Appellation: Costières de Nîmes
Cuvée: Les Fagnes
Grapes: Carignan 70%, Syrah 30%.
About: A revelation of the splendors of Carignan in the Southern Rhône, this is Sylvain’s more serious version of his preferred grape, aged in oak, until 2015 barrique, from 2016 in foudre and released when ready for drinking rather than rushed to market.
Location: just east of Bellegarde on the plateau of the Costières de Nîmes.
Size: from several parcels within the 10 hectare holding.
Age: Carignan planted in 1963, Syrah planted in 1995.
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.
The fruit is hand harvested into small cases. De-stemmed but not crushed. Using natural yeasts, whole berries are fermented in enamel tank, without addition of sulfites and without temperature control. Ambient means around 25ºC. A tiny dose of sulfur is added after malo and before bottling. Total cuvaison or time on skins 5 to 10 days, depending on the tank.
After pressing the wine was put in oak, 2/3 in barriques and 1/3 in demi-muid, both 7 to 8 years old. 2015 would be the last vintage to be aged in small oak. Future vintages will be aged in foudre and egg for more fruit purity. 2016 aged in a new Alsation foudre and wears the oak a little at first but will settle in bottle.
It was bottled under cork without fining or filtration, other than a gross filtration to remove large particles.
Vintage notes 2015
Yield: 35 hl/ha.
Harvested: September 6 & 7 .
Bottles produced: 6,000.
Date bottled: 2016-07.
Alcohol: 13.5 %
SO2 Total: 35
Tasting: savoury yet juicy, medium-full bodied wine with lovely aromas of polished leather, violets, red cherry, black pepper and almond paste, with firm tannins back and side, gentle, quite cool, elegant.
Vintage notes 2016
The style evolves again as this year is part aged in a new 15hl foudre instead of demi-muid which gives a different sensation of oak, very well integrated, very fresh and lively. The blend was the foudre and two demi-muids.
Yield: 35 hl/ha.
Bottles produced: 5,000
Date bottled: 2017-07
Alcohol: 14.58 %
SO2 Total: < 10
Tasting: gentle and pure, very rich cassis fruit, clear, elegant, medium-full bodied, evolves nicely with aeration. Persistent. Interesting numbers with quite high alcohol and no sulfites added.
Vintage notes 2017 to 2019
Not produced. Due to very low yields, drought in 2017, mildew in 2018, sunburn in 2019.
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 only of Fagnes.
Yield: 40 hl/ha.
Harvested: August 25-30
Bottles to be produced: 2,100
Date to be bottled: 2021-06
Tasting: 2020-12-05, very clear and pure raspberry fruit, mineral, some beef bone, a touch vegetal, very fresh, relaxed, chewy finish.