The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) Terrasses du Larzac was born out of the collective strength and determination of a group of winegrowers who believed in their terroir. The name "Terrasses du Larzac" was coined at the end of the 1990s, and reflects the geographical location of the appellation. The vines are found clinging to the foothills of the Larzac plateau, flourishing on the fluvial and geological terraces of the river Hérault. The human dimension has helped seal the appellation's destiny, but here, the climate is the dominant factor.
The terroir of the appellation is first and foremost characterised by its climate.
In addition, the geological diversity of this area is exceptional, as it covers four different geological eras (Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic). This results in very diverse soils, though they all are formed by processes that are alluvial (loose sediments deposited by rivers) or colluvial (rock debris, or scree, deposited by gravity). Material and sediments originate from the Larzac plateau, or even further afield from the Cévennes and Mont Aigoual. For thousands of years the sediments and rock debris have been carried by the river Hérault and its tributary, the Lergue. Across the appellation, we find clay-limestone alluviums, limestone scree, pebbles, marl, and in localised pockets, soils that are formed upon sandstone, shale, basalt and, of course, upon the spectacular red-ochre ruffes.
Proximity of the Larzac plateau tempers the Mediterranean climate. The differences between day and night temperatures, and in particular the relatively cool nights, are key factors in the elegance and freshness found in Terrasses du Larzac wines. Channelled into the valleys of the two main rivers, the winds purify the air and limit the presence of disease and fungal infection.
The rainfall pattern in Terrasses du Larzac is typically Mediterranean, with an average of between 800 and 900 mm/year. The rain falls mainly in spring and autumn, though summer storms can sometimes bring relief to the vines in the hottest part of the year.
Within the appellation, nine red grape varieties are authorised for plantation and the subsequent blending process (where combinations of grape juices are assembled to then produce AOP Terrasses du Larzac wines). These nine varieties are divided into principal and accessory grape varieties. The principal varieties are Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan. The accessory grape varieties are Cinsault (which can represent up to 25% of the blend), Counoise, Lledoner pelut, Morrastel, and Terret noir.
This range of grape varieties, combined with the diversity of soils and the artisanal skills of winegrowers, gives rise to a wide range of wines, though all wines share a common thread linked to the geology and climate of the terroir.
The Terrasses du Larzac wines are distinguished by their soft and rounded tannins. The winegrowers mature them for at least one year. In these wines, we find a freshness and a real sense of the terroir, due to the power of the climate, geology and resulting soil conditions.
Though considered structured and complex, these are wines that are inherently accessible. They reflect a harmony and balance that stems from the dedicated care given by winegrowers to preserving the soil and local biodiversity. It is also clear that producing a wine with a living soil makes it possible to express the subtleties and nuances of each parcel within the AOP Terrasses du Larzac, leading to wines with depth and finesse.