Domaine du Cros

Philippe Teulier
Julien Teulier

The appellation of Marcillac is located in the western part of the Auvergne, nestled in the mountain range known as the Massif Central. The vineyards lie along steep slopes in a remote valley that offers a beneficial micro-climate. The valley draws warm and dry air from the Mediterranean during the summer and fall while also sheltering the vineyards from the harsh winters. The history of the vineyards is closely aligned with the Abbaye at Conques whose monks recognized the valley’s potential and planted vineyards in the area beginning in the 10th century. Centuries later, it was the bourgeoisie from the nearby city of Rodez who took an interest in the vineyards. These city folks greatly expanded the vineyards and built themselves summer homes in the surrounding villages. The devastating effect of phyloxerra at the end of the 19th century and the economic problems of the early 20th century led to the great abandonment of the vineyards. During this period, the region steadily depopulated with many “Auvergnats” going to Paris and finding work in the restaurant trade. Over time, many of them opened their own bistros which became an important customer base for the farmers back home who were reconstituting the Marcillac vineyards. The local grape of the area is Fer Servadou, called locally, Mansois. In the local dialect, Occitan, it was called Saoumences, which is interesting because of the last part of the name being similar to Mencia, or the Spanish name for Cabernet Franc. In fact, the Cabernet Franc and Fer Servadou are both part of the Carmenere family of grape varieties. There is some speculation that because the Abbaye of Conques was an offshoot of the Abbaye at Cluny, the 10th century vineyards were probably planted with Pinot Noir.

Domaine du Cros, with its 33 hectares, is the largest independent producer in the appellation and Philippe Teulier and his family have been instrumental in reestablishing the reputation of Marcillac’s wines. Philippe Teulier’s vines lie at elevations as high as 450 meters on a few different hillsides that surround the village of Clairvaux. Much of his vineyard is terraced and the soil is an iron rich clay known locally as “rougier” with outcroppings of limestone. His wines are made from one grape type, the local grape of Marcillac, Fer Servadou.

Read Philippe’s comments in the Southwest Vintage Reports

Lo Sang del Pais

“Lo Sang del Pais” translates as “the blood of the countryside” and one can easily feel the life-force of this wine. The grape bunches are hand harvested and after being de-stemmed they are fed into fermentation tanks using gravity flow. The “cuvaison” lasts 21 days with the juice being pumped over the cap during the first 6 days. The wine is aged for 6 months in large oak and chestnut barrels which range in age up to 200 years old. The wine has a bright violet color and aromas of wild red fruit and pepper which follow through on the palate with freshness and vibrancy.

Cuvée Vieilles Vignes

The Cuvée Vieilles Vignes is made from a few parcels of vines that average over 80 years of age. The parcels are mostly on the upper elevation slopes with limestone soil. The fermentation is carried out at a slightly warmer temperature than the regular cuvee and the maceration is extended to 5 weeks. The wine is aged in large oak and chestnut barrels for at least a year before bottling. The “Vieilles Vignes” has added weight and breadth on the palate and benefits from at least 3 to 5 years of bottle age.

Lo Sang del Pais Rosé

Domaine du Cros produces a small amount of “Lo Sang del Pais” Rosé almost every year. The wine is basically a rosé version of the red wine. The grape bunches are hand harvested and after being de-stemmed they are fed into fermentation tanks using gravity flow. After a day or two, some free run juice is drawn from several different tanks and assembled into a stainless-steel tank to ferment at a low temperature. The wine remains in tank until March/April when it is bottled. It has a remarkably vibrant and bright color and aromas that are reminiscent of the red wine with red fruits enhanced by iron and pepper.

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.