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2011 Mas Jullien, Carlan Terrasses du Larzac
Mas Jullien's 15 hectares were developed by Olivier Jullien in 1985. It is located in an area of magnificent wine potential, that of the Terrasses du Larzac (Côteaux du Languedoc), in Jonquières amidst the rocky terraces of the plateau (if that doesn’t sound too contradictory), itself situated 40 km to the north of Montpellier.
The terroir is divided between the argilo and the calcaire (clay and the limestone); the wines themselves come from Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan, vinified by parcel and aged for around 18 months in demi–muid, delivering plenty of garrigue-influenced charm and a pleasing purity.
Grenache is the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. In the Southern Rhône it provides the backbone for most red blends and is the key component of Châteauneuf du Pape. Some Châteauneufs such as Château Rayas are even made from 100% Grenache. In the Languedoc it plays a key role in many blends and is responsible for much of the Rosé wine from Southern France.
It is the most extensively red wine grape grown in Spain where it is known as Garnacha Tinta - in Rioja it is blended with Tempranillo and is most widely planted in the warm Eastern Rioja Baja region. The very best Garnacha wines come from Priorat in Catalonia, where fruit from old Garnacha bush vines is blended with small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon to produce wines of startling intensity and depth of fruit.
Grenache was once Australia`s most widely planted black grape but much of it was grubbed up in the 70s and early 80s to make room for more fashionable grapes. However plantings have been on the increase since the early 1990s and the best examples are found in the Barossa Valley from dry-farmed, bush-pruned, old Grenache vines.
The Coteaux du Languedoc appellation is either a useful assemblage of the top enclaves in the Hérault department or an extremely unhelpful conglomeration of vastly different sub-regions which would be more helpfully categorised independently. Whatever one's opinion, it is not short of both significance and potential, running along the Mediterranean coast from Narbonne almost as far east as Nîmes, and covering over 10,000 hectares – as well as some of the most attractive and wonderfully-situated vineyards in France.
Several of its sub-appellations are fighting for full AC status, the most famous being La Clape, Picpoul de Pinet and Pic St Loup. Of the others, high quality wines are now being produced in, inter alia, Montpeyroux, Grés De Montpellier and Terrasses du Larzac. All the principle grapes are represented, with Carignan and Cinsault reduced to a maximum of 40 percent apiece to encourage more fashionable varieties, especially Syrah and Mourvèdre. The terroir is equally diverse, with limestone, schist, sand and clay all evidenced.
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