Some 2,000 years ago, Roman soldiers were the first to plant vines in Languedoc. Viticulture has endured over the centuries, and more than two thousand years later, Languedoc is today the largest wine region in the world and offers more than 60 IGP and AOP appellations.
Located in the far west of Languedoc, on the foothills of the Montagne Noire, 10 minutes north of Carcassonne, Château La Villatade consists of an Occitan house, whose construction dates back to the middle of the 17th century, built around a large square courtyard surrounded by its vineyard and 130 hectares of unspoiled nature on gently sloping hills with fields of olive trees, pine forests and scrubland.
A New Life
In the middle of the twentieth century the estate still exploited almost 300 hectares of vines and produced enormous volumes of wine in view of the huge old stone vats still present on the site. In 2016 the vineyard was only 11 Ha.
It was then that Richard and Sophie, his wife, took over the Estate. After 30 years spent in new technologies, they decided to sell their business, to leave their urban lifestyle in the Paris region to live closer to nature, between vineyards and scrubland. Passionate about sustainable development, they fell in love with this magnificent wine estate surrounded by a beautiful wilderness with scents of thyme and lavender. And they wanted their vineyard to comply with the principles of biodynamics: reasoned, clean and environmentally friendly viticulture.
They also carried out major renovation projects on existing buildings used for agrotourism and wine tourism, as well as the complete renovation of the cellar.
The 'Côtes Noires' Terroir
The geographical location of the vineyard, backed by the western part of the Montagne Noire on a series of hills of sandstone, schist or limestone which alternate with terraces of sand, limestone marl and sandstone marl, gave the name to this exceptional terroir: Côtes Noires (Black Hills).
Facing due south and under strong Mediterranean climatic influence, but also oceanic, these harsh and stony soils, with a dry climate, give our Syrah-dominated blends the fruity, spicy and peppery character and generally develop the unique aromatic complexity of our wines.
The geographical location of the vineyard means that the grapes benefit from a significant amount of sunshine, the unique harmony of these natural elements, and also a good richness of water in the basement. The strong presence of the ocean wind actively contributes to the protection of the vines and replaces the best treatments.
Convinced that growing vines in harmony with nature is the best way to bring local wines to the highest level of excellence, restructuring the vineyard was the priority of Richard and Sophie. As soon as they arrived, they began converting the estate to biodynamic farming and reduced yields to 25 HL per hectare, all for the benefit of nature and wine consumers.
Today, the vineyard is cultivated in compliance with the HVE specifications (high environmental value) and the HVE3 certification is in progress. This is the most demanding level of the environmental certification system for agricultural and wine-growing holdings.
The HVE label allows consumers to be sure that the wine they are tasting is a quality wine from clean and environmentally responsible agriculture.
From their first vintage in 2016, the two red Minervois from Château La Villatade called "Côtes Noires" and "Côtes Noires Reserve" named after the terroir, are awarded and medalists. The Minervois Rosé, soberly named "V" from Villatade and "Le Vin de Sophie" (100% Syrah), both won medals, followed the following year.
Now Richard and Sophie take care of the cellar work themselves in order to preserve the unique character of each of their wines. This work begins in the land with the harvest. So, as of September 1st, they will monitor the acidity, PH and sugar of the grapes. And each day they will survey their vines in order to taste the grapes of each plot until they are fully ripe, the tasting of the berries remaining ultimately the trigger for the harvest. Once in the cellar, the grapes are placed in vats by grape variety and by plot, or pressed (for rosé and white wines). A few months later they will decide on the blends by working on adjusting the proportions by grape variety until they obtain the aromas and structure sought for the future wine. Later the wines will be placed in vats or in barrels according to the desired profile, and the aging can last from 45 days to several months depending on the wines.
Minerality and freshness, maturity and generosity, power and structure... the perfect balance of the great wines of Château La Villatade is widely rewarded by the press, connoisseurs and gourmets.
The vineyard is now 16 hectares, and yearly production amounts to around 50,000 bottles in the three colors, mainly AOP Minervois and IGP Pays d’Oc.
The Red Wines of Château La Villatade are created from Syrah and Grenache noir, alone or blended and Merlot, generally alone. They express well the aromatic complexity of the terroir, tender and velvety with aromas of spices and blackcurrant, on notes of prune and undergrowth. Both fresh and voluminous on the palate, they are fleshy but supple, with silky and elegant tannins. They are ready to drink but have also good aging potential (10 to 15 years).
The White Wine (Sauvignon and Vermentino blend) and the Rosé (Syrah Grenache blend) have in common a beautiful minerality and a fruity freshness, a slightly dry side with notes of citrus and exotic fruits for the whites and notes of small wild strawberry and grenadine for Rosés. They are ready to drink.