If you enjoy wild, mountainous country, spectacular scenery, rugged red sandstone buildings and your wines with a real irony ping, then head for Marcillac in the west of the Auvergne, an hour and a half east of Cahors, and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful wine regions in France. Wine was made there as far back as 918, the region's early development owing much to the local Benedictine abbey of Conques whose economical and spiritual influenced reached all corners of Europe. Brothers Vincent and Pascal Laurens and their cousin Eric now farm the 25ha of vineyards established by their parents around the towns of Goutrens, Clairvaux and Valady. 80% of the vineyards are on steep terraces in a purple coloured sandstone rich in iron oxide, which provides the perfect conditions for local grape variety fer servadou – aka mansois – to thrive. In the vineyards they're moving towards viticulture ever more respectful of its environment, planting almond, olive, walnut and oak trees to bring more biodiversity, cultivating various crops between the rows to improve soil structure, and eradicating the use of herbicides on the terraced vineyards.
Marcillac comes from terraced hillside vineyards with extraordinary deep red soil, rich in iron oxide. Medical studies have indicated that Marcillac is particularly good for the heart as it lowers cholesterol.