Vineyarddownload vineyard specs
Languedoc is the most ancient of the wine regions in France and the largest in the world. The area has more than 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) under vine, about one-third of all French vines, and represents three times the size of the vineyards of Bordeaux and more than four times the size of the Australian vineyards. The landscape of the Languedoc is incomparably rich and varied.
Climate and altitude are the most critical factors in the production of wines from the South of France. In Languedoc, the climate is essentially Mediterranean. Summers are hot and dry, and temperatures in spring and autumn are generally warm, despite a few possible frosty mornings in April. Winters tend to be mild and sunny with temperatures rarely falling below 0°C (32°F). Rainfall is minimal (among the lowest in France in some areas), and the strong tramontane inland wind helps dry the grapes and prevent disease. This is the ideal climate for cultivating vines.
The majority of the Mas La Chevalière vineyards are influenced by a Mediterranean climate, while the western region of Carcassonne has oceanic influences from the Atlantic, and the proximity to the Pyrenees puts the vineyards around Limoux in danger of spring frosts. The soil composition in Languedoc varies from chalk, limestone and gravel-based soil inland to more alluvial soil near the coast.
Mas La Chevalière has three vineyards: Roqua Blanca (100 percent red grape varieties), with a warm, dry climate, which produces rich and elegant wines; Mas Peyroli (100 percent Chardonnay), planted in altitude which preserves the freshness favorable for the development of the Chardonnay flavors; and the vineyard that spreads out at the bottom of the Mas, with a diversity of noble grape varieties.
Like Domane Laroche’s Chablis vineyards, Mas La Chevalière is in conversion to organic viticulture. Laroche has a keen sense for innovation, which was proven again in 2011, with the development of a weather station in Roqua Blanca to help to organize the work in the vineyard. This is particularly helpful in organic viticulture, as many operations in the vineyards must be carefully planned in order to have the maximum impact on the vines.
The Peyroli vineyard is planted with 12 hectares (29.65 acres) of Chardonnay. It is situated on a west-facing parcel at 450 meters (1475 feet) above sea level, at the foothills of the Massif Central, on steeply sloping hillsides with marl-limestone soil from the tertiary period. The vines are harvested late and an excellent level of acidity is preserved as a result of the cool climate and high elevation.
Roqua Blanca is an estate with 30 hectares (74 acres) of red grape varieties located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) to the north of Béziers. Here, the climate is relatively warm, with a variety of parcels facing west and east on limestone and dolomite soil from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and sandstone and marl soil from the tertiary (Miocene) period.
Winemakingdownload Winemaking specs
The harvest at Mas La Chevalière lasts from late August to mid-October, depending on the grape variety and the climate. The whites are picked first, followed by the reds, occasionally with some overlap. Respect for viticulture and grape quality are paramount, and the ultimate goal is always aromatic freshness. The winery strives to draw out the distinctive characteristics of each grape variety, allowing nature to do its own work as much as possible. The use of oak is moderate and is involved only in the production of the top-end wines, for added complexity.
Mas La Chevalière is considered a reference point in the region for the quality of its winery equipment, which allows for the thorough expression of each grape variety and each parcel. Blending occurs when the fermentation is completed and the wine is settled. Maturation takes place in stainless-steel tanks for the aromatic whites and fruity reds. Oak barrels are used for the fine red wines that have sufficient structure. The success of these wines lies not only in power and concentration but also in their balance and finesse. The conversion to screwcap closures for the majority of Mas La Chevalière wines took place in 2004.
Mas La Chevalière is a unique project in South of France, as the winery was designed for the vineyards. Peyroli and Roqua Blanca can deliver exceptional fruit, yet maintaining the highest quality from the vineyards to the fermentation tanks requires special attention, mostly during pressing and settling. Mas La Chevalière’s winery equipment is designed specifically for its processes, to carry the grapes from crates to sorting table and from sorting tables to destemmer without pumping (which can spoil grape skin, and therefore, aromas). Gentle pressing under protective conditions keeps fruit aromas intact. Cooling systems also play a major role in the process, to protect grapes from any spoilage. All plots are vinified separately in one of the 42 tanks of various sizes, but all are temperature-regulated.
It is a strong conviction of Laroche team that all efforts in the vineyard should be prolonged in the winery. Mas La Chevalière is currently undergoing active conversion to organic viticulture; the winery was designed specifically for organic winemaking, with an emphasis on reducing the addition of sulphur dioxide and water consumption in the winery.