In the early 1990s, Christophe Peyrus took over his family’s vineyards in the Pic Saint-Loup appellation of the Languedoc. For years, his father had sold the crop off to the local cooperative, but after the seeking the council of some of France’s greatest vignerons and domaines (Didier Dagueneau, Clos Rougeard, and Grange des Pères), Christophe decided to bottle his own wine. With the help of his partner, Françoise Julien, the two have made Clos Marie one of the most respected names in the appellation, but not without a lot of hard work. The domaine’s vineyards are located in and around the village of Lauret, north of Montpelier, on terraces that sit on the backside of the Montagne de l’Hortus, the peak that faces the pointed Pic Saint-Loup. This subappellation under the Coteaux du Languedoc AOC is known for some of the most finessed wines of the region, in large part due to the cooling breezes that blow south from the Cévennes Mountains. In 2000, Christophe and Françoise decided to convert their vineyards from lutte-raisonnée to biodynamic farming. The soils of the vineyards are continuously plowed to force the vines’ roots to seek nourishment deep down in the chalky limestone bedrock. They keep yields low at 15 to 35 hl/ha, and have replanted 75% of the vineyards to a higher vine density, which many growers also believe causes enough competition among the roots to invigorate the vine. Their séléction massale cuttings are sourced from their 70- to 100-year-old vines, and through careful replanting they have increased their holdings to 20 hectares.
Christophe is as passionate about the details in the cellar as he is about those in the vineyards. The grapes ferment in cement tanks and undergo long cuvaisons at cool temperatures, which stabilize the wines sufficiently so that fining and filtration are not necessary. “L’Olivette” is their entry-level wine. “Cuvée Simon,” named for their son, spends two winters in barrels and is bottled in June, nearly 18 months after the harvest. “Métairies du Clos” is sourced from mostly old Carignan vines and is aged primarily in neutral barrels and newer Stockinger foudres, which also house the “Manon Blanc,” named for their daughter. The “Les Glorieuses” bottling is sourced from their best terroir and ages for three winters in oak—it is their signature bottling, regarded by many critics as a reference wine for the appellation.