who grows the grapes at Domaine Sainte Croix? who makes the wines?
what wines do they make at Domaine Sainte Croix?
At Candid we have their old vine Carignan, aged in neutral oak, which is a powerful expression of 100+ year old vines. We also have a tiny amount of the Aramon, a wine that challenges perceptions of what southern France can produce with it’s Piedmont like rose petal finish. Le Fournas blends Carignan with Grenache and Syrah in a versatile, inexpensive bottling while La Serre blends Grenache Blanc and Gris as a white entry into the estate.
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when did Domaine Sainte Croix start? when might you open a bottle?
Jon and Liz bought the estate precisely because of the potential of these older vines. The fruit the vines yield, particularly in the case of the Carignan, has both density and acidity, meaning they can be paired with more than simply red meats as one might expect for sunny, southern French reds. In fact, our friends at Autre Monde in Berwyn served Le Fournas with a smoked Mackerel and lentil dish that blew us away.
where is Domaine Sainte Croix?
The wind is a startling aspect of this terroir. Vines and trees seem to point the way to the ocean, bent as they are from the gusts out of the north and west that rush to the water. At the Col de Feuilla, the saddle that separates Corbières and appellation of Fitou and serves as the last break between inland and the ocean, it can be hard to ride one’s bicycle downhill when the wind is coming the other way so powerful are the gales. The result is a near constant drying force on the vines which drives vine roots deep in search of water.
why is Domaine Sainte Croix a Candid Wine? why might you want a taste?
We think they present a compelling picture of some of the oldest vines one can find in one of the most rural areas of France that we have visited. Carignan and Aramon planted between 1900 and 1920 make for unique wines unlike most that you will encounter from Languedoc.
how is the wine made at Domaine Sainte Croix?
Native yeasts, stainless steel, neutral oak, and gentle extractions all contribute to Jon’s efforts to preserve the unique character of each small parcel he farms. The Fournas, their first tier red blend, is fermented and aged in concrete tanks, while the Carignan is fermented in oak barrels of no less than three wines, meaning that much of the oak character has been diffused into the three wines that came before.
As he has worked with the fruit over the past five years, Jon has become more and more gentle and non-interventionist, finding that the less he adds, the more the wines seem to express. Tasting with him through barrel samples his fascination for the combination of weight and natural acidity of Carignan comes through clear as day and he talks at length of a continuing evolution in the way he approaches the fruit from each plot.
In the video below, Jon talks about punchdowns and pumpovers as relate to making red wines. The specific details are perhaps less important than Jon’s general approach and evolution which is conveyed in this piece :