Grès de Montpellier: the latest wine from Domaine de la Clapière.

Published 11.03.2022
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Beginning with the 2019 vintage, this is the first Languedoc – Grès de Montpellier AOC wine produced by the estate located in Montagnac. A wine that is both elegant and full-bodied.

Sophie and Xavier Palatsi, owners of Domaine de la Clapière, had long considered the idea of making a wine showcasing the character of the “Grès de Montpellier” terroir, covering the Languedoc AOC. In 2016, “to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our acquisition of the property, we created an anniversary wine, with a more marked character than our other wines, with a structural backbone that is more often associated with the Languedoc AOC,” describes Sophie Palatsi. This first experience turned out to be more that worthwhile when, in 2019, the couple seized the opportunity to acquire four hectares of vines under the Grès de Montpellier denomination, located in close proximity to the property’s existing vineyard, between the villages of Montagnac and Saint-Pons-de-Mauchiens.

An ode to the Grès de Montpellier character

Officially recognised in 2003, the Languedoc – Grès de Montpellier AOC covers 201 hectares within the agglomeration of Montpellier and its surrounding area. Bordered to the west by the Hérault valley, by the Pic Saint-Loup to the north, by the Vidourle valley to the east and by the coast to the south, the zone covered by the appellation is sheltered from northern influences by the Montagne Noire and the Cévennes. With its dry climate and sea winds, it constitutes, alongside La Clape, the wine region that is most influenced by the Mediterranean. With its postcard-worthy landscape, the region’s wines grow on slopes of moderate altitude (100 – 200m). Here and there, we find the small pebbles known in the Occitan language as “grès” that lend the appellation its name. This distinctive trait is typical of the estate, which has held Terra Vitis certification since its 2010 vintage, and “which is a fine expression of the region’s character, with hard limestone and rounded pebbles,” describes Sophie Palatsi. To fully reveal the potential of such distinctive soils, the property’s owners have worked hard on their 30-year old (on average) syrah and grenache vines, the two classic southern varieties that make up the blend. “The vines hadn’t always been treated in such a way as to make high-end wines, so we had a lot of work to do, which we are well on the way to completing,” asserts Sophie Palatsi.

“Elegant and full-bodied”

In order to reveal the very best of the terroir, the Palatsis made the decision to partially age the wine in stoneware amphorae, preserving the purity of the fruit. Amphorae were specifically selected for what they bring to the wine: “we have always tried to give each of our wines its own unique, easily identifiable character. As such, the amphorae allow us approach the aging process differently to how we would with Gatefer or Etincelle for example”, suggests Sophie Palatsi. “Grès de Montpellier” is a clear demonstration of the advantages of this winemaking method. Its blend of majority (80%) Syrah, which provides depth, and 20% Grenache, which provides structural complexity, aims for the perfect, intricate combination of balance, body, elegance and silkiness. The wine’s aromatic profile revolves around “a blackcurrant character, zan, and a touch of violet”, with a palette defined by “elegance and silkiness, with velvety tannins.” This is an intense wine, ready to drink within the year, paired for example with fillet of beef in a pastry crust, grilled duck breast, or a pecorino and truffle crème brûlée.

Grès de Montpellier is available in France from the Domaine de la Clapière online store.