La Negly, le blog

Les vins du Languedoc par Jeb Dunnuck

09 Mai, 2017 12:00 PM
Catégorie : Blog
Les vins du Languedoc par Jeb Dunnuck

Nous vous proposons de découvrir l'article réalisé par Jeb Dunnuck pour The Wine Advocate.(28th Apr 2017)

Pour Jeb Dunnuck, le Languedoc continue d'être une source incroyable de vins de haute qualité. Avec 23 Appellations d'Origine Contrôlées (AOC) et 22 Indications Géographiques Protégées (IGP) dans le Languedoc. Le Languedoc La Clape AOC est incontestablement l'une des plus belle région !


Vintage Wines RP

  • 2016 Clos des Truffiers Languedoc Clos des Truffières - (98 - 100)
  • 2016 Château de la Negly Coteaux du Languedoc la Porte du Ciel - (96 - 100)
  • 2015 Clos des Truffiers Languedoc Clos des Truffières - (96 - 99)
  • 2015 Château de la Negly Clape la Porte du Ciel - (96 - 99)
  • 2016 La Peira Terrasses du Larzac Matissat - (95 - 98) View All Wines

The Languedoc is a diamond in the rough and continues to be an incredible source of high-quality wines, as well as terrific values. However, due to its size, complexity and diversity (in quality and style), it is a region where the consumer needs to be informed. In large tastings, I continue to find too many wines with excessive rusticity, dilute characters, overt volatile acidity or dirty characteristics due to less than ideal cellar conditions. Nevertheless, with just a little bit of direction, it’s possible to find singular, high-quality (in some places, world-class) wines loaded with character. And generally, at much lower prices compared to other regions!

The Wines: What You Need to Know

This report focuses primarily on the 2014 and 2015 vintages, both of which have plenty to like.

The 2014s are generally charming, forward and easy-drinking wines ideal for enjoying over the coming 4-5 years. I reviewed most 2014s from barrel last year, and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and consistency from bottle this year. While these lack the depth and richness found in the top 2015s, they shine for their elegance and charm, and they’re already approachable.

The 2015s, most of which I tasted from barrel, are deeper and richer wines that show what this region is capable of in a great year. These are concentrated, rich and textured wines that show purity and freshness to go with ripe tannin profiles. The clear majority of the top wines are going to benefit from a year or so in bottle and be long-lived. The 2015 vintage is clearly the strongest vintage for the Languedoc going back to 2010.

Most of these wines were tasted in January 2017, both in larger, appellation-focused tastings, as well as at domaine visits. I followed up these tasting with numerous tastings at my office in Colorado, as well as with multiple importers.

Hard at work.


Recent Vintages

2014: The 2014 vintage was difficult for most of the Languedoc and the region suffered through an incredibly dry winter and spring, followed by catastrophic hail in the summer. Storms in July and then heavy rain in September (8th, 17th and 29thfor the Hérault region) further complicated the vintage. Nevertheless, I found numerous elegant, balanced and unquestionably delicious wines from throughout the region. I think the saving grace was the tiny yields, as well as the ever-growing number of quality-driven vignerons who busted their butts in the vineyards and made strict selections during harvest and on the sorting tables.

2015: The 2015 vintage in comparison is a universally great vintage across the region and is certainly one of the finest in the past decade. This was a hot, dry and early year that benefited from the wet winter in 2014, which saturated the water table. Flowering went off without a hitch and was followed by a long and hot, yet even summer. The region escaped the heat spikes of 2003, had no storms or real precipitation of which to speak, and the replenished water table kept all but the youngest vines healthy. There were sporadic storms early in September, but an Indian summer from mid-September to October allowed a relaxed harvest.

2016: While I wasn’t able to taste many wines from this vintage, the 2016s are going to be interesting. This was another hot and dry year that stressed even the oldest vines of the region, with several winemakers speaking about the vines shutting down (this is when the vines stop ripening grapes due to excessive heat and stress), forcing harvest to occur incredibly late. However, I tasted some seriously rich and concentrated wines that have me optimistic for the vintage. Chateau de la Negly’s 2016 Clos du Truffières appears to be a legend in the making. I suspect quality will be far from consistent, but with some true gems in the mix.

Readers can find additional thoughts on recent vintages in last year’s France, Languedoc: New Releases from France’s Best Kept Secret report.

Drink Windows

I was purposefully conservative with my drink windows, as I like plenty of fruit in my wines. In addition, I find that cuvées with large percentages of Carignan develop a certain rusticity with age (they do benefit from short-term cellaring to let the tannins soften, however). If you like more savory, spicy and leathery characteristics in your wines, feel free to push out my drink window recommendations.

The Region

There are 23 Appellation d'Origine Contrôlées (AOCs) and 22 Indications Geographiques Protegees (IGP) in the Languedoc, so it can be a daunting task to wrap you head around this massive region. I’ve listed what I think are the key regions to know below.

The Languedoc

Languedoc: This is the umbrella AOC spanning the three French departments of the Garde, Hérault and Aude (as well as a little of the Pyrenees-Orientales, which encompasses the Roussillon). Renamed from AOC Coteaux du Languedoc to AOC Languedoc in 2007, it spans from the western edge of the southern Rhône Valley to the northern edge of the Roussillon, covering over 10,000 square miles. While Grenache is the prime grape of the southern Rhône, as you move into the Languedoc, you see a much higher percentage of Syrah, as well as old vine Carignan. Given the size of the region, it’s impossible to generalize about the wines bottled under the Languedoc AOC.

Pic Saint Loup: The northern Rhône of the Languedoc, Pic Saint Loup lies just north of Montpellier and is the gateway into the Languedoc from the Rhône Valley. The region is dominated by the picturesque peaks of the Pic Saint Loup and the smaller Falaise de l’Hortus, which lies just across from it. This is limestone territory and the climate is slightly cooler due to its northern location and the peaks in the appellation. This gives the Syrah a more northern Rhône-like, fresh and crisp profile that’s distinctly different from the more Mediterranean-driven expressions found as you move further into the Languedoc. Close by, you have the regions of Sommières and Saint-Drézéry. Top producers included in this report include Puech-Haut (which is based in Saint- Drézéry), Domaine de l’Hortus, Chateau de Lascaux, Chateau la Roque, Domaine de Lancyre and Tour de Gardiès.

Terrasses du Larzac: One of the gems of the Languedoc is the Terrasses du Larzac, which was created in 2005. A larger AOC that spans 23 villages, it lies on the northern edge of the Languedoc, on the Larzac plateau (this region is also known for their Roquefort cheese) and consists of a variety of terroirs: limestone, rolled pebbles and iron-oxide volcanic soils (mostly located around the village of Aniane). This AOC only produces red wines. Due to its proximity to the massif central—which floods the region with cool air at night—these big, rich and concentrated wines maintain beautiful freshness and acidity. The top estate here is unquestionably that of Rob Dougan’s La Pèira en Damaisèla, but other notables include Plan de l’Homme, Clos du Serres, Montcalmes, Mas Cal Demoura and Domaine de la Reserve d’O. The regions of Montpeyroux and Saint-Saturnin are located just to the east the Terrasses du Larzac.

Pézenas: One of my favorite regions is the limestone, schist and volcanic soils located around the gorgeous village of Pézenas. This is a young AOC that wasn’t created until 2007. It's located to the west of Montpellier, south of the Terrasses du Larzac region, and the climate here is warmer and more Mediterranean in style, with hot days and moderate/warm nights. They only produce red wines and Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre are the key grape varieties. I always find a spiciness in these wines, as well as beautiful voluptuousness and texture on the palate. They’re rarely the most structured wines in a vintage, yet they shine for their nuance, silky textures, charm and incredible drinkability. It’s worth noting that the vineyard for Negly’s Clos du Truffières comes from this incredibly promising region.

Faugères: This small, schist-dominated AOC lies to the northwest of Pézenas and spans seven villages. The vineyards are at higher elevations (upwards of 450 meters) up against the massif central, and while it’s dominated by schists soils, there’s a varying array of grey, blue, orange and yellow schist terroirs spread throughout the appellation. The region produces red and white wines (no Rosés), with plenty of old vine Carignan planted, as well as newer plantings of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The wines from Faugères run the gamut of perfumed and silky wines to more full-bodied, concentrated and structured efforts—depending on the estate. The common thread would be a silkiness to the tannin, which vignerons contribute to the schists soils. I also find more structure in the wines of Faugères compared to those from Pézenas and Saint-Chinian. This region is packed with great producers including Léon Barral, Mas Gabinele, Domaine la Sarabande and Domaine de Cébène.

The schist soils of Saint-Chinian.
Saint-Chinian: Created in 1982, Saint-Chinian is a larger, diverse and incredibly gorgeous appellation that lies west of Faugères, to the northwest of Béziers, running into the Minervois on its western border. The more northern, higher-elevation vineyards are primarily schists soils, but as you move south, it becomes limestone and clay terroirs. Saint-Chinian produces reds, whites and Rosés, with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre taking center stage over Carignan for the reds. The whites are mostly Grenache Blanc, but can also include Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino, Viognier, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Carignan Blanc and Macabeu. In addition, there are two cru villages: Saint-Chinian Berlou, which was awarded cru status in 2005, and Saint-Chinian Roquebrun. Both villages are in the northern part of the appellation. The Saint-Chinian Berlou label can only be used for wines grown on sandstone and schist soils, from ten-year-old vines, and they must be aged 15 months prior to bottling. The Saint-Chinian Roquebrun label can only be used for wines grown on schist soils and they too must see 15 months of elevage prior to bottling. Saint-Chinian yields a more perfumed, complex and elegant style of wine, with lots of minerality and medium to full-bodied richness. The wines from the schist soils in the northern part of the appellation resemble those from Faugères. Top producers here include Chateau Castigno, Clos Bagatelle, Domaine la Lauzeta, Mas Champart and Domaine Canet Valette. Hecht & Bannier also makes a fabulous Saint Chinian that’s well worth checking out.

La Clape: Part of the larger Languedoc AOC until 2013, the Languedoc La Clape AOC is unquestionably one of the most beautiful regions in the entire Languedoc. Lying just outside the city of Narbonne, right up against the Mediterranean, it consists of iron-rich, sand and limestone terroirs. If you’re ever visiting Narbonne, take the time to drive D168 out to the coast; it’s an incredibly beautiful drive! The region produces reds, whites and Rosés, with the reds a possible blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, and smaller parts Carignan and Cinsault. The whites can contain just about any valid Mediterranean white grape. Top estates include Chateau de la Negly, Chateau d’Angles, Domaine de Boede, Chateau Bouisset and Chateau Rouquette.

Minervois: Another large, sprawling appellation, Minervois was awarded AOC status in 1985 and covers over 14,000 acres spanning from the western edge of Saint-Chinian all the way to the medieval, fortified city of Carcassonne (which is a must-visit if you’re on vacation). While Minervois can produce red, white and Rosé, reds dominate the production; the wines can be a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with smaller amounts of Carignan, Cinsault, Terret, Lladoner and Picpoul Noir. Like in Saint-Chinian, the unique limestone terroir around the village of La Livinière was awarded cru status in 1999. It’s difficult to generalize, but in my experience Minervois produces some of the most voluptuous, sexy and perfumed wines of the Languedoc. This could be due its warmer climate and mostly south-facing terroirs. Top producers here include Domaine Anne Gros (this estate is in the higher elevation, northern Cazelles region, which I suspect will be another cru soon), l’Oustal Blanc, Clos du Gravillas, Jean Baptiste Senat, Chateau Maris, Clos del l’Escandil and Domaine Saint Eulalie.

Limoux, Malepère and Cabardès: As you move west of the Minervois, past the city of Carcassonne, you have the Cabardès, Malepère and Limoux appellations. All three of these possess a more continental, Atlantic-influenced climate, and could be thought of as a hypothetical blend of Bordeaux and the Languedoc. The primary grapes shift towards Bordeaux varieties and you find more Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc—all of which can be blended with Syrah and other Mediterranean varieties. Limoux is the largest of these three AOCs and is famous for its sparkling wines made from Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Top estates include Domaine de Baron’Arques (owned by the team at Mouton Rothschild and they fashion a gorgeous Chardonnay and Bordeaux blend), Chateau Rives-Blanques and Toques & Clocher.

Corbières: Located south of the Minervois, the Corbières is a large AOC and covers over 50,000 acres running from the southern edge of the Minervois down to the Corbières Mountains, which form the northern border of the Roussillon. Given the size, it’s difficult to generalize about the wines from this AOC, but I start to find a more Roussillon style here, with richer and riper characters dominated by black fruits and minerality. The appellation produces reds, whites and Rosés, with the reds (95% of the production) consisting of mostly Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The stars of the Corbières are Chateau Ollieux-Romanis, Maxime Magnon, Domaine d’Aussières, Chateau Vieux Moulin, Gerard Bertrand, Domaine de la Cendrillon and Domaine Sainte Croix.

Fitou: Created in 1948, Fitou is the oldest appellation for red wine (they only produce red) in the Languedoc. This tiny appellation consists of two parts: one located high up in the Corbières mountains, called Haut Fitou, and one located up against the Mediterranean Sea called Maritime Fitou. Unquestionably, the finest wines emerge from the rugged limestone hillsides located further inland, and these wines are dominated by old vine Carignan, with more and more Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre being planted. My favorite estate here is Domaine Jones, and other notables include Domaine les Mille Vignes, Domaine Bertrand-Berge and Domaine Galaman, as well as several co-op wines that represent terrific values. These wines share a lot of similarities with both the Corbières and Roussillon releases.

As always, happy hunting and thanks for reading !

JEB DUNNUCK  | The Wine Advocate

Récompenses la Negly 2017


A suivre

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