Going Big in France’s Pic Saint Loup

Richard Mousties at Domaine de Morties

Domaine de Mortiès made a big impression–literally–long before I met the winemakers and tasted their wines.

Located 20km north of Montpellier in a secluded corner of France’s mountainous Pic Saint Loup, Mortiès is run by a laid-back couple who abandoned careers in real estate and software development in 2008, moved to a charming late-eighteenth century farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, and became winemakers. In other words, their old friends all hate them now.

They now manage a 25-hectare organic vineyard comprised mainly of syrah grapes, and just three years into their new life are already producing some truly fantastic wines that I count as some of the best tasted during my whirlwind three-day tour around the region of Languedoc-Roussillon.

More on the wine in a minute.

In addition to picking up a dreamy farmhouse, part of which has been converted into Mortiès’ cave-like tasting room and barrel-aging cellar, and trading desk jobs for a chance to learn, study, and practice viticulture, somewhere along the way Richard Mousties and his wife also brought a huge, lumbering, slobbering, and, yes, adorable great dane into the family.

The Family Dog

He’s big enough for children and short adults to ride him like a horse; his teeth are so strong that we caught him chewing (eating?) large rocks in the farmhouse courtyard. Naturally, once we got over the initial terror of an intimidating grey-haired beast trotting over as we climbed out of the van, conversation focused as much on the gargantuan dog as it did on the Mortiès wines.

That’s not to say the wines are a second-fiddle attraction.

Made from 75% syrah and 25% grenache, aged in oak barrels for 1 year and cement tanks for another, the 2008 Jamais Content, named because Mousties says he’s “never satisfied” with this wine, had our group oohing and aahing over its beautiful ruby-red color, long legs, and heavy tannins. It’s the kind of wine you buy six bottles of on an impulse and later wish you had bought more, but Mousties was simply teasing us as unfortunately the ’08 vintage is sold out (though it looks like magnums are still available).

We later tasted the soon-to-be-bottled Jamais Content 2009 straight out of its cement tank–I think it’ll be a worthy successor. Two more big, complex, drinkable reds, the 2006 L’opportuniste (made from 95% syrah) and 2008 Pic Saint Loup (appealing earthiness, black pepper on the nose, spicy finish) left similarly strong impressions… if ones not quite as big as that left by the grey beast that watched our tasting, from just outside the cellar, chewing rocks.

Domaine de Mortiès is located on Route de Cazevieille, 34 270 St. Jean-de-Cuculles, in the heart of Pic Saint Loup. Visit their website for more information, including hours and directions (you’ll definitely need them).

All photos copyright Brian Spencer

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for the purpose of review by Atout France and the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Tourism Office. While it has not influenced this review, Perceptive Travel believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

About The Author