Clos Marie: a breath of fresh air in the Languedoc

25 years ago, Christophe Peyrus and his wife Françoise Julien inherited some vine plots in Pic-Saint-Loup belonging to Marie Julien, Françoise’s grandmother, who gave her name to the domain. Since then, Clos Marie has increasingly made of itself a big name in the viticulture of the Languedoc region due to diligent and careful work undertaken in the vineyard and the cellar.

Clos Marie embodies the beauty of Pic-Saint-Loup and its young Languedoc appellations, all of which have made great strides in their ever-improving quality. Among the 900 hectares and 25,000 hectolitres produced in the Pic-Saint-Loup appellation, Christophe Peyrus and Françoise Julien figure among the most well-respected winemakers. They took up this 20-hectare property in 1995, and the vineyard has been cultivated biodynamically since that date…so it would be unfair to say they’d simply followed the crowd!

The vineyard is perched atop a charming, little mountain in the Cevennes which reaches 658 metres in height. Christophe Peyrus has really put his all into the venture of quality, since the path from a cooperative wine to fine wine cannot hope to be traversed without blood, sweat and tears. In order to end up where it is, the domain has certainly tried: firstly with the planting of several native grape varieties using massal selection, then Gobelet pruning, before abandoning the use of new barrels, and finally an increase in plant density up to 9,000 vines per hectare.

Well-reputed but discreet, Clos Marie appears to wish to remain somewhat mysterious. Besides, it is true that the process of its organic certification began only in 2010, when the environment had already been respected for a number of years. Here, 20 kilometres from Montpellier, on land populated by oak trees, thyme and rosemary…everything points to the Mediterranean, so we might worry about the wines being a bit too heavy or lacking in freshness. Quite the opposite is true: Clos Marie is known for the great finesse of its wine – its reds as much as its whites. The climate here is not foreign: being in the north of the Pic-Saint-Loup appellation, there is a certain freshness, and the area isn’t without its precipitation (relatively-speaking, compared to the rest of Languedoc-Roussillon). Even in the summer, the vines can enjoy some rather fresh nights, a boon when it comes to the balance of the wine produced. Also, the increased density of plantation has allowed for refined competition between the vines, and this has naturally balanced the volume of grapes per vine, decreased the leaf surface and maximised the development of each plant’s root system. According to Christophe Peyrus, this density in planting ensures that the vines draw a supplementary balance from the soil, compensating for the heat during the summer months.

In terms of its red wine, the domain follows tradition in its chosen grape varieties: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan. For white wines, it sticks yet more firmly to its roots: apart from Roussanne, Christophe Peyrus and Françoise Julien use time-honoured, local grape varieties (Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Clairette, Maccabeu). Their maintenance requires sincere respect for the terroir. Only minimal amounts of sulphur are used (1.5g/L at the point of bottling), and the wine is not racked many times – just once after malolactic fermentation. Thereafter, a long élevage (two winters for the Simon cuvée, three for Les Glorieuses) is what gives these wines their structure, all whilst avoiding any fining or filtering.

The domain offers a complete range, combining a white (the Manon cuvée) which clearly stands out from the Languedoc pack with its freshness, and reds of more varied profiles. Olivette is a wine for easy enjoyment, as accessible in terms of taste as much as in terms of price. On the other hand, the Simon cuvées, Métairies du Clos, and Les Glorieuses all deliver more depth and complexity…and have even better aging potential.

The meticulous work carried out in the vineyard and the cellar promises high quality wine, focused on finesse, the watchword of each of the domain’s cuvées. With this ambitious mission, they’ve managed to raise their wine to the pinnacle of Pic-Saint-Loup… and of the Languedoc!

What the guides say about Clos Marie

La revue du vin de France’s Guide Vert – 2* out of 3

Since setting themselves up in the Pic-Saint-Loup area in 1995, Christophe Peyrus and Françoise Julien have carried out experiments at regular intervals, a vital method for gaining an understanding of their terroir’s nuances. The work effected in the vineyard has further improved the finesse of the domain’s red wines. Stylistic ambition and wise risk-taking have allowed this wine to reach a quality that surpasses even much of the Languedoc region’s finest work. Personal aromatic hints have broadened the reach of the Simon and Les Glorieuses cuvées, which have the aging potential and the profile of the great Rhône wines without imitating them. Simon and Métairies du Clos are sold en primeur.

As for the wines themselves: the nose of the white resonates with hay, aromatic herbs and a buttery hint. The complex taste offers a lively sensation which accompanies the wine from start to finish; it has good volume with a spiced finish. A pleasant blend of Grenache completed with Syrah and Cinsault, Olivette is a safe bet with very fine tannins. While still rather closed, Simon is a reference point from Pic-Saint-Loup, evoking bramble and wild pepper: it delights with its pleasantly long and gently spiced finish. Ready from 2021.

Bettane&Desseauve 2020 – 3* out of 5

This domain is a beacon of Pic-Saint-Loup and has been masterfully managed since 1995 by Christophe Peyrus. A leading light of the appellation, this winemaker cultivates 22 hectares and has shaped a large range that stretches across the Coteaux du Languedoc. Acclaimed for their finesse, their substance, and their distinction, the wines of this domain are not however unanimously appreciated, since certain wine lovers are bothered by their acidity. Without endorsing this divisive factor, we commend Clos Marie for the unique finesse of its tannins and the delicate nature of its taste. After the devastating hail of 2016, 2017 has brought back what is fundamental to the domain. A model of success.

Take a look at the Clos Marie wines for sale on iDealwine

Clos Marie 2007 Olivette (Red)

This cuvée is made from the domain’s younger vines. It offers wines that are fresh, lively and silky with raspberry and floral notes. The wines are medium-bodied and can be enjoyed within six years of the vintage.

Clos Marie 2008 Manon (White)

The Manon cuvée figures among the finest of the Languedoc’s white wines. A blend of seven grape varieties, this wine exhibits great precision and lovely balance. The nose offers intense aromas of white flowers and citrus. To taste, its freshness is particularly pleasant and the finish is long. This cuvée has its origins in clay and limestone soil and has been subject to an organic and biodynamic growth. In the cellar, its vinification can be characterised by partial destemming, long maceration, punching down and an élevage in barrels.

Clos Marie 2017 Simon (Red)

Clos Marie Les Métairies du Clos (Red)

Les Métairies du Clos is a wine with floral and spiced scents. To taste, aromas of black fruit are very evident, as well as more animal notes which are revealed in a smoky, spicy finish. The Grenache, Carignan and Syrah varieties that make it up come from slopes of clay and limestone and were cultivated using organic and biodynamic methods.

Clos Marie Les Glorieuses (Red)

Named after a French island in the Indian Ocean, this is the most elaborate Clos Marie cuvée. Its nose carries aromas of ripe fruit mixed with spices, and the palate is mellow and light with a long finish. A real Languedoc gem which will flourish all the more when opened two hours before drinking…perhaps accompanied by honeyed and spiced duck.

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