A wine journey to Languedoc wouldn't be complete without a visit to Montpeyroux, the northernmost of the Languedoc appellations.
The town of 1,300 is a true maze of streets, all leading indirectly to the center of town, where
each year, on the third Sunday in April, Montpeyroux hosts a wine festival.
Over 'twenty' producers highlight their wines in caves, on the street and in their production facilities.
At the 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' event, on the spot sales of the wines tried and liked are sold. The event was launched in 1999 by the Montpeyroux wine producers. It is a way of showing off their wine producing facilities, their wines and the picturesque village of Montpeyroux.
Entrance to the event is '7 euros ($8) for a tasting glass that entitles the holder with unlimited samples from the over one-hundred bottles poured.
Most of the wines , 80% are red, and feature the Languedoc line-up of grapes: Grenache, Mouvedre , Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault. Unlike the rest of Languedoc, this area is much cooler and the wines take on more serious, full-bodied flavors. With summer storms and heavy annual rainstorms, the underground water table is sufficient to provide water to the vines, even during droughts.
The whites (20% of production) are more acidic then their Languedoc counterparts. The focus is acidity, using the grapes of the appellation, Vermentino (known locally as Rolle), Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, PicpoulBlanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc.
Montpeyroux is located 25 miles northwest of Montpellier. The vineyards are anywhere from 450 feet to 1500 feet in altitude. Montpeyroux is nestled in the foothills of the Larzac, with views of Mount Baudille. The area is windy much of the time, while supporting a Mediterranean climate.
The soil in Montpeyroux is considered special, as limestone and clay dominate. There are traces of lava stones, ice age arid soils and hard blue marl in the mix.
The uniqueness of the soil profile is what makes the AOC Montpeyroux Languedoc wines special.
The rules for the blending of grapes are simple: three varieties or more can be blended at a time, with one principal variety representing at least 40% of the blend, while not going over 70%.
Participating in the 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' Festival in Montpeyroux were 21wine producers, which included:
Domaine Alain Chabanon
Domaine Saint Andrieu & Boisantin
Castelberry Cooperative Artisanale
Le Clos De L'Aven
Domaine Des Crecaux
Domaine De L'Hortgrand
La Jasse Castel
Mas De La Fee Nomene
La Mas De Bertrand
Mas D' Amile
Mas De La Mellade
Domaine Puech Auger
Domaine Du Joncas
Domaine De Clememtine
Domaine Cinq Vents
Le Petit Domaine
The 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' Wine Festival was a daylong event (10am-6pm) which included music, jugglers on stilts and inductions into Montpeyroux 'secret society' for the day. The day was home to an outdoor community meal that highlighted the dish, 'Aligot', made from potatoes, garlic, butter and mountain cheese. The elastic substance was topped with a local grilled sausage.
I've attached numerous photographs to tell the day's story of the 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' Wine Festival.
For more information on Montpeyroux and the festival, visit: www.montpeyroux-tco.fr
A map of the various participating producers
Wines from producer Domaine D'Aupilhac
Philip S. Kampe