CATHERINE BERNARD LE CARIGNAN 2017
GENTLE EARTHY INTEGRATED
CLASSIC / ORGANIC BIODYNAMIC / 750ML
The Carignan is sourced from two sites, ranging from 50-100 years old. The wine was macerated for a week with 50% whole bunch and the rest destemmed. The wine undulates from peppery-earthy notes to reduced tart berries.
From the producer: Catherine Bernard was a journalist with Libération Newspaper, first in Paris and then Montpellier. But in 2003, turning 40, newly divorced and with two young children, she needed a change of direction.
Originally from Brittany, Catherine grew up on a farm, her father was a grain dealer, and she wanted to be back in touch with the land. She obtained her certificate in agriculture, specialising in viticulture and oenology and began searching for a small vineyard, initially around Corbières where her friend Maxime Magnon was located. But it was to be the commune of Saint Drézéry, Languedoc that Catherine settled, purchasing 3 hectares of land in 2005, 1 hectare under vine to Grenache and Mourvedre.
In 2006 during her first harvest, she was to discover part of what was sold to her as Grenache on the bill of sale, was in part actually Marselan, a hybrid grape of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon created in the 1960’s. An unforeseen challenge that Catherine embraced. This original parcel is what makes the cuvee, La Carbonelle.
Over the years she has purchased more land and now has 4 hectares of vineyards, with the addition of Cinsault, Alicante Bouchet and Terre Bourret under vine. The soils are a composition of limestone and clay with large pebbles, the vineyards are all certified organic and farmed in a biodynamic spirit.
In the early stages she vinified each harvest in friends’ wineries, until 2015 when she completed the building of her small 'chai'. It is a thoughtfully laid out building with cellar work done by gravity, its design inspired by the work of Australian architect, Glenn Murcutt.
One visit, Catherine explained to me that for her, Languedoc is ‘the forest of France, the land of Freedom. There is a tradition of vines in the region, but not of wine, allowing the freedom to make wine in a very personal way.’
Her production is small with 16,000 to 20,000 bottles per annum. Much of her wine stays in France and her largest export market is Japan, an early adopter. For 13 years, Catherine has worked alone, doing all the vineyard and cellar work herself. In 2018 she was joined by her son Nicolas.
A woman of character and strength, it is impossible not to be inspired by Catherine. Her deft hand and feminine touch produce wines of incredible elegance.