The story of so many wines of south-west France is intricately tied up with the history of Santiago de Compostela and this is the case with Marcillac. The origins are older of course; the Romans understood the potential of the Douro-like terraces that form the landscape here. But the town of Conques, occupying a pivotal position along the pilgrim's route saw a blossoming in the vineyards of nearby Marcillac. And then in the XIXth century the steel town of Decazeville saw a staggering expansion of the vineyards there.
But then, fortunes changed. First phylloxera then war saw Marcillac all but destroyed. The Teulier family was one of few to own what was left of this once large vineyard.
And so under the drive and guidance of Philippe Teulier, and others, the fightback began.
It was a slow business to start as Marcillac is not easy to plant with vineyards. The terrain is challenging and at high altitude, as is the climate which is continental. Philippe is today one of the largest land holders, now working with his son, Julien. They make red and white but of course the majority is red. Only one red grape variety is planted and this is locally known as mansois, known in Madiran and Cahors as fer servadou, appropriately enough as the soils here are naturally rich in iron.
Marcillac is a mountain wine, closer in style in some ways to many reds produced in Savoie. The wines tend to be light, bursting with raspberry-like fruit and there is always a tannic presence which gives a rustic feel to the wine.
Unquestionably, Marcillac is a great food wine and one of the partners to such staple fare as bangers and mash. Philippe and Julien Teulier farm some 30 hectares of Marcillac, or nearly 20% of the total. The main wine, colourfully called 'Lo Sang del Pais' sees no oak and is bottled after the winter. They also make a more ambitious cuvee of old vines which is aged oak and which we occasionally buy.