Mas d’Amile, Terrasses du Larzac
|Country & Region||France, Languedoc|
|Appellation(s)||Terrasses du Larzac|
|Producer||Amélie and Sébastien d’Hurlaborde|
|Founded||2007; property in the family for 3 generations|
A mélie d’Hurlaborde started Mas d’Amile with her brother Sébastien in 2007, when they inherited a 2.5-acre parcel of old Carignan from their grandfather. Amélie did graphic arts and writing for producers in the southern Rhône; Sébastien was the main vineyard guy and GM for a local biodynamic domain, and they had planned for this moment. As soon as the inheritance came through, they took over the parcel and made the wine from that year’s crop in their grandfather’s garage.
Grandpa was okay with that. He had been a grower all his life, selling the crop to the co-op (plus he was one of the village mailmen; he knew everyone!). His father came from Spain and ended up marrying a local woman whose roots went back to 17th century Montpeyroux. When Amélie was born, Grandpa bestowed the nickname of Amile upon her—the masculine version of her name—and in one sense anyway things came full circle when she made her wine under that name in his garage. He is pictured below during the harvest of 2007.
While brother Sébastien kept his day job, Amélie went full time with the project. Montpeyroux’s well-known vigneron Sylvain Fadat helped her gain the trust of growers, enabling her to buy parcels from those taking their retirement. She now farms nine parcels and she does most of the work herself. These total 18.5 acres, growing in the commune of Montpeyroux within the appellation of Terrasses du Larzac. The vines average 35-years, apart from the 1930s-era Carignan plantation. Since the beginning in 2007 the vines have been farmed organically; increasingly, they have been given biodynamic treatments. In 2019 she went for certification and that is due in 2022. All are hand-harvested by the extended family (below is Amélie’s daughter Gabrielle during the 2019 harvest).
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.
Amélie’s brother Sébastien still consults (He’s the best consultant! she contends), but he’s taking a more backseat role while her husband, Jérôme, is stepping in to help her out.
|Le Petitou||Roughly 60% Grenache with Syrah and Carignan||From three parcels totaling five acres. The Grenache and Syrah come from Amélie’s highest hillside parcels, windswept sites of very dense limestone with very little clay, giving this wine intense aromatics. The Carignan comes from a lower site and contributes color and acid. All the grapes are de-stemmed. As with the Montpeyroux, SO2 is held to one minimal addition at crushing, another minimal one during the élevage, and a tiny bit at bottling. Production averages 425 cases.
Check out its refreshingly low alcohol! The wine sings of its Mediterranean heritage, rich with licorice and tapenade in a long, lean, tension-filled profile. Twenty percent is raised in older barrel, the rest in tank. The name comes from the fact that Petitou is the most recent cuvée in the domain’s range—hence, in spirit, the little one.
|Montpeyroux||Based on about 60% Grenache with roughly equal parts Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah||From three parcels totaling just under seven acres; all de-stemmed and raised half in foudre and half in neutral barrels for eighteen months. Elegant, savory, and deliciously long. Production averages 300 cases.|