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Côtes du Brian, St Jean de Minervois, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
100% Carignan [ 100+ year-old vines]
Nicole grew up in Narbonne, with her ‘accent du SUD’, her laugh, her contagious enthusiasm. John, came to St Jean de Minervois from much farther west, the land of horses and bourbon, Kentucky.
In 1996, this sud French girl convinced her southern bred boy that the white rocks of St Jean were the most beautiful rocks in the world.
It was a real life choice, giving up the pleasures of the wide world for an arid rocky plateau and a village of 49 souls. But it was the choice of a Terroir, white phonolithic gravel and it was a choice that’s made so much difference.
The rocky land immediately brought to mind thoughts of moonscapes. The wines might be considered lunar in their minerality, some might even suggest lunatic...but always delicious.
Carignan is a red grape variety of Spanish origin that is more commonly found in French wine but is widely planted throughout the western Mediterranean and around the globe. Along with Aramon, it was considered one of the main grapes responsible for France's wine lake and was a substantial producer in jug wine production in California's Central Valley but in recent years, it has been reborn as a flagship wine for many cellars in the south of France as well as in Catalonia.
The vineyards benefit from ample summer sunny days and a cooling breeze blowing down off of the Montagne Noire at night. The terroir is very stony, clay limestone soil, 8.5 hectares on the 260-300 metre altitude.
The domaine is worked organically (Ecocert) with respect for the terroir, without herbicides, with care for the preservation of soil life. Weed control is by hand and with our w ell-aged mini caterpillar tractors. Each head pruned vine is given particular attention during the summer as shoot selection, leaf-removal, bunch thinning, and rigorous field-sorting when we finally pick let us bring in grapes that are as ripe and perfect as possible. Pickers throw any grapes not good enough to eat on the ground. Yields 22 hl/ha.
• Hand-picked grapes in 15kg boxes
• Sorted in vines to eliminate all but perfectly ripe and healthy grapes
• Traditional fermentation and aging for 12 months in french demi-muids
• Indigenous yeasts
• Production : 2800 btls