the domaine

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location

The domaine is found about 20 kilometers north of Carcassonne with its famous medieval walled city. Follow the D118 in direction of Mazamet. The domaine has produced just wine, for a very long time, even if the methods, vines and wines have changed. Of the 125 hectares of the domaine, 21 are vines, the rest being left to nature (heathland, forest). We are also planting more and more young olive trees to accompany the almond trees. It's not a diversification, the aim being aesthetic, reminding us that it is truly a mediterranean climate.

3 photos du domaine

landscape (terroir)

The soil is chalky and often very stony. Find yourself amongst thyme, lavander and a few green oaks standing out above the vegetation. Vines are the only plants that can be cultivated in this soil and climate. the roots push their way through the fossils of marine molluscs to search as deep as possible for the water needed to resist the summer droughts, whilst the leaves capture the sun's rays to turn the sap into the sugary juice stocked in each grape. Not forgetting the winds, east and west, almost always present. The altitude too, (up to 300 meters), which brings a night-time coolness contrasting with the day-time heat, together favouring the ripening, and bringing porth wines with expression and finesse.

grapes (cépages)

We produce mainly red wine, but also a little rosé and white. Since 1990 we have planted syrah, cabernet-sauvignon, grenache and cabernet-franc with which to make our wines. Of the older vines, only the grenache has been kept, as it does not lose its quality; also a few rows of hundred year old aramon, carignan and other classics kept for more sentimental reasons...

the vines

Planted in straight or curved rows, 2 to 2.5 meters apart, depending on the lie of the land. They are supported by wires which help them grow high enough for the leaves to get plenty of sun, letting the grapes hang below. The soil is turned between the rows, spraying is kept to a minimum, and organic matter spread as necessary, to yield between 20 and 45 hectoliters per hectare, depending on the age and situation of the vine. It's enough to help nature just a little for the vines to give the best fruit possible, without which we would be unable to make good wine, as it's the quality of the grapes that produce the quality of the wine. The wine producer is not a chemist, especially on our domaine, capable of correcting any deficiencies or faults in the raw materials. Contrary to general opinion, the vines keep us busy all year long. Pruning takes place when all the leaves have fallen, an important task which forms the shape of each plant, but also determines the quantity and therefore the quality of the grapes. This long job takes place over several months during winter. Vines have a relatively short and rapid vegetation season, spring until midsummer, requiring all our energy to try and keep up with the growth; lifting the wires, cutting down suckers, removing excess bunches of grapes, working the soil, protective spraying ... Finally, in August, there's a period of relative calm. There is also work in the "cave" all year round, not just on rainy days, because the wine also needs attention.

the harvest

Vendanges à Cabrol

The "vendanges", or grape picking, a highlight of the year, starts in early September for the white, and late September till mid October for the red. It's a busy time in the vines and the cave, the culmination of months of hard work and nature's gift. Each year is different, giving character to the wine.

the wine making

Red wine

The grapes are harvested by "cépage" and by plot of land, which explains the numerous cuves, or vats, in the cave. The grapes are mostly de-stalked, and left in cuves for a period of 3-4 weeks. The sugary juice turns slowly into alcohol with the help of yeast, and is enriched by the skin, which gives not only the final colour, but also the aromas and flavours. We help this process along using simple classic methods (pumping the juice back over the grapes).
A part of the Syrah undergoes carbonic maceration, an ancient method which consists of leaving whole bunches of grapes in a closed cuve, producing carbon dioxide from the fermenting juices. The fermentation happens inside the whole grapes due to enzymes present in the fruit. This method, though simple, is a delicate operation, but compensated by the intense aromas produced.

Décuvage de la syrah maceration carbonique

After about a month of maceration, the juice is allowed to run out of the cuve into another, and the remaining matter is pressed to give a different kind of wine. They may be mixed later on, depending on their quality.
A second fermentation occurs, called malo-lactic, which transforms the malic acid into lactic acid (less strong), caused by naturally occurring bacteria present in the wine. After that the wine is stabilized, but there is still a long way to go before bottling.

White wine

Normally the grapes are pressed directly after the picking. White wine can be made with red grapes; as there is no maceration juice doesn`t take the colour of the skin. At the domaine, we use white grapes, and leave them to macerate for about 24 hours before pressing. The juice is chilled to clear it. Once separated, the clear juice ferments at a controlled temperature (16-24°C) for several days. There is no malo-lactic fermentation for our white wine, to guard its freshness.

Rosé

How is Rosé made, by mixing white and red?
It's a question often asked, and no, it's not a mix, but made by a short maceration of a few hours to give the juice a colour, then the pressing, and finished the same as the white. For us, the grapes used being very ripe and coloured, the maceration during pressing is enough to make the juice a rosé.

the élevage (resting)

The vinification and the resting is done in cuves. A small part of our wine is put into wooden barrels. We use oak barrels of 600 liters for the best of the red and part of the white. The aim not being to make a woody wine, but for the slow oxygenation, we have chosen the larger barrels.

assemblages (the mixing)

The fermentation finished, the wines rested, the mixing of the different cepages takes place in several stages. Tastings take place all year long to determine the correct amount of each "ingredient" to make the best wines possible. In this way, a large part of the red wines will not be bottled for at least two years.

bottling

This takes place on a specially equipped lorry that comes to us several times a year. The wine passes through a filter before being bottled. The rosé is usually bottled in spring. The white, a table wine because Cabardès does not recognise white wine, can be bottled at the same time, or later in the year.

marketing

It's not enough just to make the wine, it must be sold as well. Our wine is distributed to wine sellers all over France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland... Of course, you can buy our wine directly from us at the domaine, or we can send it by courier (only in France).

the team

We don't like to talk about ourselves much, but as we should be introduced, we'll do it simply :

Claude

Claude Carayol, passionate owner, took possession of the domaine in 1989. 

Hervé

Hervé Riva, employee since 1990, our expert in the cave.

Sally

Sally King, employee since 2002, originally from England, has made her roots in Cabardès.

welcome to the Cave

Blanc rouge rosé

If you would like to know more, then you are welcome to come and try our wine. We would be happy to give you a tasting (see opening hours on our page "contact/location". One of us will be happy to receive you (English speaking by appointment).

For groups, see "oenotourisme" on our page "Cabardès". We also offer walks through the vines, and tastings direct from the cuves.

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