblings. (The berry richness, nutty piquancy, and mineral complexity of the bottled 2007 on this occasion lived up to the highest expectations reflected in my issue 183 rating.) (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) Obriers de la Pèira 2008 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

Deusyls (White)

2010 La Pèira Deusyls de la Pèira (91-92)

While the 2010 Deusyls de la Pèira – a blend, as usual, of Viognier with minority Roussanne – was still set to spend a year in barrel when I tasted it, there was no question about its personality or its high quality. “Explosive” is the only word that can do justice to the effusion of honeysuckle, acacia, quince, pineapple, and mandarin on the nose and lush yet vibrant and buoyant palate of this beauty. It positively shimmers in finishing interaction of these fruits and flowers with salt, stone, and otherwise mineral matter. As this cuvee begins to acquire some track record, it becomes evident that we don’t yet know the full extent of its aging potential, but this instantiation ought to be worth following for at least 4-5 years. (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) Deusyls de la Pèira 2010 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

2009 La Pèira Deusyls de la Peira (90-91)

Honeysuckle, narcissus, heliotrope, pineapple, and overripe pear and Persian melon scent the Viognier-Roussanne 2009 Deusyls de la Pèira, which comes to the palate creamy; nutmeg- and vanilla-tinged; expansive but not heavy; with hints of salted nuts and chalk serving for some finishing counterpoint. This outstanding effort in the context of vintage (white wine) limitations (which I tasted immediately prior to bottling) will prove seductive in its youth, and I suspect will be best enjoyed over the next couple of years – however greater the stamina that other initial vintages of this cuvee may be revealing.(David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) Deusyls de la Pèira 2009 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

2008 La Pèira Deusyls de la Pèira  91

Talcum, honeysuckle, and heliotrope headily scent the 2008 Deusyls de la Pèira, with hints of caramel and lanolin still clinging to ripe, melony fruit from its oak exposure. Lush and persistently floral in the mouth, this beauty offers mouthwatering salinity, lingering perfume, and intriguing, elusive mineral traces. I suspect it will continue to seduce for at least another couple of years. (David Schildknecht Wine Advocate Aug 2011) Deusyls de la Pèira 2008 PDF Copyright 2011, The Wine Advocate, Inc.  Reprinted with permission

Wine Advocate Estate Notes 2008/2009/2010

(Full text broken into sections with headings)

Rob Dougan and his winemaker Jeremie Depierre demonstrated this April that La Pèira en Damaisèla – for much more about which, consult the account in my issue 183 Languedoc report – is not about to rest on its early and entirely merited laurels.

In addition to exciting 2010 raw materials (on which I have appended parenthetic comments to my notes on the 2009s) and superlative 2009 and 2008 renditions of the same four cuvees I tasted from each of their first three vintages (and reported on in issue 183), they surprised me with three installments of a pure batch of Mourvedre that they had been holding back.

Vintage 2009

“We thought given such hot weather in 2009, and after we had tasted right after fermentation, that our wines might be heavy,” relates Depierre. “But after the winter – when the malo-lactic was finally getting done – the elegance started to come out. And after we did the blends, we were surprised to discover so much fruit and freshness.”

For 2009, the blend for Las Flors, exceptionally, included some Cinsault to help insure the preservation of precisely these virtues.

Vintage 2008

The La Pèira 2008s were able to benefit from September rain that jump-started the late ripening of Syrah and Mourvedre, while moderate temperatures throughout the season served for balanced acidity and alcohol, although today – in something of a reversal of these vintages’ usual roles – the 2009s at this address are showing more florality, charm, and elegance than their 2008 counterparts.

If the relative personalities of 2009 and 2008 here surprised me a bit given what I witnessed at most Languedoc estates, the superb La Pèira 2007s also surprised – again, vis-a-vis the Languedocian norm – by how well the sense of energy, delineation, and levity that they had conveyed in barrel was captured in bottle.

Faced with performances consistent with my stellar issue 183 expectations, I have merely appended very brief comments on these magnificent bottled 2007s to my reviews of the corresponding 2008s, rather than taking up space by recording a completely new tasting note.

La Pèira  Deusyls (White)

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.

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 Wine Advocate Aug 2011 Issue #196)