My tour of the winery was lovely. On the way in, I observed and took photos of the vineyards with their very small tightly spaced vines in the stony soil. Once at the winery, I was taken on a private tour of the cellar with all of the processes explained, and then tasted through the two recent vintages of whites and reds, as well as one special taste of a 1991 Chat. La Nerthe Rouge. It was spicy and earthy with cloves, and amazingly made of 42% Mouvedre. I ended up purchasing the 2003 (2005 had not yet been released in reds), because it was much more approachable than the 2004’s – and I couldn’t afford the older vintages that were available.
Probably the most surprising fact about the wines were how different the composition of each vintage. Obviously by law, they can use 13 different grapes, but it is QUITE different based on the year. For example, the 2003 which I purchased was 47% Grenache, 26% Syrah, 20% Mouvedre, 5% Cinsault, and 2% other grapes. 64% of the wine went through pigeage (punch downs); fermentation and extended maceration lasted 17 days, with 35% being aged in oak, 54% in foudres (large oak tanks) and 11% in cement tank. These numbers change dramatically – depending on what is needed for each vintage. The very high end wine – Cuvee des Cadettes – which starts at $60 Euros and up, is aged 100% in oak barrels which are about 30% new. My visit was very pleasant and I was given a gift of the chateaux olive oil when I departed.