Domaine des Terrisses

Brigitte Cazottes
Alain Cazottes

Spread out around the town of Albi, the Gaillac vineyards extend over 73 communes along the Tarn river. The appellation includes significantly different terroirs , the results of different geological strata, which include limestone plateaus, hillside vineyards with limestone and clay soils and alluvial plains with soils of gravel and sand. The climate is more Mediterranean than Atlantic and the vineyards benefit from a warm and dry autumn. The wines have a balance of concentration and restraint that is rare and the appellation’s local grape varieties contribute to the originality of Gaillac’s wines.

Domaine des Terrisses has been the property of the Cazottes family since 1750. Alain and Brigitte Cazottes, like the generations before them, have expanded the estate which now includes 40 hectares of vineyards. In the 1960’s and 1970’s Alain’s father was among a small group of Gaillacois vignerons to produce estate bottled wines which focused on quality and authenticity. Alain and Brigitte continue in the same vein. The vineyard is situated along the “Premiere Cotes” of Gaillac, the hillsides facing south-southwest toward the Tarn River with predominantly clay soils that Alain says are similar to those found in the Medoc. The majority of the vineyard is planted with the traditional grape varieties of the region; Mauzac and Loin de L’oeil for the whites and Braucol, Duras and Prunelard for the reds. The balance is planted with Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. Domaine des Terrisses offers a wide range of wines which is typical of the Gaillac appellation and is a reminder of the region’s long tradition of wine production which predates the Roman conquest two thousand years ago.

Domaine des Terrisses "Caractère" Blanc Sec

The Blanc Sec is produced from blending three grape varieties with the exact proportions varying a bit according to vintage. Typically, it is 60% Loin de L’oeil, 20% Mauzac and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. The parcels selected for the dry wine are planted at the bottom of the vineyard slopes which has a humid and cool microclimate and a fine erosional soil. Juice from the first pressing is used and the fermentation is done in temperature-controlled tanks.

Domaine des Terrisses "Caractère" Rosé

The Rosé is typically produced from a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Braucol and 20% Duras. It is produced by combining two methods of production; “saignée” and “pressurage.” The Syrah, grown on the low lying and cooler part of the vineyard, is harvested early and the grapes are directly pressed “pressurage” before fermentation begins (as is the case with white wine). The Braucol and Duras grapes are crushed after harvest and allowed to macerate for about 12 hours before the free run juice is drawn (“saignée”) from the tank. The varieties are fermented separately at low temperatures and then allowed to settle naturally for 4 months during which period several rackings are done. The wine is then blended and bottled. This rosé has a beautiful color and savory flavors typical of the local Gaillacois varieties and a structure and balance that allows the wine to improve for at least a year.

Domaine des Terrisses "Caractère" Rouge

The Rouge is produced from a blend that is typically 50% Braucol, 30% Duras and 20% Prunelard/Syrah. The red grapes for this cuvee are planted in the mid-slope on soils that are largely erosional, yet have a rich clay component. Each variety is harvested and fermented separately with maceration lasting around thirteen days. During this period, “remontage” (pumping over) is carried out twice daily. Racking takes place during the winter and the blending is done in the spring. The wine is held in tank for a year before bottling.

Domaine des Terrisses "Terre Originelle" Rouge

The "Terre Originelle"Rouge is a cuvée made only in the best vintages and demonstrates that Gaillac reds can develop and improve over many years. The blend varies a bit according to the vintage but is approximately 80% Braucol (Fer Servadou) and 20% Prunelard, a grape variety local to Gaillac and related to Malbec. The parcels of old vine Braucol and Prunelard for this cuvée are planted on the upper slopes, on soils that are mixed limestone/clay. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine is assembled and matured in barrels, 20% new, for one year.

Region: Southwest

The wine appellations of southwest France are spread throughout ten different “départments”. The Romans called the area Aquitania, “land of waters”, and it has been described as the area of few roads but many rivers. This group of appellations is certainly the most far ranging and diverse to be brought together under one geographical umbrella...

Although the area is spread out, it is given contours by its impressive natural boundaries. The great mountain range known as the Massif Central forms the eastern boundary. This vast range gives rise to the Dordogne, the Lot and the Tarn rivers, which flow westward toward the Atlantic Ocean and have been so crucial to the development of the region’s vineyards. The southern extreme is formed by the Pyrénées, the source of the Garonne River whose northern route passes through Toulouse and Bordeaux. The region is met on its western edge by the Atlantic Ocean.

Within the southwest of France there are many cultural and culinary traditions. Around Toulouse one finds a distinctly southern, “Provençal” influence, while the Pyrénées is home to the Basque culture as well as the Béarnaise. Further north one passes through Gascony on route to Bordeaux and Périgord.

When the French talk about abandoning the charms of nouvelle cuisine for good old country cooking or “cuisine du terroir”, the Southwest is the first “terroir” that springs to mind. Not surprisingly, the wines of southwest France also offer a welcome antidote to “nouvelle” wines and we have chosen to work with vignerons who prefer to refine the quality of their traditional wines rather than abandon them. Many of the appellations in the Southwest have ancient and illustrious histories such as the Gaillac vineyards which date back to the Gauls and were widely planted by the Romans in the first century. In the fourteenth century over half the wine shipped from the port of Bordeaux was from the Cahors region. Reflective of the cultural diversity is the diversity of wine styles and grape varieties grown in the Southwest, many of which are particular to their appellations. Red varieties from the Carmenet family such as Fer Servadou, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are grown throughout the region as well as Tannat, Malbec and Negrette from the Cotoïdes family. White varieties of the region include Len de l’el, Mauzac, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. There is a bucolic quality in this corner of France, a quality which is mirrored in the rich tapestry of terroirs and local grape varieties that produce these most savory, delicious and charming wines.