Mas d’Amile Terrasses du Larzac Le Petitou, an absolute gem
Roughly 60% Grenache with Syrah and Carignan. The wine sings of its Mediterranean heritage, rich with licorice and tapenade in a long, lean, tension-filled profile. Originally, this was to be a rosé, but Amélie didn't like the result, so she decided to make a lighter, more elegant and refreshing red. The Grenache and Syrah come from her highest hillside parcels, which are windswept sites of very dense limestone with very little clay, giving the wine intense aromatics. The Carignan comes from a lower site and gives color as well as acidity.
The grapes are de-stemmed and raised entirely in tank. The SO2 additions are minimal and done following devatting, then again during élevage, and a third time after blending. Typically the total amounts to 25 mg/l, which is less than Demeter's threshold for natural wines (Demeter's thresholds are 100 mg/l for organic wines; 70 mg/l for biodynamic wines; and 30 mg/l for natural wines).
The label was designed by her daughter Gabrielle and son Paul (then six and four respectively) with help from friends. That, plus the fact that the cuvée is the most recent in the domaine's range, accounts for the name Petitou--in spirit, the little one. Production averages 7,500 bottles.
All of Amélie’s vines are hand-harvested by the extended family (above is her daughter Gabrielle during the 2019 harvest), and all ferments in the cellar are allowed to happen spontaneously.
These parcels lie between 150-400 meters in elevation at the base of the Cevennes Mountains and its plateaux—which is to say, hard up against the Massif Central, a dramatic backdrop at the very end of the Languedoc plain, roughly 25 miles from the Mediterranean.
Terrasses du Larzac gained appellation status in 2014. Its cru is the village of Montpeyroux, the old staging area for trade between the interior and the coast. Standing alone between Faugères and Pic St Loup, the appellation is a hotbed of cutting-edge production these days, and it’s easy to see why. Its soil is limestone rubble and is wildly infertile (the very name Montpeyroux refers to stony or rocky mountain); its elevations are high; and its diurnal shifts are radical—temperatures can drop as much as 68°F at night thanks to the cold air sweeping off the imposing Larzac plateau, making this one of Languedoc’s latest ripening appellations. Its best wines distill the essence of Languedoc: soaring aromatics, spice, garrigue, and succulent notes of tapenade, with length and elegance in place of extracted power (it’s possible to go for power here, and some do, but most have seen the light). The vast majority of producers work organically or biodynamically.