Within the massive sweep of vineyards across the Languedoc, one of the rising stars is undoubtedly the ruggedly beautiful appellation of ‘Terrasses du Larzac’, a name that was created as recently as the late 1990s.

Ten years ago Terrasses du Larzac was a little known Languedoc Cru.  It was then catapulted to fame in 2014 when it achieved its own AC status aimed at highlighting this area’s special terroir and climate.  This year, on 1 October 2024 after the harvest, the 96 wineries in this 750 hectare appellation will be celebrating with a ‘Soulenque’ (Occitan term for a celebratory harvest party) to mark their 10th anniversary.

Ten years on the quality of Larzac’s wines is impressive.  The special terroir and natural landscape has attracted a group of hard-working artisans, with an incredible forty winegrowers new to the appellation within the last ten years.  Alongside well-known names like Mas de Daumas Gassac, Mas L’Ecriture and Domaine de la Grange des Peresin in the appellation, there is now some dynamic young talent like Mas d’Agamas, Mas des Brousses, Mas de Cap Daniel and Le Clos du Serres.

This is the upper deck of the Languedoc.  The plateau itself rises up 800 metres, acting as a beautiful backdrop and protective barrier to the northern winds, giving cool night-time temperatures to the vineyards aiding slow ripening, retained acidity, elegance and structure in the wines.  Up here in northern Herault the limestone cliffs are dazzlingly white and volcanic basalts menacingly black – and this contrasting landscape is against a backdrop of holm oaks, olive groves and vines.

If you are in the area, Larzac is within easy access from Montpellier, just thirty minutes drive to the west.  It is directly inland from coastal Frontignan and Sete, but when you leave the heat and buzz of the coast heading for the hills the scenery becomes so much more dramatic and wild – and temperatures cool considerably.

The vines are not actually on the plateau.  They are nestled in the foothills below Mount St Baudille with plantings from 40 metres up to 450 metres on a mix of limestone, shingle, red ‘ruffes’ (iron oxide), clay and scree – which offers great diversity in the wines.  This large area also benefits from being surrounded by three national heritage sites: Cirque de Navacelles, Lac du Salagou-Cirque de Moureze and Gorges de l’Herault.  In such a natural environment, it is hardly surprising to hear that 70% of winegrowers here are now certified organically – a very impressive number.

This is red wine country per se.  The Terrasses du Larzac appellation is unusual in that it is the only one in the Languedoc which requires the blending of three grapes.

The main grapes, which make up 75% of the plantings, are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan.  The official Larzac blend must be from at least two of these grapes (up to 70% of each).  Although this is one of the few appellations where the heritage Carignan grape is one of the principal varieties, but it is limited to 50% maximum in the blend.  Those using the Larzac AC must then be aged one year.

The five secondary red grapes allowed in the appellation are Cinsault (by far the largest of this group) – as well as little known Counoise, Lledoner Pelut (also known as ‘Hairy Grenache’), Morrastel (a cross between Graciano and Bouschet Petit) and Terret Noir.

Tastewise, this rough hilly windswept landscape and cool climate (for Languedoc) creates intense powerful wines with an appealing ripeness and suppleness with smooth tannins alongside herby spicy notes.  Some of the finest bottles I have tasted from here certainly have as much complexity as some over-priced Chateauneuf du Pape, with whom they have a similarity of flavour.

The best wines in our tasting came from the 2020 vintage, which was particularly good in this appellation:



£21 Drinkmonger; All About Wine; Kwoff; Songbird Wine

Beautifully elegant with crunchy ripe raspberry fruit, lovely balance and an attractively gritty texture – this Grenache dominant wine hails from Le Clos’ coolest vineyard.

TERRASSES DU LARZAC 2020 Calmel & Joseph

£11.99 reduced from £14.99 Waitrose

A good introductory wine to the appellation; here Mourvedre is the dominant grape with its black olive and liquorice notes – it might lack complexity and power but it is a deliciously juicy well made wine.

TERRASSES DU LARZAC 2020 Mas des Brousses ***STAR BUY***

£22.95 Stone, Vine & Sun

Loved this intense Mourvedre-dominant blend with Syrah and Grenache.  More elegant and structured than you can find in the Rhone – this has both ripe intense black fruit, herby notes, savouriness, a certain freshness so distinct to Larzac, with beautifully textured tannins – definitely an estate to watch.

L’EXTREME TERRASSES DU LARZAC 2020 Domaine du Causse d’Arboras

£22 Wine Searcher

Distinctly minerally with a rich dark cherry flavour, rich vivid lush fruits with smooth tannins – the same Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend – but with a certain coolness on the palate than you never find in the Rhone.


£19.99 Ake & Humphris

Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault blend from a biodynamic producer.  Wonderful bouquet with intense plummy fruits, herby and savoury, but less complex on the palate.


By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 27 January 2024


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