Mas D’Alezon

Catherine Roque

Along with Saint-Chinian, Faugères forms the western border of the Coteaux du Languedoc; a viticultural region that extends from Nimes to Narbonne. Faugères is one of just a few viticultural areas in this broad region to be granted appellation independence from the more encompassing Coteaux du Languedoc appellation. Comprising 2000 hectares, Faugères is most often discussed in terms of its nearly omnipresent schist soil, a factor that along with the micro-climate of the Monts de Faugères, gives a singular expression to the typical Languedocian grape varieties. Schist is a metamorphic rock and more specifically a metasedimentary rock, having changed from shale or mudstone to schist through a process called recrystallization. It is believed that these Paleozoic rocks in Faugères give birth to wines of finesse and austerity. [Veterans of the wine business understand metamorphosis. Ours usually involves fractional melting followed by desiccation cracks with no hope of a post-glacial rebound.]

In 1997, Catherine Roque, already a vigneronne in the Vallée de L’Orb, acquired Mas D’Alezon and its 7 hectares in the northern corner of Faugères. The vineyards are in the village of Soumatre and, ranging from 350 to 450 meters in altitude, are the highest in the appellation. Catherine’s vineyard is certified organic and she employs bio-dynamic principles to enhance the health of the soil and the plants. Catherine grows Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah for her reds and Clairette and Roussanne for her white. The average age of her vines is 25 years, including plots of 70 year old Grenache and 80 year old Mourvèdre. Due to the combination of infertile soils and cool micro-climate, her grapes are very slow to ripen and yields are typically 20 to 25 hl/ha. The domain’s two red wines are vinified similarly.

Catherine relies on indigenous yeasts for the fermentations and she believes in long and slow fermentation at cool temperatures. The wines are aged in cement tanks and barrels that are not new, for up to two years. No sulphur is used during this process and only at bottling is the smallest amount added.

*N.B. The geological terms and explanations (not my attempt at humor) are taken from an amazing book titled Reading the Rocks by Marcia Bjornerud.

Read Catherine’s comments in the Languedoc Vintage Reports


The Presbytère is 80% Grenache with the remainder a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre.


The Montfalette is 80% Mourvèdre with the rest a blend of Syrah and Grenache.


The Cabretta is a blend of Roussane, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris.

Region: Languedoc-Roussillon

Vineyards of antiquity – if any viticultural region of France has claim to being the oldest, the Greek vineyards around Agde that date to the 5th century BC and the discovery of pre-historic fossils of grapevines in caves outside of Montpellier give the Languedoc quite the hand to play. Geographically, this expansive area reaches from Limoux to Costières de Nîmes linking the appellations of Southwest France with those of the Rhone Valley. It is sandwiched between the Massif Central mountains, the Pyrénées mountains, and the Mediterranean Sea.  Not surprisingly, the varied areas of the Languedoc have strikingly different terroirs with vineyards pushing up against mountain ranges with vines as high as 500 meters, vines planted along the Mediterranean coastal plains and seemingly endless scrubland in between. In addition to a range of terroirs that span geological periods from the primary to the quaternary, and include virtually every soil type found in France, there are significant differences in rainfall, humidity, sun-hours and wind that shape the typicity of the individual vineyards...

Known for producing massive quantities of “vin ordinaire” in the mid nineteenth century, the Languedoc vineyards, like so many others throughout France, were wiped out by phylloxera by the end of the century. Despite the efforts of the government and the growers to form coops in the first half of the 20th century, the vineyards were slow to come back, and it wasn’t until the 1970’s and 1980’s that the Languedoc renaissance came about. Now, it is certainly a breeding ground for alternative minded vintners; the spirit of independence coming probably from the Occitan roots of the region and the fact that the area lagged behind other wine producing regions in receiving recognition for its wines.

It is a region that with few exceptions has significantly less rain fall than other wine producing regions in France, making it easier to farm organically. Furthermore, the Languedoc vintners have turned to both bio-dynamic farming and “natural” winemaking in surprising numbers. These choices have been encouraged by the comradery and solidarity that is evident among the local vintners of each village.