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Terre des Dames, “La Diva” RougeLanguedoc, France 2016 (750mL)  |  FREE Shipping on any 6 bottles!

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Terre des Dames, “La Diva” Rouge Languedoc, France 2016 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
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Alcohol
The south of France is Shangri-la to food and wine lovers. Think of how many writers, artists, cooks, and yes, winemakers have come to France’s Mediterranean Coast from somewhere else and never left: That’s what Lidewij Van Wilgen did, and the brilliant organic wines she crafts at her Terre des Dames estate are the result.

It takes a lot to stand out in an area as vast and naturally blessed as the Languedoc: lusciously textured, remarkably inexpensive red wines are widely available down here, but today’s 2016 goes above and beyond in every way. From the first smell, this wine blows your mind. Organically farmed old vines are Terre des Dames’ ace in the hole, and “La Diva” showcases Syrah, Grenache, and some 100-year-old Alicante Bouschet in all its dark-fruited, garrigue-scented glory. Even without a recognizable AOC designation to use on her labels, Van Wilgen’s wines are as place-specific as they come, full of Mediterranean sun, wild herbs, savor, and dusty earth. It reminded me of some of my favorite wines of Bandol and the southern Rhône costing double, but the price-to-quality is textbook Languedoc. Take advantage and stock up—once you’ve tried it, you’ll be itching to go back for more.

I’ll admit, too, that the story behind Terre des Dames deepens my appreciation for the wines. Lidewij Van Wilgen left Holland, and a successful advertising career, behind when she re-located to the Medieval town of Murviel-Lès-Béziers in 2002. She, her husband, and their three daughters moved into a run-down 18th-century mas (farmhouse) surrounded by 14 hectares of vines in a similar state of disrepair. She immediately began studying enology and resisted the urgings of more “knowledgeable” neighbors to uproot her heirloom vines and replant them with higher-producing clones. Instead, she nurtured the old plantings, converted to organics (obtaining certification in 2009), and embraced a minimal intervention approach in the cellar—all of which has paid off in the form of expressive, soulful wines of real pedigree. 

And it wasn’t just being Dutch, or a woman, that made her an outlier: The Terre des Dames property sits between the Saint-Chinian and Faugéres AOC zones, about midway down the Mediterranean Coast near Béziers, so most of her production has been labeled either as vin de pays (“country wine”) or with an indication geographique protégée (IGP) designation (La Diva ’16 is labeled with the IGP Côteaux de Murviel). Since Lidewij and her husband divorced, she and her daughters have run the “land of the ladies” themselves, with help from Jean-François Huc, enologist Alix Jojot, and viticulturist Nicolas Schneider.

The vineyards of Terre des Dames are in soils of clay, limestone, and flint rich in ancient marine fossils. A network of underground streams provides “natural” irrigation in this otherwise arid climate, while consistent winds help refresh the vines and prevent excessive ripening of the fruit. Over the last few years, Lidewij has also adjusted the oak-aging regimen for her reds, shifting to larger (500-600L) Burgundy barrels, only a small percentage of which are new.

If it helps to get a mental picture of this wine, think of some of the great producers from this part of the world: Domaine de l’Hortus in Pic-Saint-Loup; Mas Jullien in the Terraces du Larzac; Mas de Daumas-Gassac in the Hérault. The 2016 La Diva is 55% Syrah and 30% Grenache from 50- to 70-year-old vines, along with 15% Alicante from a century-old plot. All fruit is hand-harvested and meticulously sorted before a native yeast fermentation, followed by 12 months of barrel aging. In the glass, it’s a deep purple-ruby moving to magenta at the rim, with a deep, violet-scented Syrah character that wouldn’t be out of place in a top-tier Northern Rhône red. There’s lots of blackberry, currant, and mulberry followed by lavender, black pepper, olive, licorice, and wild herbs. It is full-bodied but impeccably balanced and downright lively on the palate—no excess alcohol or extract to weigh you down, but instead a level of freshness that lifts you up. Decant this 15-30 minutes before serving at 60-65 degrees in Bordeaux stems and pick something to cook that will let its full-throttle ‘Mediterranean-ness’ shine: Lamb comes immediately to mind, as it often does with reds like this, but there are many ways to go here. One reminder, though: You won’t be able to stop at one bottle, so plan accordingly!



Terre des Dames, “La Diva” Rouge Languedoc, France 2016 - SommSelect

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  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLanguedoc
  • Sub-RegionCôteaux de Murviel
  • SoilClay & Limestone, Flint
  • FarmingCertified Organic
  • BlendSyrah 55%, Grenache 30%, Alicante Bouschet 15%
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakLarge New & Used Cask
  • Service Temp.60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkNow-2024
  • Decanting15-30 Minutes
  • PairingLamb Kabobs

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLanguedoc
  • Sub-RegionCôteaux de Murviel
  • SoilClay & Limestone, Flint
  • FarmingCertified Organic
  • BlendSyrah 55%, Grenache 30%, Alicante Bouschet 15%
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakLarge New & Used Cask
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2024
  • Decanting15-30 Minutes
  • PairingLamb Kabobs

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