Thursday, December 22, 2011

Terrasses du Larzac: The Best Appellation You've Never Heard Of

It’s hard to sell people on wines from the Languedoc. For so long this area has been known for high-production, low-quality wines mostly made by cooperatives, and most discerning consumers have no interest in these creations. And with the exception of Mas de Daumas Gassac and a couple other luminary wineries the area has been devoid of quality winemakers and lacking any real attention from consumers. But things have changed recently, and the creation of the Terrasses du Larzac appellation is the confirmation of that change. I know it’s a funky name, but the Terrasses du Larzac appellation is probably making the best red wines you’ve never heard of.

The Terrasses du Larzac appellation, once simply known as a “terroir” within the massive and heterogeneous Coteaux du Languedoc appellation, was created in 2005 for red wines mostly made with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache - the holy trinity of red Rhône valley varietals. Like so many other favored appellations of the wine world, Terrasses du Larzac is blessed with several naturally positive climatic characteristics that make it exceptional. The appellation is at a relatively high altitude for the area, it’s well sheltered, and it enjoys proximity to the temperature-moderating influence of the sea. These factors often create a recipe for long growing seasons and balanced acidity that make for both intensity and length in the finished wines from the region.

Many wines from this area show the intensity and depth that can be matched by reds from other appellations of the wine world, but few other regions can pack such a level of refinement, persistence and refreshment into their wines. That's right, refreshment. For instance, Mas Jullien’s (http://www.madrose.com/masjullienprint.html) flagship Terrasses du Larzac bottling is an outrageous and delicious bargain vis-à-vis other flagship wines of the appellation. The counterpoint displayed between rich flavors of cassis and tart/savory flavors of cranberries and herbs is amazing. The intensity is all there, along with the refreshment that makes you long for another sip. Producers in the area like La Peira, Chateau de Jonquieres, Les Clos du Serres and many others are making inspired wines from the region, as well.

Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a bottle from the appellation sometime soon. By putting a glass of red from Terrasses du Larzac under your nose you’ll be discovering anew a great appellation that’s been under your nose the whole time...so to speak.

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