Appellation: Costières de Nîmes.
Cuvée: Les Fagnes Blanc.
Grapes: Carignan Blanc 100%.
About: That rare beast, a pure Carignan Blanc that shows off the potential beauty of under-rated, under-appreciated, un-cared for, oft maligned native grape varieties. As we’re fond of pointing out, it’s not a problem with the grape intrinsically, it’s more a problem with the commercial approach to the growing of it. Indigenous grapes are there because they’re adapted to the place and make good wine if cared for by hand. Sylvain’s version expresses a ripe and creamy stone and citrus fruit character with plenty of mineral freshness.
Location: just east of Bellegarde on the plateau of the Costières de Nîmes.
Size: from one parcel of .5 hectare within the 10 hectare holding.
Age: vines planted in 1970.
Soils: deep galets roulés with some limestone and clay, the same as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac and Tavel.
Exposition: basically flat.
Training: although everything was planted in gobelet, much was re-trained to cordon de royat on wire in the 1980’s for the “convenience” of the worker, rather than the health of vine and fruit.
Farming: organic, as above.
Average yield hl/ha: 35.
Climate: Mediterranean with local Camargue water basins adding humidity, sea breezes from south, Mistral wind from north.
Hand harvested into small cases. The whole bunches are pressed direct to tank to settle overnight just to clear the juice a little but without chilling it. Then it was moved to fibreglass to start the fermentation and moved again to a 350 and a 500 litre barrel about 10 days after picking to complete fermentation. The malo is allowed to happen, naturally, of course. The wine isn’t touched until a racking in June prior to bottling. It’s bottled unfiltered except to get rid of gross particles.
Vintage notes 2017
Yield hl/ha: 30
Harvested: August 21.
Bottles produced: 1,800.
Date bottled: 2018-07.
Alcohol: 12.5 %
SO2 Total: 30
Tasting: aromatically, it has a very lovely creamy orange and lemon fruit character offset by a cool mineral spice. Medium light bodied, it has a cool freshness, is very direct and fine and the flavours are very persistent.
Vintage notes 2019
Heatwave year and the third year in a row with a very low yield. So Fagnes wasn’t made, all the fruit went into Pluriel.
Yield: 35 hl/ha
Harvested: early Sept
Bottles produced: 2,000
Date bottled: 2020-03
SO2 Total: 49
Tasting: great balance rich, spicy, lemon and apple fruit with relatively low degrees, cleansing, nice salty finish.
Vintage notes 2020
Very good for both quality and quantity. Good amount of rainfall during winter and spring, normal temperatures during summer with a couple of small but beneficial rainfalls mid July and mid August. Around 750mm in total for year until harvest time, similar to 2018. Some mildew pressure but nowhere to go but to work in the vines so there was no distraction from managing it. Very early harvest, however. One foudre plus a demi-muid.
Yield: 40 hl/ha
Harvested: 15-20 August
Bottles to be produced: 3,000
Date bottled: 2021-06
Tasting: 2020-12-05, rich expressive nose of smokey, peppery, lemon meringue pie, lovely, fresh, creamy palae with chantecler apple fruit, mineral, supple and fine. Bright, vivacious. Super expression of this rare but returning to popularity grape.