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Online Wine Shop  >  Wines by grower - alphabetical  >  Terre Inconnue - Languedoc VdT (biodynamic)

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Terre Inconnue
Terre Inconnue
Robert Creus (pronounced "Cruise"), works for the French Chamber of Commerce. He is actually an experienced scientist, having been heavily involved in the Ariane space rocket programme. Whilst continuing in his main career, he also began making some wine in 1997, having bought some old Carignan vines. He has since added Grenache, Syrah, Serine (a northern Rhone variant of Syrah) and a little Tempranillo, all in excess of 30 years old, in several small plots near the villages of Saint-Christol, Saint-Geniès-des-Mourgues and Restinclières. One plot of Carignan is in excess of 70 years old (see the picture below). The total area under vine is just 4 hectares - and with yields of between 10 and 25 hl/ha (depending on the vineyard), it doesn't take a mathematician to work out that there isn't much wine to go around.

The work in the vineyards throughout the growing season is minimal, aside from a certain amount of green harvesting (resulting in just 4 or 5 bunches per vine) and no treatment (organic or otherwise) are used. Robert employs a dozen or so amateurs for the grape picking, at a rate of around 1.6 tonnes per day. He says that the harvest is "sober until noon, but after that I can guarantee nothing"(!) Around 80% of the grapes are de-stemmed, and maceration/fermentation lasts for between 3 and 5 weeks. The use of sulfites is minimal, with just 5 mg per litre added before fermentation, and none thereafter. The free-run wine is then mixed with the pressed wine and placed into old oak barrels and aged for 2 years. The finished wines are then transferred to tanks for at least 2 weeks to settle, protected by nitogen, after which they are bottled without fining or filtration. Although Robert's farming and winemaking principles are essentially biodynamic, his day job dictates that he bottles when he has the time, irrespective of the prevailing atmospheric pressure or phase of the moon.



We actually first visited Terre Inconnue in the summer of 2010. Having heard so much about the wines (and having recently tasted a 1999 Carignan, which was pretty amazing) I was very keen to taste the whole range. Unfortunately, Robert was working on the day we visited, so his father Lucien (pictured above, showing me around the vineyards) received us at his house in Saint Seriès. Although Robert makes the wines, Lucien himself has more than a little involvement in Terre Inconnue. Indeed, he no longer has room in his garage for his car, since it clearly comprises part of the Terre Inconnue wine store! Lucien is a charming old man, with a real passion for the wine, not to mention a real zest for life and a wicked sense of humour.

Ever since that visit in 2010, we had been trying (but for a variety of reasons failing) to secure some of these wines for our list. Fast-forward to the summer of 2013 and we were invited to a tasting of a variety of wines at the house of a friend and associate of Robert Creus, including several Terre Inconnue wines. Once again, Robert's work schedule meant that he could not be there - but a flurry of correspondence with him at the beginning of 2014 eventually led to him offering us a few cases of several different cuvées! And now we have our proverbial foot in the door, we hope to be able to secure more Terre Inconnue wines in the future.
 
Since Terre Inconnue is essentially a "garagiste" operation, all of the wines are labelled as Vin de Table - mainly because Robert and Lucien cannot be bothered with the bureaucracy involved in applying for appellation controllée (or even vin de pays) status for their wines. Vin de Table is (at least, in theory) the “lowest” denomination possible for wine produced in France. Indeed, until recently, it was not permitted to even show a vintage on the label, although Robert got around that problem by including a code (for example, L:2005) in small print in the bottom right-hand corner of the labels. This no longer poses a problem, as the vintage can now legally be added to the label. Not that such a humble denomination is any indication of the quality of the wines, for although they are not cheap, these are some of the most expressive, concentrated and finely-crafted wines you will find anywhere in Languedoc. Can we sell them? Who knows - but we'll have a damn good try. And if all else fails.... we'll be more than happy to drink them ourselves!

You can read an expanded report on our 2010 visit to Terre Inconnue on the Leon Stolarski Blog.

Terre Inconnue "Sans Nom" 2005 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Sans Nom 2005
Vintage
2005

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 100% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Rack of lamb, rib of beef or rich, hearty stews
Next day
Still good, but best on day 1
Drink Now, or over the next 5 years
This is described by the grower as a "cuvée oxidative". And on first opening, there is perhaps a slightly oxidative quality to it, but it opens-up in double quick time to reveal an impressive array of aromas and nuances - a mix of crystallised and baked red and black fruits, freshly-baked bread, polished leather, meat, sun-dried tomato, incense, curry spices and damp earth. Indeed, over the course of a couple of hours, it grows yet more complex, as does the palate, which is crammed full of  fruit, spices and herbs, rich and warming, with fine, soft tannins and plenty of acidity, making for a powerful but supremely balanced wine. A perfectly mature wine, and a brilliant introduction to the Terre Inconnue style - and because we were able to get some for not much money, so can you! Biodynamic.
Limited stock - maximum 3 bottles per order.

 

Price:  £13.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Terre Inconnue Les Bruyeres 2013 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Les Bruyeres 2013
Vintage
2013

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 50% Carignan, 50% Grenache
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Rack of lamb, rib of beef or rich, hearty stews
Next day
Even better
Drink Over the next 10-15 years
Winemaker Robert Creus advised me to taste and assess this wine over 3 to 4 days, since (at the time of writing - February 2014) it is so young and very recently bottled. I can sort of see why it will take that long to show it's true colours, but I have to say I am loving it from the start! Yes, the tannins are chunky and robust and the acidity is relatively high, but it is absolutely chock full of fresh and pickled bramble and sour cherry fruit, damp earth aromas and flavours that it is hard to resist! Add to that some subtle hints of polished wood and spicy, herby notes, plus of course that utterly wonderful streak of volatile acidity that I love in Robert's wines, and it really is a wonderfully fresh, vibrant, expressive wine. After time in the glass, it also begins to develop some nice floral/violet aromas, which lend a touch of real elegance to the fruit, which is increasingly turns more red (rather than black) by the sip. For the money, this is an absolute bargain, whether you drink it now, or cellar it for 10 years. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £14.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Guilhem 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Guilhem 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes A blend of Grenache, Merlot, Carignan and Tempranillo
Alcohol (a.b.v)
15.0%
Food Roasted or grilled red meats, wild mushroom risotto
Next day
Even better
Drink Now, or over the next 10+ years
An eclectic blend of old-vine Grenache, Merlot, Carignan and Tempranillo, and a big, brooding wine, with tremendous depth and complexity. The nose offers notes of black fruits steeped in eau de vie, leather, tapenade, roasted meat and coffee, not to mention huge wafts of garrigue herbs and burning incense. The palate offers all of this and more, with a combination of fresh and baked fruits and tertiary elements, backed up by robust tannins and a layer of fabulously juicy acidity that builds towards a long finish. Granted it is still very youthful, with a long (10 year - plus) future ahead of it, but it is already offering much pleasure. Brilliant wine! Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £18.79 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Leonie 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Leonie 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 100% old-vine Carignan
Alcohol (a.b.v)
13.5%
Food Roasted or grilled red meats, game, mushroom risotto
Next day
Even better, for 2 or 3 days
Drink Over the next 10-15 years
Initially, the nose is rather subtle, but once it has been exposed to air, it reveals myriad aromas of fresh red fruits, spice, incense and forest floor, with subtle hints of pain au raisin and pot-pourri - complex and expressive, with just a gentle whiff of fine old oak. The palate is equally complex, with spiced red and black fruit flavours mingled with licorice, all-spice and bitter chocolate, plenty of tannic grip and a backbone of juicy, soft citrus acidity, all of which carries through to an exceptionally long, dry finish. This is an utterly brilliant, classic, old-school Languedoc Carignan - indeed ,up there with the very best. Of course, it needs food at the moment (but then what great red wine doesn't?) but it has the structure to age and evolve for at least another 10 years, and probably more. You can keep your over-priced, under-ripe, tannic, charmless Clarets and your soupy Chateauneufs - if I want a spicy, herby, rich, sweet-sour red wine, with robust tannins, juicy acidity, ripe, tangy fruit and complexity by the bucket-load, then this is the sort of wine I want! Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £22.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Los Abuelos 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Los Abuelos 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 100% Grenache (100 year-old vines)
Alcohol (a.b.v)
15.0% (I don't believe it!)
Food Game, red meats, seared tuna, tomato-ey pasta dishes
Next day
Even better
Drink Over the next 10+ years
Once again, it's Grenache Jim (from 100 year-old vines), but not as we know it! And once again, it is crammed full of plum and raspberry fruit, but with perhaps even more elegance and fleetness of foot than its predecessor. This 2012 offers a gloriously complex and intoxicating mix of red and black fruit aromas, with notes of old, polished leather, exotic spices, damp earth and fine eau de vie.  The reason I question the advertised 15% abv is that there is no suggestion of heat or alcohol (other than the wonderful eau de vie note) on the nose - and even less so on the palate. There's a rush of tangy, white pepper-infused sweet-sour red cherry and bramble fruit, but the feel is light and almost ethereal. Yes, there's a healthy lick of gently rustic, tea-like tannin, but there is also a wonderfully mouth-watering and refreshing core of acidity - something that may shock lovers of the slightly soupy, rich southern Rhône style of Grenache, but should appeal greatly to lovers of Burgundy or (dare I say it) Claret. For now, it demands food, and - as luck would have it - we paired it with a Spaghetti Bolognese, and it was the perfect foil for the rich beef and herb flavours and the tangy tomato. That said, it is extremely verstile and would pair equally well with feathered game, red meats, or even a piece of rare-fried tuna. A delicious - and completely different - expression of Grenache, from one of Languedoc's greatest winemakers. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £31.99 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Sylvie 2012 Vin de France
Terre Inconnue Sylvie 2012
Vintage
2012

Region Saint-Sériès - midway between Nimes and Montpellier
Colour/Style Dry red - full bodied, aged in used oak barrels
Grapes 50% Syrah and 50% Sérine
Alcohol (a.b.v)
14.0%
Food Roasted or grilled red meats, game, hard cheeses
Next day
Still really good
Drink Over the next 10-15 years
Sérine is (depending on where you look or who you read) either a particular clone of Syrah or - more likely - the original Syrah, from which other clones were developed. Either way, it seems that many of the Northern Rhône's greatest red wines are based on the Sérine variety and, having become almost extinct in the second half of the 20th century, it's cuttings are now highly-prized by the best growers. And whilst it may still be a relatively rarity in the Rhône, it is even more so in Languedoc, especially old vines like those of Terre Inconnue. Yields for this wine are miniscule, at an average of just 10 hl/ha, and it shows. The colour is a semi-opaque black cherry clour. The nose, whilst initially quite muted, opens-out quickly, to reveal complex aromas of blueberry and bramble, freshly-baked bread, meat/leather and fine eau de vie. It's wonderfully spicy and herby, too, with notes of allspice, fennel and cardamom. The palate is tightly-knit, with a cloak of firm but fine tannins wrapped around a core of ripe bramble, blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with a touch of pepper and spice and a bite of cherry kernel acidity. The finish is long, spicy and tangy, with a cool mintiness at the very end. Don't expect a Northern Rhône-alike with this wine - it is very much a warm climate Syrah/Sérine, with a medium-rich texture, black fruits rather than red, big tannins and a distinctly herby (rather than mineral) quality. At the time of writing (May 2016) it has only just been bottled, so is very much in its primary phase of evolution - a real "velvet fist in an iron glove", if you see what I mean! But there is no doubting that this is a wine of immense structure, which will soften over the next year or two and evolve slowly towards it peak in around 10 years. One for the connoisseur. Biodynamic.
 

Price:  £35.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

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Terre Inconnue Six - Save 10%
Terre Inconnue Six
A specially priced sample case, covering our current range of wines from the brilliant (and biodynamic) Terre Inconnue. The wines in this selection normally retail separately at £137.27. This 6-bottle case is offered at the special price of £123.50 (a saving of 10%). Please note - this offer is limited to one per customer. The selection comprises the following wines;

1 x Les Bruyeres 2013 Vin de France
1 x Sans Nom 2005 Vin de France
1 x Guilhem 2012 Vin de France
1 x Leonie 2012 Vin de France
1 x Los Abuelos 2012 Vin de France
1 x Sylvie 2012 Vin de France
 

Price:  £123.50 (Including: VAT at 20%)

Quantity:


Mailing list
Our list is constantly evolving, so if you would like to receive our occasional e-mail newsletter (around 8 times per year) click the logo >>>>


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Minimum order value, delivery charges, times and restrictions
We deliver only to UK and Northern Ireland addresses. The minimum order value is £75 (plus the delivery charge). You may of course choose a mix of any wines in our range. Orders between £75 and £200: delivery charge is £7.50. Orders over £200: delivery is free! (If your order is over £200, please remember to change the delivery charge in checkout to £0.00). Please note: Delivery to non-mainland addresses (Scottish Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, etc.) is usually possible, but may not be on a next-working-day basis. It is also more expensive than delivery to mainland addresses, so will be charged at cost (for orders under £200) but with a small discount for orders over £200 - please call us for a quote.

Warning - you must be aged 18 or over
It is an offence to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol if you are under the age of 18. (Section 149 Licensing Act 2003).We reserve the right to seek proof of age. Leon Stolarski says "drink less, but drink better!" Please consume alcohol in moderation.