Rising up from the plains towards the mountains of the Parc Naturel Regional du Haut-Languedoc to the north, the vineyards are surrounded by increasingly verdant scrubland covered by chestnut, hazelnut and cherry trees and green oaks.
The garrigue, as it known, gives the area its complex nose – a wonderful combination of mimosa, almond and peach blossom, blackberries and wild roses along with the herbal aromas of fennel, rosemary, juniper, lavender and thyme. It truly is a feast for the senses, alive with rummaging wild boar and soaring birds of prey.
Standing amongst the vines, the view stretches from Mont St Clair at Sete to the East, along the salt marshes and beaches of the Mediterranean coast, round as far as the snow-capped peak of Canigou in the Pyrenees, with the Caroux mountains to the north always as the backdrop.
Vines have been cultivated in the region since Roman times, notably with the development of the Via Dolomita linking Gaul with Hispanica, a tradition built on by Benedictine monks around Saint-Chinian through the middle ages. The hills surrounding the estate are covered with ancient, overgrown stone terraces bearing witness to this long history of viticulture.
The beautiful, gnarled old vines of Domaine La Lauzeta spread across 23 hectares of schist slopes at 200–300 metres above sea level, with yields naturally low due to the inhospitable nature of the soil.
Varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault Vine age: 20–80 years Planting density: 3,400–5,000 plants per hectare
Climate & Geology
The river and the mountains provide a refreshing influence during the long, hot and dry summers, which turn into mellow and mild autumns. The vineyards are also cooled year-round by the fierce northerly Transmontagne wind and occasional heavy rains brought by the humid Marin wind from the Mediterranean during the short but sometimes sharp winters.
The stony and acidic soils of these hillsides were formed by enormous geological events going back as far as the Cambrian period over 500 million years ago resulting in the metamorphosis of sedimentary clay rock into thick veins of schist. Over time this has eroded, leaving fractured soils at the surface, with a patchwork of clays and even marls, gneiss, quartz and calcareous dolomite beneath. This geological complexity provides soils at once deep, porous, free-draining, well-aerated and, critically in area prone to low rainfall, just sufficiently water retentive for the deep-rooted vines to persist. The schist across the estate varies quite dramatically from dark grey, almost slate-like, in some plots to browner shales, sandstone and old quartz in others.
Saint-Chinian is situated to the north-west of Beziers, incorporating 20 villages with vineyards planted at an altitude of between 100-400 metres, across some 3,200 hectares. It attained AOP status in 1982 for its red and rosé.
In 2005, the communal appellation of Saint-Chinian Roquebrun was established – with tighter restrictions, requiring lower yields and longer maturation – for 400 hectares of vines in four villages, including Saint-Nazaire-de-Ladarez, in the foothills of the mountains surrounding the valley of the River Orb.