LANGUEDOC AND CORBIERES ….
A huge variety of terroirs exist within the Languedoc’s vastness, and one particularly great one is having its moment: the Terrasses du Larzac, a zone just north of Montpellier and inland from the Mediterranean. The number of wine-producing domaines there has ballooned from 30 to 110 over the past decade, as ambitious young folks have acquired still-reasonably-priced land and begun projects. Though the movement has yet to gain huge momentum internationally, the press and the wine culture in France have lauded the wines extensively, and the wines are now ubiquitous on serious wines lists throughout France. Our two sources there—the pioneering Olivier Jullien of Mas Jullien, and the now-long-established Vincent and Isabelle Goumard of Mas Cal Demoura, next-door neighbors in the prime central village of Jonquieres—are regarded as two of the premier growers in the appellation, leaders who unlocked the potential of this unique terroir many years ago and have mentored numerous up-and-coming vignerons along the way.
The roses we receive from them are uniformly exceptional, displaying both strong individual character and vision while reflecting the particular suitability of the Terrasses du Larzac’s cool, high-altitude microclimate for producing roses of freshness and complexity. 2017’s rash of spring frost followed by a hot, dry summer impacted the Terrasses du Larzac, with Olivier and Vincent reporting global losses of 25-30%. These conditions resulted in an early, slightly compressed harvest period. Still, the rosés emerged exceptionally complex and refined this year, and we are thrilled with their quality.
In addition to the rosés we purchase in the Languedoc from Mas Jullien and Mas Cal Demoura, another constant source of scintillating Rosé from the region is the Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie—our long-standing grower in the rugged, windswept appellation of Corbieres. Here, in the village of Douzens, the Gibert family produces a charming, idiosyncratically delicious rosé of pure Syrah that has drawn a loyal following over the years.
MAS JULLIEN [Terrasses du Larzac]
The restless genius of Jonquieres and one of the pioneers of the Languedoc’s revitalization back in the mid-1980s, Olivier Jullien produces among our most serious and uncompromising roses. Always made from pure saignée juice (it is difficult to imagine Olivier harvesting something at less than optimal ripeness just to conform to a style!), the 2017 Coteaux du Languedoc Rosé nonetheless carries its vinous intensity on a slightly sleeker and more chiseled frame than it usually does. Equal parts Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault, it is limpid and pale in the glass but strikingly vibrant. A big, spicy, floral nose leads into a palate of firm, resinous grip, finishing long and tight-grained with a lingering impression of salty yellow fruit with more grip than most wines of this genre.
MAS CAL DEMOURA [Terrasses du Larzac]
Whereas a lot of rosé seems to mimic white wine in its profile, Vincent Goumard remarked that he seeks to achieve the precise equal point between a white and a red wine. As such, he includes one-third saignée juice with the direct press, and this 2017 Coteaux du Languedoc Rosé is the finest he has yet produced, bullseye-ing that elusive midpoint. Grenache and Cinsault comprise 80% of the blend, with Syrah and a dash of Carignan rounding it out. It pulls off the feat of being both filigree and substantial, with a sort of zoom-lens complexity that is rare in rosé. Its detailed and pure nose of papaya, strawberry, and sage lacks any sense of confected fruitiness and the palate is concentrated yet elegant. Vincent suggests that sashimi would be an ideal pair with the 2017 rosé, and we can easily imagine that being heavenly, as this is certainly a wine whose subtle complexity is an equal for such pure and precise cuisine.
FAILLENC SAINTE MARIE [Corbieres]
The idiosyncratic, utterly pretension-less wines from the Gibert family mirror their wild, rugged terrain of origin with vivid intensity. The pure-Syrah 2017 Corbieres Rosé, made entirely via saignée juice, makes no effort to be pale, delicate, or politely sip-able. That is not to imply that the wine is unwieldy, but it has a succulence, depth, and power that feels more like a light red than a modern-day commercial rosé. The color itself suggests a pale red wine—a light rouge hue with a gentle glow—and the aromas carry varietally honest notes of licorice and black cherry. The bold, spice-driven palate is thickly textured and vinous, yet scrumptious and drinkable at the same time.