Domaine de Martinolles

Blanquette de Limoux
Cremant de Limoux
Jean Claude Mas

The Limoux wine region is at the western most point of the Languedoc and is located just south of the medieval city of Carcassonne. It has a unique geoclimate, a situation due to the dual influences of the Atlantic which brings cool and wet weather and the Mediterranean which delivers hot and dry conditions.

The Domaine de Martinolles was owned by the Vergnes family from 1926 until 2011 when the estate was sold to the native Languedocoen vigneron, Jean Claude Mas. The vineyards lie on the same hillsides that the monks of St. Hilaire cultivated in 1531 when they produced the world’s first sparkling wine.

The vines, which are planted in chalky soils at elevations ranging from 200 to 600 meters, are worked traditionally without herbicides or fertilizers. Domaine de Martinolles is a member of Terra Vitis, an organization that certifies the practice of sustainable agriculture.

Le Berceau, Blanquette de Limoux

The domain limits their yields in the vineyard to 40 hectoliters per hectare. Harvesting is done by hand and the Blanquette de Limoux is kept for a minimum of nine months on the lees before being disgorged. The “Le Berceau” which translates to “cradle”, a reference to the birthplace of sparkling wine, is produced from the Mauzac grape, a traditional grape of this region. It is produced using the Methode Traditionnelle (Champenoise).

Chateau Martinolles, Cremant de Limoux Vintage

The Cremant is produced only in the best vintages. The yields in the vineyard are limited to 40 hectoliters per hectare and harvesting is done by hand. The Cremant is produced from blending three grape varieties. The Chardonnay grape, accounts for 70% of the blend with 20% of Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir finishing it. The Cremant is produced using the Methode Traditionnelle (Champenoise) and it is aged at least 15 months on the lees before being disgorged.

Chateau Martinolles, Cremant de Limoux Rosé Non-Vintage

The Cremant Rosé is produced by blending 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir. The yields in the vineyard are limited to 40 hectoliters per hectare and harvesting is done by hand. Whole clusters are put in the press and the juice is very gently extracted. Fermentations are carried out in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures. The Cremant Rosé is produced using the Methode Traditionnelle (Champenoise) and it is aged at least 15 months on the lees before being disgorged. It offers a floral nose with a palate that moves from fresh red fruit to a light citric finish.

Domaine de Martinolles, Chardonnay VDP de L’Aude

The harvest is carried out at dawn to protect the grapes from the midday heat and oxidation. The crushed grapes rest with their skins for a day before pressing, giving the wine more body and texture.

Domaine de Martinolles, Pinot Noir VDP de L’Aude

One of the principal grape varieties in the Languedoc during the 15th century was the Pinot Noir. The Vergnes though are the first in the Aude region to experiment with the Pinot Noir grape during this current era. Their 25 acres of Pinot Noir vines are now ten years old and are starting to produce very flavorful wine. The vines are planted on limestone hillsides in cooler areas of the region hoping to find there an expression of Pinot Noir that is delicate, finely aromatic and balanced.

Region: Languedoc-Roussillon

Vineyards of antiquity – if any viticultural region of France has claim to being the oldest, the Greek vineyards around Agde that date to the 5th century BC and the discovery of pre-historic fossils of grapevines in caves outside of Montpellier give the Languedoc quite the hand to play. Geographically, this expansive area reaches from Limoux to Costières de Nîmes linking the appellations of Southwest France with those of the Rhone Valley. It is sandwiched between the Massif Central mountains, the Pyrénées mountains, and the Mediterranean Sea.  Not surprisingly, the varied areas of the Languedoc have strikingly different terroirs with vineyards pushing up against mountain ranges with vines as high as 500 meters, vines planted along the Mediterranean coastal plains and seemingly endless scrubland in between. In addition to a range of terroirs that span geological periods from the primary to the quaternary, and include virtually every soil type found in France, there are significant differences in rainfall, humidity, sun-hours and wind that shape the typicity of the individual vineyards...

Known for producing massive quantities of “vin ordinaire” in the mid nineteenth century, the Languedoc vineyards, like so many others throughout France, were wiped out by phylloxera by the end of the century. Despite the efforts of the government and the growers to form coops in the first half of the 20th century, the vineyards were slow to come back, and it wasn’t until the 1970’s and 1980’s that the Languedoc renaissance came about. Now, it is certainly a breeding ground for alternative minded vintners; the spirit of independence coming probably from the Occitan roots of the region and the fact that the area lagged behind other wine producing regions in receiving recognition for its wines.

It is a region that with few exceptions has significantly less rain fall than other wine producing regions in France, making it easier to farm organically. Furthermore, the Languedoc vintners have turned to both bio-dynamic farming and “natural” winemaking in surprising numbers. These choices have been encouraged by the comradery and solidarity that is evident among the local vintners of each village.