The Mountainous Massif de la Malepère, with altitudes as high as 400 metres over sea level, sits right between the Mediterranean-influenced Languedoc-Roussillon and the French Sud Ouest. Properly still within Languedoc (this is the westernmost appellation in the wine region), Malepère AOC is a fine wine producing area with a unique terroir. With summer temperatures averaging 22°C and mild winters at 6.7°C average, Malepère is a temperate region suitable for producing high-quality vinifera grapes, particularly red grapes of the Bordeaux family.
The mountainous terrain offers diverse microclimates across various communes in the Aude department, all entitled to the Malepère AOC and the IGT Côtes de Prouilhe vin de pays. Established as a VDQS region in 1983, Malepère AOC has its own appellation since 2007. It specialises in wine styles that share more similarities with Bordeaux to the west than with Languedoc itself, where the appellation is established. This makes the appellation unique, as it doesn’t fit with the larger area’s traditional wine styles.
The varied soils in Malepère are often dotted with large stones, that although positive for quality grape-growing, they make the land hard to farm. This is why the French call them 'bad stones' or 'mal pierre' from which the AOC's name derives: Malepère.
As in all quality wine regions in France, strict laws control and protect the Malepère’s wine quality from grape to bottle. Malepère's vineyards are tightly planted with 4,000 vines per hectare, forcing the grape-yielding bushes to dig deep into the soil for nutrients and water. Producers can also only harvest 9,000 kilograms of grapes per hectare, increasing the overall quality of the wine. The grapes are then picked and taken to the winery. Malepère producers can make dry red and rosé wine, and each style requires unique vinification techniques, although they're not unique to the area, the region specializes in traditional winemaking methods but make good use of modern technology.
What is unique to the region is that the wine must be made by blending at least two allowed grapes following specific proportion rules. Malepère specialises in Bordeaux classic varieties, which have always been compatible with each other in a blend. Winemakers have perfected the craft of blending grapes in the area for centuries, meaning Malepère wine is always complex and nuanced. Red wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and can be aged in oak barrels. Rosé is always fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks for a refreshing, fruit-forward summer wine. What differentiates Malepère wines from neighbouring regions is the allowed grape varieties.
Grape Varieties and Blends
Malepère's grape varieties are unique to the Languedoc-Roussillon area, not because they're not used elsewhere but because this is the perfect terroir to ripen Merlot. No other Languedoc region specializes in the thin-skinned grape.
For red wine, at least two varietals must be used, with Merlot making at least 40% of the blend. The rest of the wine can comprise Cabernet Franc and Cot (Malbec) up to 20% each. Accessory varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache and Lladoner Pelut.
Producers must make Rosé wine with at least two grapes with a minimum of 40% Cabernet Franc, with auxiliary varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Cot, Grenache and Merlot. None of which can be higher than 20% of the final blend. The growers must pick and vinify every grape separately, and only until fermented can the winemaker blend the distinct wines to assemble its final blend. The unique use of Merlot and Cabernet Franc over all other grapes in the area is unique to Malepère.
Buy Malepère Wines from Hourlier Wines
Malepère is home to large brands capitalising in the various terroirs in southern France and small, family-owned producers, most going back for generations. Hourlier Wines has developed partnerships with leading, artisanal producers in the Malepère to offer you faithful examples of the unique wine.
One of these producers is Chateau de Cointes. Anne and Francois produce Malepère red and rosé wine under the appellation, but also white wine under the IGT Côtes de Prouilhe vin de pays covering the region.
Grown in the Malepère vineyards but labelled as Vin de pays, this producer makes a gorgeous white wine with 100% the medium-bodied Grenache Blanc. Baked apples, lemon curd and floral notes make the wine appealing, and the textural coating palate makes the wine a perfect pairing of creamy sauces and roasted poultry.
This authentic 100% Merlot from de estate's Malepère vineyards is a modern take to the regions more rustic style. Beautiful black and blue fruit with hints of warm spices allow this mono-varietal wine to pair with lean red meat like fillet mignon.
For Malepère's red wine, this is the real deal. A blend of 50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Grenache Noir, this wine reflects the art of blending in the area. Ripe fruit, cooking herbs and spices come together over a granular palate to be enjoyed with grilled meat, charcuterie and hard cheese.
Where does Malepère wine originate?
Malepère is a 500ha area southwest of Carcassonne in Languedoc-Roussillon. It is the westernmost area in Languedoc and shares similarities with neighbouring Sud Ouest and Bordeaux.
What does Malepère wine taste like?
You’ll find red and rosé wine labelled as Malepère and white wine labelled as the region’s vin de pays: Côtes De Prouilhe. The red wine is rustic and fruit-forward, with complex bouquets and juicy palates. The rosé is light and crisp, while the white wine is fruity, floral and medium-bodied.
Which food groups pair well with Malepère AOC wine?
Red Malepère pairs with red meat, roasted poultry, charcuterie, smoked sausages, stews, meaty soups and hard cheese.
Rosé Malepère is ideal for seafood dishes and light food, like light salads, especially when made with fruit and soft cheese.