The terroir

Our wines express the unmistakable terroir of ancient slate soils. The “Monts de Faugères” rock formation dates back 340 million years, to the geological Carboniferous period. It is the same period from which the oldest wine terroirs of Europe hail, in particular those from the Mosel, Priorat, Côte-Rôtie, Burgenland and the Douro Valley.

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The rock of the “Monts de Faugères” is metamorphic and split into intricate layers. The brittleness of the rock makes it possible for the vines to develop a deep root system, enabling them to always find some moisture even during the very dry Mediterranean summers. Like all great vineyard sites, the terroir of Faugères has a balancing effect, resulting in very harmonious wines. The ancient rock of the “Monts de Faugères” is rich in minerals such as iron and magnesium. This gives our wines their distinctive and characteristic minerality. The structure of the rock and the mineral content of the slate varies from one plot to another, giving each wine an individual touch of terroir.

    The shale

    Origin of the slate The slate-rock formations of the Monts de Faugères emerged in the Paleozoic era 300 to 350 million years ago, in the geological carboniferous age. They are part of the several hundred million years old Variscan Mountains of the supercontinent Gondwana, which are still visible on the surface in some parts of Europe today, in particular in western Spain, in the Pyrenees and Cevennes, Brittany and western England, the Ardennes and western mountains of Germany, Bohemia, and in parts of the Swiss and Austrian Alps.

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    There are only a handful of wine growing regions in Europe which are located on primary rock soils slate, granite or gneiss. During the carboniferous area a large number of plants and trees already existed; amongst them the ancestors of ferns, but also the first forms of amphibians and reptiles. The climate was warm and humid.

    Emergence of the slate The slate in Faugères was created by deposits of clay and sand. When the process of continental drift began to take on momentum these sediments were displaced deep underground, where they were transformed under the impact of high temperatures and pressures into granite, gneiss and slate. During the mesozoic era the old layers were covered by marine sediments in the form of limestone, which today dominate the landscape of southern France and large parts of Europe. This is the reason why most wine regions in Europe are located on more recent clay and limestone soils. Later in time the mesozoic limestone layers in Faugères were eroded, and the old slate soils reappeared.

    Peculiarities of the slate The slate rocks in Faugères are, like all primary rock soils, rich in minerals but poor in lime. This is the reason why these soils are acidic and have a low pH. The natural vegetation on acidic slate soils is significantly different than to that on basic calcareous soils. Wild fennel, chestnut trees or ferns are typical plants. The vines also grow very differently compared to calcareous soils, resulting in very different wines.

    Slate has unique large water storing capacities due to the capillary forces in its columns. For the vines this is extremely important in the climate of southern France, as this allows them to always find some moisture even in extreme summer drought.

    The slate differs from one plot to another. In certain plots because of its iron content the slate is reddish, in other places it is rusty brown, greyish, bluish or almost black, depending on the mineral content. Also the thickness and depth of the slate layers varies from one plot to another, which each slate telling a different story from prehistoric times of our planet.

    For winemakers like us, the most interesting and challenging part of our work is to express the slate terroir of each plot to the maximum in our wines.

      The vineyards

      Our vineyards are located a few kilometers west of the village of Faugères, between the hamlets of Lenthéric and La Liquière. Our 9 hectares are located on four hills near one another. Within those hills, starting from the direction of the slope and soil characteristics, we have planted a total of 17 individual plots.

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      The Fruitiers vineyards The vineyards of “Fruitiers” is located at an altitude of 250 meters above sea level. They contain one hectare of 80 years old Grenache and Carignan vines, which are surrounded by old stone walls as well as peach and almond trees. The grapes of this vineyard give particularly mineral and profound wines. On the top of the hill there is another hectare of Carignan which is about 70 years old. At the bottom of the hill, on an easterly exposure we have planted half a hectare of the local Cinsault grape variety.

      The Bouzigues and Jardins vineyards The hill of “Bouzigues” is located besides our “Jardins” vineyards. Its name comes from the ancient occitan word "bodiga", which means “forest clearing”. Here we planted half a hectare of Mourvèdre and another half hectare of Grenache on the south-western facing slope on very poor soils. At the top of the hill there is another half hectare of Grenache. The eastern and northern slope of the hill is cooler and windier and is called “Jardins”, which means “gardens” in French. There we planted two plots of Syrah, both of half a hectare, one on small terraces. The wines from “Jardins” are particularly fresh and elegant.

      The Lentillières and Fenouillet vineyards By going one kilometer north are located the vineyards “Lentillières” and “Fenouillet”. The first name comes from the former prodution of lenses (“lentilles” in French) and the spread of wild fennel (“fenouil” in French). On the sun exposed southwest side of the hill we planted half a hectare of Mourvèdre. On the arid and very windy top of the plateau we planted one hectare of Carignan and half a hectare of Grenache. Surrounding the vineyards, we created two olive tree fields. On the northern and cooler side of the hill there is a small plot of Syrah.

      The Magnoux vineyards The vineyards in “Magnoux” is located another kilometre on north, 400 metres above sea level, and is very close to the Cevennes forests. On the south slope we planted half a hectare of Grenache, on the side facing north half a hectare of Syrah.

      All our work - particularly the pruning of the vines, the use of compost, the date of the harvest, the duration of the maceration during vinification etc. are adjusted each year individually to each plot.