Established by Olivier Jullien when he was just 20 years-old, Mas Jullien is composed of 15 hectares of vineyards scattered around the village of Jonquières, north of Montpellier, 40 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The vines grow on the rocky terraces of the plateau of Larzac at the foot of Mont Baudille, culminating at an altitude of 900 metres, at the limit of their cultivation of the vine in the area. Each of his parcels has its own character, arising from differences in altitude, exposition, wind, cool air currents, and proximity to the river. Soil types vary and include rocky limestone, schist, clay and alluvial deposits. These variables give each parcel its own distinctive personality.
Along with Tom Lubbe of Matassa and Gérard Gauby of Domaine Gauby, Thomas Teibert is one of the handful of dedicated (perhaps fanatic) vignerons committed to working the rugged terroir of Calce. The shallow topsoils here are generally no deeper than one foot, so the vines plunge almost immediately into the mother rock of brown and black slate, with occasional breaks into marl and gravel. Buffeted constantly by wind and chilled by its high altitude, Teibert’s vines yield wines of striking minerality and clarity. The cool climate here ensures brilliant acidity and wines that rarely exceed 13% ABV.
Ugo Lestelle is one of Roussillon’s young guns, a diverse and eclectic generation of vignerons who landed in the region looking for old vines, terroir largely untouched by conventional agriculture, and vineyard real estate that doesn’t demand the deep pockets of a corporate baron. Settling in Saint-Chinian in 2015, Lestelle started with just two hectares of gobelet-trained ancient Carignan vines. He’s since expanded to add more Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Aramon, and Terret, all old vines (typically 90-100+ years-old), all organically and biodynamically managed. The various sites are on clay-limestone-silicaceous terroir with very marginal organic component and set at 1500-2000 feet above sea level. Lestelle tills the vineyards by horse, and all his work in the cellar is minimal interventionist with only SO2 additions, and tiny ones at that.
Located northwest of Nîmes, Château Puech Redon is a large estate, with vines, field crops, and uncultivated forest and garrigues, 380 hectares in all. When Cyril Cuche took over the estate from his father, the property had been farmed conventionally for more than 30 years. Converting such a large area to organics was a huge challenge, but Cyril eventually had the vines farmed organically in 2008 and the cereal crops in 2010.
Since 2017, Cyril has been working with Eric Texier, our old friend from the Rhône, crafting beautiful natural wines grown from his best 16 hectares of vines, while renting out the other 30 hectares.
Mont Rocher is a collection of wines produced from indigenous varieties, produced in a style that lets them clearly express their varietal typicity and sense of place. Pure, authoritative packaging that lets the wines do the talking meets delicious, well-balanced wines that offer a taste of the real France.
Made by Pierre Renard whose family has been farming and making wine in the Southern French in the hills above Béziers for centuries. These wines honor Pierre’s father, who worked the family vines for 40 years before retiring.
Mas de Daumas Gassac was founded in 1970 by Véronique and Aimé Guibert, and at the time they didn’t necessarily intend on planting vines and making wine. They had bought the property simply because they were enchanted by the beautiful Gassac Valley in the Hérault départment and felt that it had potential. They just weren’t sure what that potential was.
But when their friend, Bordeaux University geologist Henri Enjalbert, visited the estate he had no doubt: the cool micro-climate and perfectly drained gravelly terroir could produce world-class wines, specifically Cabernet Sauvignon. And so it was that uncloned Cabernet cuttings were brought from châteaux in the Médoc and planted on Daumas Gassac’s north-facing slopes. A few years later, the first vintage was produced, with the help of the Guibert’s consulting winemaker, Émile Peynaud.
The land here was manually farmed for hundreds of years before the family settled in the valley, and the soil has never suffered from the destructive use of chemical fertilizers. From the founding of the estate to this day, the Guiberts have drawn on that ancient tradition, farming organically, harvesting by hand, and sparing no effort to respect nature and allow the free expression of the distinctive Gassac terroir.
It’s only through such hard work, dedication, and commitment to principles that Mas de Daumas Gassac could be described by Gault & Millau as “a Languedoc Château Lafite.”
Remains of a Roman winery have been found at the site of the Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, a testament to the ancient tradition of winegrowing at that location. The domaine, in its present form, was founded during the reign of Louis XIV by an officer returning from service on the Indian subcontinent. Situated just outside of the tiny village of Douzens a mere 12 kilometers east of the ancient walled city of Carcassonne, Faillenc Sainte Marie has recovered its past allure under the careful guidance of the energetic Gibert family and now produces an exciting range of red, white, and rose wines. Faillenc Sainte Marie is a small property, with only eight hectares of vineyards stubbornly clinging to the rocky foothills of Mont Alaric. The vineyards are buffeted by the northerwesterly Tramontane wind which blows over Alaric and by the southerly Autan breezes coming off the nearby Mediterranean, creating an extremely dry climate. Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Cinsault are the red grape varieties raised here. A small vineyard (1 hectare) is devoted to white grapes: Roussanne, Macabeu, Bourboulenc and Clairette. The terroir is composed of inhospitable, rocky limestone terraces. Only vines, olive trees and some scraggly brush survive under these harsh conditions. As a result, yields are naturally low. The grapes are strongly marked by their environment and this powerful character shows through in the wines.
Tom Lubbe is a New Zealander who grew up in South Africa who then ended up founding iconoclastic and influential Domaine Matassa in the Roussillon. After working in South African wineries, he landed in the Catalan village of Calce, interning at Domaine Gauby. After three years, Tom founded his own estate in the area, focusing on the traditional local varietals and some very old (60-120 year-old) vineyards. The emphasis is on Carignan, Grenache, Macabeu, and Grenache Gris. The terroir is mostly composed of schist and marl, with a small vineyard planted to granitic soil. Production and farming is all natural and biodynamic, and the vineyards are certified organic by Ecocert. The old vines and difficult terroir guarantee low yields and small production, with great emphasis on concentration and minerality.
Chateau Massiac has a long history that dates back to the Roman Empire when this area was colonized by the Romans using the nearby Mediterranean port of Narbonne as an access point. In the 17th Century, two brothers from Massiac in the Auvergne region traversed the area in service to the King of Spain and eventually settled at this spot situated almost precisely halfway between the clock towers of the villages of Azille and Rieux Minervois. During the French Revolution, the chateau was burned to the ground. Bernard Boudouresques and his family recently revived the domaine, planting vineyards and converting the estate to organic viticulture. Production from the estate is now certified organic.
Massiac Minervois Rouge
Massiac Minervois Rouge “Sentinelle de Massiac”
Massiac Viognier VdP
Massiac Sauvignon Blanc VdP
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