La Peira 2017 Vintage
“THE 2017 LA PÈIRA IS BRILLIANT. THIS ESTATE CONTINUES TO FASHION SOME OF
THE MOST IMPRESSIVE WINES IN THE LANGUEDOC.” JEB DUNNUCK
THE 2017 VINTAGE NOTES
“There has been more ballyhoo about this domaine than any other since Daumas Gassac”, writes Paul Strang of La Pèira in his recent book Languedoc Roussillon The Wines and the Wine Makers. Indeed, in the new 11th Edition of Wines behind The Label, La Pèira remains the only producer for its region to be awarded the rare super 5-star rating designation ✪✪✪✪✪. This super 5-star rating is restricted to the true classics, out-and-out world class. Not only La Pèira is the sole estate in the Languedoc to receive this rating, it is one of a mere three domaines in the entire south of France. For some context, stalwarts such as Grange des Pères and Mas de Daumas Gassac received five-stars (outstanding) and four-stars (high quality) respectivly, while standout domaines outside the Terrasses du Larzac include Chateau de la Negly, five-stars (★★★★★ outstanding) and Puech-Haut four-stars (★★★★☆ high quality).
2017 THE VINTAGE
The instinct at La Pèira since the beginning has been to drive a middle line between the excessively traditional and the ultramodern, between finesses and elegance on the one hand, and power and richness on the other. To search for a typicité that is not obscured by an approach that is overtly backward, nor denied by perhaps the even greater limitation of being overly modern. As Jancis Robinson say of La Pèira: “There is clearly real sensibility for the local terrain and varietal traditions”. Andrew Jefford states that La Pèira bottles “wines of striking depth and originality yet great truth to place, too”. Joe Czerwinski writes in his review of the La Pèira 2017 vintage: “As all of the grapes are handpicked, the team does an initial triage in the vineyards, followed by another sorting at the winery. That care shows in the finished wines, which manage to combine ample weight and concentration with a rare degree of elegance and length.”
As if to underline the quality point, since our last vintage report, our outstanding importer in Belgium (Young Charly) – importer of the wines of Gaja, Ornellaia, Chapoutier and owners of Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Château Fougueyrat – discovered in the process of organising a vertical tasting that La Pèira had outperformed almost all of Bordeaux’s five First Growths over the last decade. Looking at the reviews of the Wine Advocate over a ten-year period, La Pèira averaged just hehind Château Haut-Brion, yet ahead of each of the other four Premier Grand Cru Classé rated First Growths.This is a testament to the work of all the La Pèira team and in particular winemakers Jérémie Depierre (vintages 2004-2014) and Audrey Bonnet (2015 -2019). A great testament, too, to the outstanding vineyard terroirs of La Pèira’s lieux-dits: the Bois de Pauliau and Bellefeuille (Belle Fiolle). The reviews of the 2016 vintage (‘…a candidate for perfection’ – Jeb Dunnuck) and of the 2017 vintage (‘…the 2017 La Pèira is brilliant’ ) as detailed in this report continue to be excellent.
All this serves to emphasise one central point: that in a current wine universe where true excellence is priced stratospherically and often out of reach, La Pèira, we hope, delivers the world-class while remaining firmly within grasp.
I hope you find wines here that might find a place in your collection. And thank you for your support which has made this exploration possible.
Rob Dougan et l’équipe de La Pèira
As across France in general, 2017 was characterised by a harvest of reduced quantity and high quality. As Jancis Robinson reports, in the Midi, the “condition of the fruit at harvest was generally very good, so the most quality-conscious estates have the potential to produce excellent wines”. The Wine Scholar Guild vintage chart for the region (compiled by Andrew Jefford) gives the vintage a four out of five glass rating (‘Excellent’). In the Wine Advocate the vintage is designated as ‘Outstanding’ and with maturity characterised by the symbol ‘T’ (indicating still tannic, youthful, or slow to mature).
It was somewhat of a surprise that the spring frosts that severely affected the vineyards of Champagne, Bordeaux Burgundy, the Loire valley, Alsace, Jura…touched the Hérault and our wider region in 2017. This is not an area known for April frost. Fortunately the La Pèira vineyards were spared the effects. But a cooler April here, as in Bordeaux and Burgundy, affected budburst and the flowering. And a dry summer and low rainfall (again as with the 2017 vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy) saw small berries resulting in reduced yields.
Where the Hérault faired quite differently to other regions was the fair weather over the harvest period. This produced fine-quality wines but in small quantities. How small?
Decanter magazine reported wine production to be at “historic lows” for 2017. France’s agricultural statistics bureau estimates that it will fall short of the post-World War II record low set by the 1991 cropHere as in much of of France the year was characterised by an early picking season with grapes in good health and good maturity being harvested.
THE 2017 VINTAGE EN PRÉCIS
- Sufficient rain in the winter 2016 replenished soil water reserves
• Temperatures during winter not too cold so vines began their growing period early
• End of April temperatures fell and growth slowed restarting in May
• Frost touched some producers (unusually for Southern France).
• High temperatures dominated throughout June July August with the very little rain
• The 2017 harvest at La Pèira was a little earlier than usual but we had very good maturity.
• Yields were lower than 2016 due the somewhat dryer year and the flowering (coulure).
And the result?
- Aromatic suggestions of dark fruits, floral qualities,
spice (pepper), pencil lead
• Full-bodied reds that match richness, complexity and length with a high degree of purity of fruit, balance and elegance.
• Soft silky fine tannins
• A third very successful vintage under Audrey Bonnet-Koenig’s supervision (2015, 2016, 2017)
LA PÈIRA 2017 REVIEWS
LA PÈIRA 2017 The 2017 La Pèira is brilliant. This estate continues to fashion some of the most impressive wines in the Languedoc. Blockbuster notes of smoked black fruits, ground pepper, and graphite all give way to full-bodied red that has building tannins, stunning purity of fruit, and a fresh, balanced, elegant style that’s going to age gracefully. 95-97+/100 Jeb Dunnuck
LA PÈIRA 2017 I was shown a prospective blend for the 2017 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira, which comprises 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre. Still to fully absorb its oak, vanilla and cedar notes loom large against a backdrop of cola, plum and blueberries. Full-bodied and concentrated, it finishes long and dusty, with a fair bit of tannic clout.” 92-95/100 Wine Advocate
MATISSAT 2017 A wine to be sought out by the Mourvèdre lovers out there, the 2017 Matissat (100% Mourvèdre brought up in demi-muids) offers a terrific perfume of black raspberries, spiced meat, pepper, and earth that develops beautifully with time in the glass. As with all these 2017s, it’s slightly more elegant and streamlined than usual, yet it gains richness and depth with time in the glass. Medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, with silky tannins, it’s going to benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age and should keep for 15-20 years. 94-96+/100 Jeb Dunnuck
MATISSAT 2017 The most impressive wine I tasted during my visit to this exemplary estate was the 2017 Terrasses du Larzac Matissat, which was still in a single demi-muid. A blend of 70% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah and 10% Grenache, it displays knockout aromas of red raspberries and seductive vanilla. Full-bodied, lush and creamy, this looks to be even better than the impressive 2016. It’s a true Wow! wine, with tremendous richness, complexity and length. 95-97/100 Wine Advocate
LAS FLORS DE LA PÈIRA 2017
LAS FLORS DE LA PÈIRA 2017 More Grenache-based, the 2017 Las Flors de la Pèira offers a fresher, medium to full-bodied, more elegant style than usual. Perfumed notes of black raspberries, flowers, ground pepper, and spice all define the bouquet, and it too is beautifully balanced, has good acidity, and a balanced, lengthy, elegant profile that’s going to drink nicely right out of the gate. 93-95/100 Jeb Dunnuck
LAS FLORS DE LA PÈIRA 2017 The 2017 Terrasses du Larzac Las Flors de la Pèira is likely to be a blend of 30% each Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, plus 5% each Carignan and Cinsault. Still in barrel, it’s full-bodied but showcases beautifully delineated notes of spring flowers, mixed red and black fruit and a dusting of baking spices on the long, silky finish. 92-95/100 Wine Advocate
OBRIERS DE LA PÈIRA 2018
OBRIERS DE LA PÈIRA 2017 Tasted from tank, the 2018 Terrasses du Larzac Les Obriers de la Peira was showing lots of floral notes and red fruit. This medium to full-bodied blend of roughly 28% Mourvèdre, 27% Carignan, 25% Cinsault, 20% Syrah and “a drop” of Grenache is already silky, fine and fun to drink. 90-92 Joe Czerwinski Wine Advocate
LA PÈIRA WHITES
LA PÈIRA BLANC 2018 The tiny production of the 2018 La Pèira Blanc consists of three barrels: two of Roussanne and one of Viognier. Blended in those proportions, it’s not overly floral but instead delivers ripe apricot and pineapple notes. It’s full-bodied and creamy in texture, a rich white that retains a bit of citrus zest on the finish to provide lift and freshness. 91 – 93/100 Wine Advocate
DEUSYLS DE LA PÈIRA 2018 Tasted as a prospective blend drawn from barrel, the 2018 Deusyls de la Peira is a rich, creamy-textured blend of 40% Roussanne, 25% each Clairette and Grenache Blanc and 10% Marsanne. Fermentation starts in tank but finishes in barrel, with partial malolactic. Full-bodied and lush, I’d opt to drink it young for its plush pear and tangerine flavors, but it might evolve well beyond my conservative drinking window. 90 – 92/100 Wine Advocate