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
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”.
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 France & La villa de Quintus Iulius Primus ]
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]
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
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 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
“Easily one of the top estates in all of France”: Wine Advocate Reviews from Jeb Dunnuck of La Peira Vintages 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013
This May saw Jeb Dunnuck of the Wine Advocate publish a great swathe of notes on various La Pèira vintages. Following on from his positive reviews of last year, Jeb writes of La Pèira: “Easily one of the top estates in all of France” . Excerpts from the reviews are listed below in the following order: La Pèira’s grand vin (or flagship wine), the estate’s second label (Las Flors de la Pèira), and then the domaine’s third wine (Obriers de la Pèira). There follow after this reviews of the La Pèira’s white wine (Deusyls de la Pèira) and 100% Mourvèdre cuvee (Matissat).
La Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013
La Pèira 2010 97/100
“Cassis, toast, crushed rocks, melted licorice and roasted herb aromas and flavors all emerge from this beauty, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness and depth, brilliant purity of fruit and masses of underlying structure…seamless texture and impeccable balance” – 97/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate #212, Apr 2014
La Pèira 2011 96/100
“Reminding me of the smoking good 2009, the 2011 Terrasses du Larzac La Pèira has fabulous richness and depth, with exuberant kirsch, cassis, dried earth, ground herbs and licorice-styled aromas and flavors” – 96/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate #212, Apr 2014
La Pèira 2012 94-96/100
“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” – 94-96/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
La Pèira 2013 95-97/100
“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” – 95-97/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Las Flors de la Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013
– Las Flors de la Pèira is the domaine’s second wine –
Las Flors de la Pèira 2010 94/100
“Full-bodied, seamless and silkily textured, with beautiful mid-palate depth and integrated acidity” – 94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Las Flors de la Pèira 2011 93/100
“Kirsch, graphite, licorice, spice box and cured meats are just some of the nuances here, and it hits the palate with medium to fullbodied richness and depths” – 93/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Las Flors de la Pèira 2012 90-93/100
“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” – 90-93/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Las Flors de la Pèira 2013 91-94/100
“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” 91-94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Obriers de la Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013
– Obriers de la Pèira is the domaine’s third wine –
Obriers de la Pèira 2010 91/100
“Ample black cherry, mineral, pepper and wild herbs to go with a medium-bodied, layered and yet elegant overall profile Aging beautifully and still youthful” – 91/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Obriers de la Pèira 2011 92/100
“Medium-bodied, layered and textured on the palate, with a terrific finish” – 92/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Obriers de la Pèira 2012 90/100
“Incredibly floral and perfumed, with sweet blackberry, violets, lilacs and exotic spices, this medium-bodied, elegant and silky effort builds on the palate, shows notable freshness and a pure, hard-to-resist feel.” – 90/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
Obriers de la Pèira 2013 90-92/100
“Perfumed and complex, with plenty of sweet kirsch, exotic pepper, spices and leather-styled aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, lightly textured and elegant, with a seamless profile, it should easily be an outstanding example of this cuvee” – 90-92/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate
The White: Deusyls de la Pèira reviews 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013
Deusyls de la Pèira 2010 92/100 “Offers a more honeyed character, with ample spice, honeycomb, toasted nuts, white fruits and floral aromas and flavors. Elegant, seamless and full-flavored on the palate, with plenty of class” – 92/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]
Deusyls de la Pèira 2011 94/100 “Thrilling aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, white flowers, crushed rock-like minerality and hints of mint to go with a medium to full-bodied, layered, rich, yet beautifully lively and pure profile on the palate.” 94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]
Deusyls de la Pèira 2012 94/100 “Medium-bodied, pure, layered and elegant, with fabulous citrus blossom, white flowers, vanilla, creme and assorted toasty nuances” 94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]
Deusyls de la Pèira 2013 92-94/100 “Gorgeous apple, citrus blossom and ample minerality in its medium-bodied, fresh and pure profile, it has both freshness and richness, with beautiful length.” 92-94/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]
Matissat ( La Peira’s pure Mourvèdre)
Matissat 2010 96+/100
“Darker and more savory… with copious blackcurrant, kirsch, graphite, dusty soil and spicy meat characteristics. It is full-bodied, broad and gorgeously textured, with rock solid concentration and length. Give it another 2–3 years and enjoy it over the following 12–15 years.” – 96+/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]
Matissat 2011 95/100
“With massive kirsch, licorice, spiced meats and graphite aromas and flavors, this hits the palate with a massive core of fruit, fullbodied concentration and depth, and a rock star finish. Approachable now given its exuberant personality, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it still drinking beautifully at age 20.” – 95/100 Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate [bottle image | full review | wine searcher]
For PDF of excepted Wine Advocate/Jeb Dunnuck reviews of the La Pèira vintages 2010, 2011, 2012, & 2013 click image above
‘Especiariá de la Pèira’ store: The La Pèira En Primeur Offer for the 2013 vintage (and other things)
A little while ago we started a small place were we could publish details of forthcoming La Pèira En Primeur offers, and offer a few items otherwise unavailable elsewhere.
We named it Especiariá de la Pèira. Especiariá is the occitan word for épicerie. Occitan, of course, is the traditional language spoken in the Terrasses du Larzac when we work. You can view it by clicking PURCHASE LA PÈIRA above. It was just in French, and for France only (and still is).
We’ll shortly be providing this in English. If you’re interested and want us to drop you a line when it launches, feel free to enter an email below (and anything else you might wish) and we’ll you let you know when it launches.
Note: Current vintages of the wines of La Pèira cannot be acquired there (for those see wine-searcher for stockists).
Please let me know about this and the La Pèira En Primeur Offer 2013 thank You
En Primeur Offer 2013
In advance of the much-awaited Wine Advocate reviews for the Languedoc-Roussillon, Jeb Dunnuck has recorded a video review for www.erobertparker.com looking at the La Pèira wine from the 2011 vintage (click above for link – subscription required).
The wines tasted:
2012 Deusyls de la Pèira Blanc
2011 Las Flors de la Pèira
2011 La Pèira
Jeb (previously of The Rhone Report) covers the wines of the Rhône Valley (North and South), Southern France, Washington, and Central & Southern California.
He takes over the Rhone Valley, and Central & Southern California from Robert Parker, and Southern France from David Schildknecht (whose past Wine Advocate La Pèira reviews can be found here (2008-2009) and here (2005-2007).
The forthcoming Southern France report features 258 Producers, and 854 wines, along with a Languedoc and Roussillon 101 section with descriptions of the AOCs and top producers from each.
So great for those wanting to familiarise themselves with the wheres and whats of these different growing regions.
Jeb’s past La Pèira reviews (for The Rhone Report) can be seen here.
La Peira’s Matissat named the Best Red Wine of France in the Lafont Presse ‘Classement des Meilleurs Vins de France’ 2014
“A legend in the making”
The 2014 edition of the Lafont Presse ‘Classement de Meilleurs Vins de France’ has named La Pèira’s Matissat cuvee best red wine for all of France.
The wine – a pure Mourvèdre – is dubbed “a legend in the making” and garners a perfect (100/100) score.
It featured alongside a field of many of France’s finest producers such as Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse (Pauillac), Château Montrose (Saint-Estèphe), Château Léoville-Barton (Saint-Julien), Château Pape-Clément (Pessac-Léognan), Château de Beaucastel (Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Auguste Clape (Cornas), Guigal (La Landonne – Côte-Rôtie), and Chapoutier (Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape).
Other inclusions from the Languedoc-Roussilion:
Domaine de la Grange des Peres (N° 15), Domaine Peyre Rose (N° 30), Mas Jullien (N° 34), Domaine Gauby’s Muntada (N° 54 ), and Mas de Daumas Gassac (blanc N° 34 ).
Writing on the La Pèira wines, Bertrand Rougier (editor of the Guide Lafont) states:
“In just a few years, La Pèira has established itself as one of the most groundbreaking properties of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Created in 2004, the property now ranks alongside – and in some eyes even above – the best of the best in Bordeaux and Burgundy.”
Guide Lafont Vins de France La Pèira notes
La Pèira 2010 (98/100)
“When the last hint of flavour finally disappears, you can’t help but feel a hint of regret – such are the monumental proportions of this wine.” (excerpt-link)
Las Flors de la Pèira 2010 (94/100)
“A dangerously delicious wine.” (excerpt – link)
Obriers de la Pèira 2011 (90/100)
“This wine is a delight from the first … a most affable and engaging wine.” (excerpt-link)
Matissat 2010 (100/100)
“A legend in the making!” (excerpt-link)
by Bertrand Rougier (translation by Florence Brutton)
Les Terrasses du Paradis
To taste the wines of La Pèira en Damaisèla is to take a bold step into another world – a better world that unfolds with every sip, extending far beyond the confines of the Terrasses du Larzac appellation. The estate is owned by author-composer, Rob Dougan and barrister, Karine Ahton, ably assisted by young Château Margaux-trained winemaker, Jérémie Depierre. All three can congratulate themselves on a rare achievement of truly monumental proportions!
In just a few years, La Pèira en Damaisèla has established itself as one of the most groundbreaking properties of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Created in 2004, the property now ranks alongside – and in some eyes even above – the best of the best in Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Its name comes from an Occitan stonemason’s adage, Plaçar una pèira en damaisèla, which means ‘place the stone with its best face forward’. At first glance, it’s hard to see how anyone could improve on what was there already: 11 hectares of stony but not meagre soils, in a sunny but breezy location that enjoys a combination of Continental and Mediterranean climate, bordered on one side by the Mas de Daumas Gassac and on the other by La Grange des Pères and the woods of Pauliau [Bois de Pauliau]. Predictably, the yield is very small: less than 9hl/ha for the Grenache and Syrah that make up the La Pèira cuvee. The vines are short-pruned and constantly tended. Desuckering, leaf removal, thinning, green harvesting – work in the vineyard never stops. No-one knows this better than Jérémie Depierre, the man who has turned this naturally well-endowed land into something truly marvelous.
Harvesting is of course entirely manual. The grapes are placed in small crates then taken to the winery in air-conditioned vehicles for double-sorting and de-stemming. Barrel maturation is gloriously unhurried (the La Péira, for instance, ages on fine lees in new barrels for 18 to 24 months) and there is no fining or filtration whatsoever. It is no accident that these wines taste more like the purest nectar than grape juice.
That said, neither the talents and ambitions of the owners nor the quality of the terroir are quite enough to explain the miracle that takes place in every bottle. We can only conclude that these wines must be touched by magic. How else to describe that feeling of almost beatific pleasure that they arouse in the people who taste them – a feeling most of us can remember from childhood but never experience in adult life.
(full publication with all articles/classement can be purchased/viewed here: Lafont Presse ‘Classement de Meilleurs Vins de France 2014′ )
All Matissat review can be seen here: Matissat reviews.
Andrew Jefford profiles Rob Dougan in Gourmet Traveller
In an article for Gourmet Traveller (almost 10 years to the day after being last interviewed in the The Guardian newspaper), Andrew Jefford (one of the world’s finest wine writers) tracks down Rob Dougan in the inland hills of the South of France and looks at the work at La Pèira.
Claiming, “The unusual thing about Rob Dougan is that he doesn’t think like most Languedoc domaine owners. He is madder or more innocent”, he goes on to look at the La Pèira wines.
Here it is just possible, “that high-quality wine was made hereabouts in Roman times. This is not a typically rocky, austere Languedoc hill site; the deep, filtering gravels are more sumptuous and Bordeaux-like.”
Of his subject, he states he is, “enigmatic and thin-skinned; self-demeaning and understated but fiercely proud”.
For all this, he concludes, La Pèira has produced, “great wines, the kind of wines that can jolt consumers’ perceptions of the Languedoc and can rival the best from Bordeaux, and the Rhône. Maybe, given time, they might even right a historical wrong.”
Part of Andrew Jefford’s article in the Oct/Nov edition of Gourmet Traveller can be found excerpted here (or by clicking on the image above).
Andrew Jefford is the author of The New France (a seminal work on the wines of France) and Peat Smoke and Spirit: A Portrait of Islay (on Islay and its Whiskies) amongst many other publications, and writes for Decanter, The World of Fine Wine, and The Financial Times (FT). His website can be found here.
The Gourmet traveller website can be found here.
La Pèira in The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson
In a week that saw La Pèira kindly categorised as, “Southern France’s First Growth” by Andrew McMurray, vice president of New York’s famous Zachys, we were delighted to see La Pèira appear in the 7th Edition of The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, for the first time published as an Ibook on Itunes as well as in hardback.
The article on the region speaks of producers such as La Pèira who have:
“confirmed the high potential of the relatively cool, windy hills north of Clermont” [the Terrasses du Larzac].
Fields, Morris & Verdin Grand Portfolio Tasting
The Sine Qua Non of the Languedoc
An extraordinary reaction to the La Pèira wines yesterday at the brilliantly organised Fields, Morris & Verdin Grand Portfolio 2013 tasting at Church House in Westminster. Now incorporating the portfolios of Richards Walford and Mistral Wines, the tasting saw a staggering 100 or so producers flying in from all points of the globe. The quote above is from William Gossip and the team at the excellent Richard Dawes Fine Wines, with whom we had the good fortune to show the lastest vintages to and who kindly wrote about the wines: link here