Languedoc-Roussillon are effervescent areas where star domains rub shoulders with tomorrow’s gems. What is more, we have five new partner domains from the region to introduce you to. They are Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian, Balansa, Mas Combarèla, Ferrussac and Gardiès! We will take you through their stories, terroirs and wines that are produced in this rich and evolving region.
Mas Combarèla: A recent organic domain praised by the critics
Olivier Faucon founded Mas Combarèla, located in Saint-Jean-de-Fos just a few kilometres north-west of Montpellier, in 2016. The domain’s vineyards can be found in both Terrasses du Larzac and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. The viticulture there respects the environment (certified organic) and yields are controlled. Vinification is gentle with the aim of creating wines with plenty of finesse. The local varieties and terroirs are highlighted in the properties different cuvées.
Praised by critics (Jancis Robinson, Wine Enthusiast, the French magazine La Revue du Vin de France), this domain proves that it can produce consistent wines vintage after vintage. It’s a firm favourite with the iDealwine team!
Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian: A historic domain creating wines in a modern style
Cistercians monks started caring for wines at this domain in 1152. Nearly a millennium of experience has gone into delivering brilliant expressions of the great Pézenas terroirs. The domain was sold in 2015 and a new lease of ambition swept its way across the property and its wines thanks to Benoît Pontenier. The style of wines has evolved a lot, with the nectars gaining finesse and complexity. This revival convinced us to take a trip to rediscover this property steeped in history.
Domaine Balansa: A rising star whose wines are reminiscent to those from Domaine de l’Anglore
Domaine Balansa is a family property on 14 hectares of land situated on the Hautes-Corbières terroirs in Aude. The property’s old vines grow on hillsides sitting at between 140 and 280 metres above sea level, cared for using organic and biodynamic principles. In their schist soil vineyards, the vines are joined by the shrubland plants of garrigue and maquis. Dry and Mediterranean, they also have brilliant sun exposure and experience sweeping winds, creating ideal conditions for producing brilliant wines.
The grapes are harvested by hand and placed into 13kg crates. The berries are then gently pressed using a pneumatic press with an open bucket. In the cellar, vinification takes place with as little intervention as possible. Alcoholic fermentation is started naturally by natural yeasts and the wine is neither filtered nor fined. The total amount of SO2 in the wines is less than 15mg/L. A particular feature of the red wines is that they undergo carbonic maceration. Ageing takes place in several types of containers: stainless steel vats, concrete vats, jars, demi-muids (600-litre barrels) and oak barrels. When tasting the wines blind, some of them have something about them that is reminiscent of wines from Domaine de l’Anglore. A real gem!
Domaine de Ferrussac: Between Causse du Larzac and the Languedoc plains
Get lost in the breathtaking landscape that can be found between Causse du Larzac and the Languedoc plains with us! The Ferrussac family’s domain has been in their hands for over 100 years. Its vineyards sit at altitude (between 300 and 350 metres) at the heart of the recent Terrasses du Larzac AOC (created in 2014). The vines are cared for using organic methods with some biodynamic principles as well (cow manure, herbal mixes, etc.). The red varieties are Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Chenanson, while the white variety grown is Maccabeu.
After manual harvests where the grapes are placed in crates, plot-by plot vinification occurs. Depending on the style of the wine, ageing takes place in clay amphora, oak barrels or sandstone vats.
Alongside its wine production, the domain also has cows from the French bread Aubrac. In reference to this, the wine bottle labels feature a sketch of a bull’s head.
Domaine Gardiès: A Roussillon classic
Vines have been planted at the domain since the 18th century when it was called Mas Farine. Up until the middle of the 20th century, most of the production was sold to wine traders in Perpignan and Rivesaltes. Noëlle, the daughter of Justin Castany, took over the reins after she finished her viticultural education. Following her marriage to Henri Gardiés, they decided to change the name from Mas Farine to Domaine Gardiés. Over time, they decided to concrete more and more on their vines until in the end, they stopped the olive-production side of the estate. Jean Gardiés, their son, took over the running of the property in the 1960s, enlarging it until it was about 30 hectares in size. In 2004, he decided to stop using all chemical treatments on the vines.
Today, the 35 hectares are managed using organic methods. The vines are roughly 50 years old and the different varieties (reds: Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Grenache Noir, Carignan, Syrah / whites: Grenache Gris, Malvoisie, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Macabeu, Muscat à Petits Grains Blancs) go on to create around 10 cuvées. The terroirs either have schist or limestone-clay soils. The domain’s white wines are fine and pure with controlled ageing, while their reds are classic and full-bodied with great ageing potential!