Presentation of the various appellations
Appellation Minervois La Livinière
The Domaine Les Combes Cachées, enjoys over 5 hectares of parcels classified on the terroirs of Minervois La Livinière.
The geographical area of the Minervois La Livinière appellation of origin, very limited in its geographical extension, is located in the heart of the Minervois region in the Petit Causse region, leaning against the Piedmont of the Black Mountain, the southernmost part of the Cevennes. In a landscape with enchanting perspectives and tortured relief, the vine alternates with hills covered with pines, garrigues (scrubland), junipers or oaks, interspersed with thalwegs or more ample depressions. Hot and dry, with a marked summer water deficit, it nevertheless benefits from fresh nocturnal currents that descend from the ridges of the Causse.
The geographical area of the appellation extends over the territory of six municipalities, around the villages of La Livinière and Siran, where all the parcels of the domain Les Combes Cachées are located in the department of Hérault, between the highly touristic Carcassonne and the close-to-sea Narbonne.
A little local wine history
The vineyard is present in “Minervois” since the Roman era, where the wine culture is established permanently in this region, favourable to trade links thanks to the Roman road crossing from Toulouse to Lodève. The vineyard history of the region coincides with that of Languedoc, with the succession of great invasions of the 3rd to 4th century, Saracen conquests restraining the expansion of the vineyard from the 7th to the 9th century, and then the impetus of the Benedictine abbeys taking over. The development of transport infrastructure, culminating in the opening of the Canal du Midi in 1680, is contributing to the expansion and growth of the wine industry; at the same time, its organization is gradually turning towards a cooperative system, in particular following the wine crisis of 1907.
A trade union was created in the Minervois region in 1922, but professionals from 6 villages centered around “La Livinière” consider that they have a specific terroir and know-how to distinguish the quality of their red wines. After 30 years of work to match land and grape varieties, the La Livinière defense union saw its wish fulfilled in 1999, when the controlled label of origin “Minervois-La Livinière” is recognized.
There are now 32 private cellars and 3 cooperative cellars that produce 8,400 hl annually, or 30% of the volumes in this territory, a reasoned and limited production of great red wines …
Favourable conditions for exceptional wines
The wines of the appellation is elaborated from the blending of several grape varieties, according to the tradition of the Languedoc vineyards, with a major proportion (60% minimum) of the grape varieties Black Grenache, Syrah (40% minimum) and Mourvèdre. On the terroir of Les Combes Cachées, Grenache and Syrah make up 81% of the vines. These grape varieties have a strong, purple color with tile-color gleams, and are rich and dense. Complex, they evolve on spicy notes, of cooked fruits, embellished with scents of vanilla or cocoa, after the aging of 12 months minimum in oak barrels.
The particular climatic conditions of the region are indeed favourable to an optimal maturity of the grape and a certain acidity, resulting in a sought-after balance between alcohol and tannins.
The plots of the appellation, well exposed, are mainly on clay-limestone soils with high stoniness, with low yields (the specification requires a maximum of 45 hl/ha but our yields are about 30/35 hl), resulting in concentrated and powerful wines.
The Black Grenache grape variety brings warmth and roundness in the mouth and grows well on the stony terraces and the marls. Syrah, an earlier-maturing grape variety, brings richness in sugar and fruit aromas. Both historic grape varieties, the Cinsault can bring all its finesse, while the Carignan brings body and tannins.
Wine-making techniques have also been adapted in order to make the most of each varietal; thus, the wines benefit from a 18-month breeding until the 15 of October of the year following that of the harvest so that the tannins become round and silky. Our wines are bred for 12 months in oak barrels, renewed by 1/3 every year.
Most of the red Minervois production of the Les Combes Cachées estate comes from the same terroir as our Minervois La Livinière, but with a different wine-making process that allows us to propose wines suitable for faster tasting.
The geographical area of the AOC “Minervois” leans against the Black Mountain, the southernmost part of the Cevennes; it is located in the heart of a vast amphitheater that descends regularly from north to south to finish on a gentle slope near the river Aude. This vineyard blends harmoniously with the natural environment dotted with garrigues (shrubland), pines trees and oaks.
The geographical area covers 61 communes, including those of La Livinière, Minerve and Siran in Hérault, where the plots of Les Combes Cachées are located.
A long wine-growing tradition in the Minervois
Following the wine crisis of 1907, the wine sector was re-organized and gave birth to the law establishing the “appellation of origin”. After the creation of the defense trade union in the Minervois region, the latter was recognized in AOC in 1985, following a conversion of grape varieties in favor of black grapes such as Grenache noir, syrah, mourvèdre and cinsault, and white grape varieties such as Grenache, Maccabeu, Roussanne, Marsanne and Vermentino, as well as the introduction of rigorous production conditions.
As of today, 124,000 hectoliters which are claimed in AOC “Minervois” by 210 particular cellars and 25 cooperatives, which produce 40% of the volumes.
Quality wines on a particular soil
In general in the Minervois appellation, the red wines come mainly from the blend of black Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah grape varieties, and present a red-purple to purple robe. Their balance and their aromatic richness, reminiscent of red fruits, encourage their consumption in their youth. Warm and powerful, and developing aromatic notes often spiced or liquorice, they offer the guarantee of a good aptitude to aging.
The rosé wines have a slightly salmon color, and their aromas are similar to red fruits. They are both fresh and powerful, harmonious and persistent.
White wines have a pale gold color with green highlights. Complex and warm, with marked floral accents, they bring in lively notes of fresh fruits such as peach, mango or apricot.
The combination of the Mediterranean climate and topography with southern exposure, swept by prevailing winds with low precipitation, gives the geographical area an ability to cultivate an original vineyard on clay-limestone soils. These particular conditions are favorable to optimal maturity of the grape and to the adequacy between the grape variety and the vineyard situation, contributing to the singular expression of the wine.
Our single-varietal wines.
They benefit from the same viticultural work, the same level of wine-making process, the same terroirs of La Livinière and Siran, as our major appellation wines. They are the fruit of a deliberate original choice of grape varieties on exceptional terroirs and a vinification of single grape variety to discover a singular aromatic expression. Our productions are confidential: less than 6000 bottles in total in 2015 for our three vintages (Pinot / Malbec / Viognier), our three grape varieties, and our two colors (red and white) …. Our yields are low, in the same spirit than that of the whole wine spectrum: we prefer maturity and concentration. This original production, on the fringe of our core business Minervois / Minervois La Livinière is deliberate because we claim the quality and originality of our terroirs and our production …
We chose to use the appellation Indication Géographique Protégé Pays d’Oc for each of these three wines: Pinot Noir, Malbec (Côt), and Viognier.
Do not be mistaken : these wines are really singular and deserve your discovery … and the number of bottles is small !