Domaine La Croix Chaptal - Wonderful Wines from Les Terrasses du Larzac

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A little over a year ago, Charles Pacaud and his fellow neighbouring vignerons in theTerrasses du Larzac received AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée) status from the Comité National de l’INAO, the French governing body that regulates the designation of special sites for agricultural products. This is the first red wine area in all of the Languedoc region to attain this distinction (the white wine area of Picpoul de Pinet received similar status two years ago). All to confirm what those of us who have been enjoying Charles’ wines for years already knew – very special wines come from Domaine la Croix Chaptal in the Terrasses du Larzac.

We think highly of the wines from Domaine La Croix Chaptal. The Les Sigillées Rosé is a very special rosé with great complexity; the old vines Clairette du Languedoc Blanc is an equally enchanting wine; the Terrasses du Larzac Rouge is a lovely, lightly oaked, ready to drink crowd pleaser, and; the maestro’s “Cuvée Charles” Rouge is very special and simply delicious.

Côteaux du Languedoc – Les Terrasses du Larzac

The Côteaux du Languedoc, part of the huge Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France (producing more wine than Australia or Bordeaux), is itself a large and varied wine area that fans out from Montpellier near the Mediterranean up to the Massif Central. As Paul Strang notes in his excellent book, ‘Languedoc-Roussillon, The Wines and Winemakers’, “Certainly the most diffuse and varied appellation of Languedoc-Roussillon, Côteau du Languedoc is an amalgam of vastly differing landscapes and terroirs; the wines made there are equally diverse in style. But in each region there is bound to be a handful of growers succeeding in making some of the best wine of the south.”

While wine grapes have been cultivated in the area since Roman times, it was the Benedictine Monks who really developed the reputation of the Languedoc from the tenth to the nineteenth centuries. For trivia fans, here is how the area got its name. Languedoc describes the division between southern France where yes was “Oc” and the north where yes was “Oïl” which became “Oui”. It simply means the place where they say Oc!

Enjoy the Languedoc, from Andrew Jefford: Decanter January 2009 (pg 21)
"...Geologically, the Languedoc hills are a synopsis of everything which makes France so propitious for winegrowing... Surely in any other country, those Languedoc hills would have been a star region; their misfortune was to find themselves sharing a nation with Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire and the Rhône. And too far from Paris. But where is the best spot in the Languedoc? My theory is that Terrasses du Larzac is the greatest spot in the Languedoc... Stone and slopes alone don't make for great wine - as much of Provence proves - but when skilled winegrowers grapple intelligently and sensitively with nature here, the results seem to me to have the same aromatic, textural potential as the best of the Rhône..."

Domaine La Croix Chaptal
Charles and Huguette with your tireless tippler!
Domaine La Croix Chaptal can be found near a hamlet called Cambous which is located 30 kilometres north-west of Montpellier. The estate dates from at least 1826 where it was listed in the area’s first land registry as part of the Seigneurie of Cambous owned by Edouard Auguy de Vitry, a lawyer in Gignac. He built the existing cellar and festooned it with the Croix du Languedoc, enhanced by a heart which gives rise to today’s name of the estate. Charles and his wife Huguette purchased the property from Auguy de Vitry’s descendants in 1999 and have been restructuring, restoring and expanding it ever since.

The estate consists of 23 hectares of vineyards (half with vines over forty years old), 15.5 hectares of which are in the appellation Terrasses du Larzac. There are a further 10 hectares of woods sprawling over the slopes leading to the Terrasses du Larzac. Large pebbles and gravel are the main components of the poor soil that is naturally drained on the hill-tops and plateau that are constantly swept by those pesky winds, the Mistral and Tramontane. But, it is ideal for grape vines. The Syrah thrives on the cold clay soils while the Clairette du Languedoc, (the grape of the renowned local white wines) Grenache and old Carignan develop to their full potential on the warmer soils.

Charles was born in Cognac and studied viticulture and oenology in Montpellier. Before creating Domaine La Croix Chaptal, Charles worked for several wine companies in the UK, USA and France that are known for their innovative spirit and modern wine-making techniques. He has combined this experience with a healthy appreciation for traditional practices to produce truly remarkable and enjoyable wines.

It would seem that Huguette, now a special educator in Montpellier, also has wine flowing in her veins. Her maiden name is Chaptal and her relative, Jean-Antoine Chaptal developed the process of chaptalization whereby sugar is added to unfermented grape must in order to increase the alcohol content after fermentation.

Charles’ Wines on Offer makes very good, very serious wines from the best part of the AOC Côteaux du Languedoc - Les Terrasses du Larzac. His wines regularly appear in the ‘Wine Spectator’, receiving high eighties and nineties ratings. We have the 2013 ‘Les Sigillées’ Rosé, 2013 Clairette de Languedoc Blanc - Vieilles Vignes, 2013 Les Terrasses du Larzac Rouge and 2010 ‘Cuvée Charles’ along with a six-bottle mixed case of all four and a very special vertical sampler of the 2009 through 2013 ‘Cuvée Charles’. I heartily endorse each of these wines. Have no doubt that I will be ordering some for Arthur’s Cellar. Charles’ wines come in convenient six-bottle cases. These are all terrific and each comes from a very good vintages. We will be taking your orders to the LCBO on Friday, December 4th.

2013 ‘Les Sigillées’ Rosé - 12.5% Alc./Vol.                                       $21/$126 per case of 6 
A full-bodied, smashing rosé made by the saignée method, the 2013 “Les Sigillées” is truly the red wine drinker’s Rosé. This red wine drinker’s rosé is made from 33% Mourvèdre, 37% Syrah and 30% Grenache Gris. Twenty percent is aged in new oak. Yields are about 50 hl./ha. A beautiful vibrant pink, it has full, rich aromas of strawberries, raspberries and other red fruit along with a hint of citrus which carries through to the nice crisp finish  Drinking wonderfully now, it will keep for a couple of years and will go very well with roast pork, ham and Asian cuisine. Latch on to some for yourself.

2013 Clairette de Languedoc Blanc - Vieilles Vignes – 12.5% Alc./Vol.   $23/$138 per case of 6
Made from 100% old Clairette du Languedoc Blanc with a yield of only 36 ha./ha., the grapes are all hand picked and destemmed, pressed and left in contact with the skins for a very short time. It receives traditional vinification on its lees (30% in new oak and 70% in stainless steel tanks). Total production is only 7,500 bottles. A full-bodied, fresh and very clean white wine with tantalizing aromas of white peaches, toasted bread, hazelnuts, almonds and citrus fruit. Very smooth, it finishes with a nice soft citrus aftertaste. It is a great wine to drink alone as an aperitif and will go well with shellfish, fish in white sauce or soft cheeses. It is drinking well now and will evolve to a hazelnut taste in a year or two (it then will go well with white meat accompanied by mushrooms in a white sauce), and later to walnut (then it will go well with a whole range of cheeses). I love this white! Get it while it lasts!

2013 Les Terrasses du Larzac Rouge - 13.0% Alc./Vol.                    $23/$138 per case of 6 
Like all of Charles' wines, Les Terrasses du Larzac grapes are hand-picked and sorted. It is made from 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 30% Mourvèdre with yields between 30 and 40 Hectolitres per hectare. It saw no oak and was neither filtered nor fined. This is a fresh, fruity, dark red wine with aromas of cherries and coffee with a touch of spice. Ready to drink now (but it will keep for several more years), this little treasure will go well with both white and red meats. Only 15,000 bottles made. Order some now.

2010 ‘Cuvée Charles’ Rouge - 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                     $29/$174 per case of 6
This is a truly lovely wine from a wonderful vintage. Made from 35% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and 15% Carignan it was unfiltered and unfined and rested in oak barrels for a full year. The yield was only 29 hectolitres per hectare. It is deep ruby with aromas of raspberries, black berries, wild brush, vanilla, toasted coffee, old leather, earth, fine spice and just a hint of tobacco. It has elegant, complex tannins and a long, lingering aftertaste. It is drinking beautifully now and will age brilliantly for many years. Serve with roasts, game and grilled red meat. Just 10,000 bottles produced. Snag some delightful “Cuvée Charles” now.

Charles’ Terrasses du Larzac Sampler – 12.5%-13.5% Alc./Vol.           $25/$150 per case of 6
You get two bottles each of the 2010 “Cuvée Charles” and 2013 Les Terrasses du Larzac along with one bottle each of the 2013 Clairette du Languedoc Blanc and 2013 Les Sigillées Rosé in one handy six pack. What a great way to taste Charles’ masterpieces. Order yours now.

Cuvée Charles’ Vertical Sampler - 13.5% Alc./Vol.                 $29/$174 per case of 6
Here’s a special treat that Charles has pulled together for us: five consecutive vintages of ‘Cuvée Charles’ – from 2009 to 2013! You get two bottles of our featured 2010 ‘Cuvée Charles’ along with single bottles of the 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. All are delicious. What a great way to discover what effect the climate has on Charles’ elixirs over the span of five years.  Order your wine tasting party in a six-pack now.

Important Note
The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

LCBO Delivery Notices!

The LCBO has started to mail out delivery notices to all our Members who order wine. This notice is being sent when the wine has arrived from overseas and has been cleared for delivery by the LCBO. The form letter is two sided, one with the numeric details of the transaction and the other with pick-up instructions. Please note - the pick-up instructions do not apply to our Members.


First, they instruct our Member to pick up the wine at the LCBO’s warehouse loading docks at 33 Freeland Street in Toronto. Our Members don’t have to do this – we either cause the wine to be sent to an LCBO retail store that is conveniently located near our Member or we personally deliver the wine.

Second, they infer that our Members owe them for the wine and warn that they will be penalized if the wine is not picked up within a prescribed period of time. Our Members have already paid for their wine and don’t owe any additional money. We look after payment for them.

Please disregard these form letters when you receive them.

We have requested that the LCBO either correct the message or not send it at all. We also asked that they send the message electronically (they have the e-mail addresses of everyone who orders) to save money and be environmentally responsible. They have thanked us for our suggestions and we hope they will act on them.

Why is the LCBO sending out these notices?

When we inquired, we were told that this has always been their procedure; they just haven’t been following it.

We can surmise that it is in response to last year’s ruling by the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario (IPC) ruling that the LCBO stop taking personal information from wine club customers. In a subsequent Ontario Superior Court of Justice appeal hearing, the case was remitted back to the IPC for reconsideration, i.e., the LCBO and the other involved parties were told to work out their issues between themselves. A key point in the ruling was, “it is not clear whether the IPC actually made a clear or consistent finding on the issue of whether the LCBO's customer is the club or the club member.” Since then, the LCBO has been determined to make certain that we are all fully aware that it is they who control the customer relationship when it comes to the purchase of beverage alcohol in the Province of Ontario.

To reinforce this point, they have instructed us to prominently post the following wherever we display our prices:

The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

If you have any comments for the LCBO, please address them to Margaret Plant, Supervisor, Private Ordering ( and copy Archie Karanxha, Acting Manager, Specialty Services ( and Geoff Allaire, General Manager Operations, Toronto Retail Service Centre, Vintages Warehouse (

All this reminds me of a very old joke. It seems that a little devil was involved in a most unfortunate tangle with one of Toronto’s Red Rockets that resulted in his tail being severed. He was rushed to the Toronto General Hospital but was refused admission. The ER receptionist explained, “I am afraid you will have to take him to the LCBO ... they are the only ones in Ontario allowed to retail spirits.”

Kate joins the team!
We are delighted to announce that our eldest daughter Kate (shown here with a bottle of Penfolds Grange from her birth year!) has officially joined the Arthur Sellers & Company team. She is an avid wine enthusiast with a very fine palate and is renowned for her frequent thirsty assaults on Arthur’s Cellar. Kate will be assisting us with the day-to-day operation of our wine club and will introduce our fine wines to her market demographic (recognizing that this old tippler needs a little help marketing to the younger aficionados of the fruit of the vine). Please join us in welcoming Kate to our wonderful world of wine.

Where’s My Wine??
Generally, it will take three to four months from the time you order your wine till it is delivered. To find out where your next treasure is on its long journey from Europe, just click on Delivery Status in the side bar to the left. We update it regularly.

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