Trade
 
 

      he Estate

 

From 2005 to date, we embarked upon a major restructuring of the domaine.

 

Our first objective was to obtain maximum vineyard balance and thereby obtain the highest wine quality that the site could deliver.

 

We reviewed the estate design in order to update the vines and improve viticultural techniques.

 

We conducted a soil survey in order to determine the nature of the underlying layers and their micro-floral and organic composition.

 

Consequently, 6 hectares (15 acres) of vines were ripped out and replanted with 4 different grape varieties, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Grenache Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

 

These were planted in high-density rows of 1.60m as opposed to the more conventional 2.50m width rows in the Languedoc, with 0.80m between each vine plant, against the usual 1m. This gives an average of 8000 vine plants per hectare which results in high fruit concentration. Given the nature of our soil, this has also enabled us to obtain optimal balance between the vine’s root system and its canopy. The reduced distance between the rows has also helped to improve the canopy microclimate, by providing both shade in our sun-drenched climate and windbreak action.

 

The Estate

 

We also introduced drip irrigation, using water from our well and from the domaine’s natural spring sources. Irrigation is only used when absolutely necessary and in all cases under strict legislation. This allows us to seek balance in the vines, by maintaining the wine water status at levels that do not stimulate vigorous growth but avoid high hydric stress which is detrimental to the quality of the wine.

 

The Winery

 

It was also vital to us to have a tool in which to make the wine. We are proud to have created a fantastic new winery with its striking architectural design. It is both functional and beautiful, and allows us to be experimental and audacious in our winemaking. The winery is now up and running and 2011 marked the first harvest in Sainte Cécile.

 

The winery has been designed to allow maximum flexibility. It has been fitted out with 12 small cement vats, which are, by nature not hermetic and therefore, much like oak, allow micro-oxygenation between the juice and the the outside atmosphere. With a capacity varying from 18 to 45hl, we use them for vinifying each vine plot separately (sélection parcellaire). It is fascinating to identify the character of each plot of land, where each grape variety can express its own personality within the estate, depending on soil, topography, climate exposure and age.

 

The Winery

 

We use small French oak barrels (225 litre barriques) to age some of our red wine grapes. We only use the barrels for 2 vintages in order to ensure balance, efficiency and hygiene. The results are exciting because like in cement, the wine profits from the micro-exchange of oxygen. The demi-muids oak barrels (600l capacity) are used to vinify and age part of our white wine, providing richness and complexity, whilst enhancing fruit flavours and aromas.

 

Soil

 

The diversity of the domain’s soil is quite remarkable even from one parcelle to another. The domain’s vines spring from clay-limestone hillside terraces, with sandy and villafranchien soil more down the valley. Numerous stones, fossils, quartz and volcanic rocks can be found in the soil, providing excellent draining qualities and allow the vines to thrive in the temperate climate typical of the Languedoc. The soothing breezes on the hillside not only soften the intense heat of the midday sun but provide natural antiseptics to the plants.

 

The Soil


Pruning

 

We train the vines using the “cordon de royat double” technique, which involves hard cane pruning. This allows us to benefit from the generous Languedoc sunshine whilst containing yield levels and thereby concentrating fruit. This technique offers several advantages: it is respectful of the land and improves air movement through the leaf canopy, thus naturally reducing the risk of rot and disease.

 

Pruning