2005 'Terre de Pierres' La Clape
Red Blend •Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape AOC
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Mission Codename: The Frizzy Haired Cousin
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure an allocation of the much raved about old vine Carignan from the Languedoc-Roussillon.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Chateau Moyau
Wine Subject: 2005 ‘Terre de Pierres’ Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape AOC
Winemaker: Peter Munday
The La Clape AOC is located where the Coteaux du Languedoc and Corbieres appellations overlap and is well known for its vineyards that lie on a limestone outcropping that extends across the entire region. The region produces red, rose and white wines that are fully representative of the region and the reds show particularly well, often times considered a vin de garde.
This wine is 52% Carignan, a grape that as of recent has received amazing press for its distinct Terroir driven qualities, bright fruit and distinct spice. The Carignan for this wine is from old vines with tremendous personality. Quoting Jon Bonné ,Carignan is “the frizzy-haired cousin to mellow Grenache or sharp-tongued Syrah”. “But when cared for and restrained from prolific growth, old Carignan vines offer a wine that combines beautiful bright fruit with a spicy edge (think celery seed) and a slight wild, animal tone.” The rest of the blend is 18% Mourvedre, 24% Grenache and 6% Syrah.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and deep garnet with ruby streaks through its clear but dark core. Along the edges the color becomes a deep ruby red and when swirled fast thin legs descend to the wine below are varying speeds.
Smell – Complex with a earthy and meaty/leathery component that is layered over dusty black and red fruit. Almost rustic, with a great funky nose that has hints of spice and black licorice as well.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium-to-full bodied wine has supple tannins that are braced by lively acidity and a kick of spice that hits on the tip of the tongue. Silky at the mid-palate with its soft structure lingering into the finish.
Taste – Well integrated with rich black and red fruit including blackberry, cherry, raspberry and cassis meld with meaty leather and earthy mineral undertones. A touch of salty spice and black licorice also emerge as you explore this fun wine.
Finish – Medium in length and fading cleanly with the lingering earthy and spiced red and black fruit begging for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2005 Chateau Moyau ‘Terre de Pierres’ La Clape AOC is a delicious example of the Terrior driven wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Fun, complex and rustic all in one, this wine has a great nose, a plush structure, a well integrated flavor profile and a clean finish. Pair this wine with grilled Portobello mushroom burgers to bring out the great earthiness and rustic fruit.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Peter Munday / Terre de Pierres 2005
WINE EDUCATION: BPREA (Carcassonne, France) ; many books and much tasting
WINE JOB BRIEF: Work with the exceptional terroir of La Clape to produce exceptional wines with as little interference as possible
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Produce the best grapes possible and make sure the wine reflects that quality
WINEMAKER QUOTE: The quality of the wine is decided at pruning time not harvest time
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: May 2006 (Moyau); September 1996 (Peter Munday)
AGENT WHITE: Peter, Thank you for taking the time to talk with our operatives today. Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
PETER: The first wine appreciation TV programmes shown on UK TV in the mid 80’s showed me there was more to wine than something to drink with Sunday lunch with the parents. They got me analyzing wine to find out why I enjoyed one wine more than another apparently similar wine.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
PETER: Alain Graillot in Crozes Hermitage. He convinced me that you didn’t need masses of formal qualifications or tons of experience to make good wine – just a real passion for wine and a desire to always improve.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: People like me – fans of good wine.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
PETER: Terre de Pierres is a ‘garrigue’ wine. The ‘garrigue’ is the wild heathland that surrounds Moyau. The vineyards that make Terre de Pierres are surrounded by wild rosemary bushes, thyme, almond trees and so many wonderful flowers. It is a blend of 4 grapes: Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The wine spends 12 months in French oak barrels. It has a deep red colour and the nose is a heady blend of blackcurrants and raspberries with hints of licorice and caramel. In tasting you get mellow black fruits, followed by silky tannins and a slightly spicy finish.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
PETER: Rack of lamb with chanterelle mushrooms
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the La Clape AOC so special?
PETER: La Clape in Languedoc has a unique combination of mountain and sea climates.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
PETER: At the moment it is Harvest time but my ongoing project for Terre de Pierres is to find the best oak barrel for each individual vineyard.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
PETER: With the curiosity to want to understand the background of each wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Chateau Moyau can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Three Stars – Decanter Magazine
About This Wine:
Medium bodied with intense and complex aromas of cassis, blackberry and licorice. Silky tannins give excellent structure to ripe black fruit, raspberry and cherry flavors.
Made from a blend of southern red grape varietals (52% Carignan, 24% Grenache Noir, 18% Mourvèdre and 6% Syrah), the wine is cherry red with flashes of black in the glass with an intense nose of black currants, raspberries and licorice. As the wine opens, the wine takes on aromas of mellow black fruits with slightly spicy, elegant finish. The wine is firm and structured with smooth and silky tannins.
“Terre de Pierres” 2005 is recommended (3 stars) by Decanter, which describes the wine as “Closed and dry on the nose. Firm and structured palate with warm, dusty fruit underneath. Has character. Drink from 2008.” Wine Spectator awarded it 88 points.
The wine comes from the La Clape cru in the appellation of Coteaux du Languedoc. (Within an appellation, a cru classification signifies that the wines are of better quality and have an individual character.) Created in 1985, Coteaux du Languedoc appellation runs along the Mediterranean coast east from Narbonne to Nîmes. The appellation is currently in flux and appears to be moving to a more hierarchal, pyramid structure with crus like La Clape being at the pinnacle.
La Clape is one of France’s smallest viticultural areas. The area is known for being one of the hottest and windiest parts of France. Château Moyau’s vineyards are located on the limestone plateau that defines the cru, sloping down to the Mediterranean and its salt estuaries. The setting could not be more beautiful.
“Terre de Pierres” is produced from low-yielding vines that average 30 years old. The fruit is complex and mature. Yields are kept even lower through pruning and cropping techniques (30 hl/ha) and are picked and sorted by hand. Careful de-stemming ensures that no unwanted bitterness or tannins are imparted to the wine. Each varietal is vinified and aged separately using modern wine-making equipment and facilities for optimum quality, before being blended and bottled. Only 500 cases of this wine were made.
Pair Chateau Moyau Terres de Pierres with grilled meat, lamb and game. It also goes well with earthy dishes (cassoulet, mushrooms, root vegetables), paella and dishes where the dominant flavors are rosemary, juniper, thyme or lavender.
About The Winery:
The South of France is legendary as an international vacation spot, but it also hosts one of the smallest and most beautiful Appellation d’origine contrôlée’s (A.O.C.) in the country – Coteaux du Languedoc, La Clape. Clapas in the ancient Occitan language means “heap of stones.” It’s a small area, ten miles long on oneside between the limestone formations of the Montagnes de la Clape and the sloping hills and small valleys leading to the Mediterranean.
When this part of France was part of the Roman Empire, nearby Narbonne was a major port and administrative center. As a reward to Roman soldiers, the Senate granted property for vine cultivation on La Clape – which at the time was an island mountain range separate from Narbonne. Today the area has silted up, rejoining La Clape with the mainland. Here a hot and sunny Mediterranean climate provides over 3000 hours of sunshine a year. Grape ripening is tempered by moisture from the salt water lakes and estuaries, as well as the strong Mistral winds which blow in from North Africa across the Mediterranean for over 286 days a year.
In the last ten years, buyers from around the world have bought some of the 40 properties in the appellation. Among the new owners are an international group comprising of British, Americans, Germans, Swiss and Italians. Attracted by it’s seaside vineyards and its favorable microclimates, they have revitalized many run-down estates with the goal of making world-class wines.
The Vineyards of Chateau Moyau: Chateau Moyau has its origins in the Middle Ages. Legend has it that the original settlers were pirates whose leader answered to the name Moyau. Another story claims that Moyau is derived from the word marais or marsh.
The Chateau was owned by the Herteman family from the 18th century until 2004, when Dr. Bernhard Koehler, a German fund manager living in Switzerland, purchased it. He saw potential in the six residential buildings, two large wine cellars, pigeon tower and stables. Through benign neglect many parcels had not been replanted. As a result, the new owner inherited parcels of old vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, most over 60-year’s old.
Koehler hired a passionate young wine maker, Stephanie Chanot, to lead a team of two full-time employees. Previously, Chanot was technical director of the vineyards of Baron Philippe de Rothschild in Chile. Koehler also brought in Claude Gros, a respected consulting winemaker with clients throughout the world, to consult and advise at Chateau Moyau.
Chateau Moyau covers an area of 128 acres with about 60 acres devoted to vines. Sixty percent of the vines are planted in parcels that border the Mediterranean. The remaining 40 percent are planted in the hills among the Garrigues scrubland of wild lavender and rosemary. Yields are limited to approximately 800 gallons per 74 acres (30 hl/ha) and are hand picked. State of the art de-stemming delivers grapes free from stems and leaves which can cause harsh, bitter-tasting tannins.
With a rich assortment of red varietals such as Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Carginan, Cinsault, the output is 90% red and rosé wines. The Chateau is also increasing its white wine output with new plantings of Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc varietals.
Wine Type: Red Wine
Appellation: Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape