This wine is a gorgeous, fresh, vibrant, dark and round red that will make you wonder how you can get more wines from Larzac... It's not a massively aromatic wine showing some restrained blackberry and cherry fruit, but the palate is gorgeously soft and bright, with no shortage at all of flavour concentration. Subtle spice and hints of licorice nuance the black fruit core, that is broad and mouth-coating.
Hand-picked grapes, with traditional wine-making, malolactic fermentation in barriques and aging in large wooden futs, it is all the more startling that the wine is as fresh and vibrant as it is - a sure testament to the excellent sourcing that Aubert and Mathieu have in their grapes. Limestone and clayey soils at considerable altitude, these are vines that will give excellent fruit for their future vintages, without any doubt at all.
The Terrasses du Larzac appellation is the highest in the Languedoc region and is one of the youngest, being formally decreed in 2005.
It's not a very large area, but it is large enough to encompass some of the most exciting regions and towns in the Languedoc, including Montpeyroux and St Saturnin, as well as all of the area in which the legendary Mas de Daumas Gassac is based.
Good address, so. The appellation is only reserved for red wines and is also made from only Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, with some small room allowed for Carignan and Cinsault: truth is, though, that there aren't nearly as many Cinsault or Carignan vines as there are for the other Big Three, which really means that the appellation reflects or codifies what was already best practice.
What's interesting with Aubert et Mathieu's project is that they have access to these areas and still focus on freshness and vitality in this wine.
Though your eyes may roll at the concept for two friends who want to "break the rules of the vineyard" you have to remember context: many winemakers in Europe are completely confined by often arbitrary regulations of local, vested interests. Look again, then and judge on quality. In other words, we think it's all well and good to aspire to break the rules but only if you can show us that what you've done without them is worth the noise.
This is very much the case here. These are vibrant, engaging and generous wines that are made not to shock, but to enjoy. Stylistically very much from the South, they take best sites and appellations in Roussillon and Languedoc and seek to create an identity of their own around these villages whose own reputations are rapidly growing.
The wines certainly benefit from the warmth, terroir and indigenous varieties (mostly...) that are so much part of the South of France experience, making these wines point us in a new direction: they bring you a little down the road and say "this is where we should be going", rather than forcing you to go there. All good for us.
The other side to their project is their principled stance around the ecological impact of the wine industry - they boarder a position that is perilously close to being tiresome in their determination to be part of saving the planet. Organic; Carbon-neutral; eco-friendly locally-sourced recycled lighter-weight glass bottles; biodiversity in planting hundreds of trees and building beehives... and a large part of our reaction has been that this is excellent, and we are really glad to support that sort of a business, SO LONG AS the wines are good! And, again, they really are.
This, then, is good; it's very, very good. Mad labels? We don't mind - if it catches the attention of new drinkers and pays homage to a local historic artist at the same time, it's no bad thing... just check that the wines are worth it... not to sound like a stuck record or anything, it's just that it really is important...!
Jancis is a fan, too.
Grape(s): Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache
Style: Vibrant, Svelte, Powerful, Organic, Intense, Full, Fruity, Fresh, Complex, Broad
Best food matches: Tapas, Steak, Roasts, Red Meats, Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Grills, Game