Domaine Philémon

Mathieu Vieules

Domaine Philémon is located in Villeneuve-sur-Vere, a small village on the Vere river in between Albi and Cordes in the northeast quadrant of the Gaillac appellation. The Vieules family have had a vineyard in Villeneuve since 1804. Today the vineyard is run by Mathieu Vieules who grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportions. All his land is farmed organically with the vineyard being certified in 2013. The domain takes its name from Mathieu’s great-grandfather, Philemon, who in 1914 was the first generation to produce wine commercially. In 2003 Mathieu became the first to estate bottle his family’s wines. Along with his other crops, Mathieu has twenty hectares of vineyards in production along the Cordes plateau on south facing slopes with a calcerous soil. They are planted almost entirely to the traditional Gaillac grape varieties: Loin de L’oeil, Mauzac and Muscadelle for the whites, and Braucol (Fer Servadou), Duras, Prunelart and Jurançon Noir for the reds. The vines are largely trained in the gobelet fashion meaning that they are head pruned and yields are kept exceedingly low; 40 hl/h for the whites and 30hl/h for the reds. A good proportion of the vines are more than fifty years old and the harvest is done entirely by hand. In addition to being certified organic the domain is a member of Nature et Progrès, an organization that certifies natural wine.

Gaillac Perlé Nature

The Blanc Perlé, which is sometimes labeled as Gaillac Fraîcheur Perlé by other producers, has been produced in Gaillac since the 1950’s. The freshness in the wine is achieved by preserving some of the natural CO2 that occurs during the vinification, although for decades most producers have added CO2. Mathieu does not add CO2 or anything else to his wines as is certified by the agency, Nature et Progrès. The wine has evolved from being a blend of two or three varieties to being produced from a single variety, the indigenous Loin de L’Oeil. The grapes are pressed slowly and gently in a pneumatic press. Because of the low yields this wine fills the palate with a wonderful concentration of flavors while retaining a freshness that is underscored by mineral, petrol and citrus notes. Mathieu adds 15mg/L of SO2 before bottling.

Gaillac Rouge "Braucol"

The cuvée "Braucol" is produced from a one-hectare parcel named "Croix d'Azal" planted by Mathieu in 2003. Braucol is the name used in Gaillac for the Fer Servadou grape. This cuvée is a wonderful expression of Braucol showing its typical woodsy floral aromas and spiciness. The word “braucol” derives from the root “brau” which in Girondin patois signifies taureau, the bull. This is no raging bull , but one who lives peacefully in the pasture content to smell the flowers.

Gaillac Rouge "Duras"

The cuvée "Duras" is named for the single varietal from which it is made. Duras has a long history in the Tarn region and is certainly one of the pillars of Gaillac’s red wine production. Domaine Philemon has two hectares of Duras, one parcel planted by Mathieu’s father in 1990 and another by Mathieu in 2003. The Duras is typically the first of the red varieties to be harvested at Philemon. As a result of Mathieu’s severe pruning the low yielding vines produce a wine that is very dark with purple hues. The wine exhibits the region’s typically savory and spicy flavors which flow through the palate without any discernible tannins.

Gaillac Rouge "Prunelart"

Prunelart (also spelled Prunelard) is an historic grape variety of the Tarn region that practically disappeared after phylloxera. As Jancis Robinson puts it, “Old, rare, recently rescued Southwest French variety, parent of Cot (Malbec).” Mathieu planted one hectare “en gobelet” in 2010 on soils of iron-rich clay (rhenzine). Because of remarkably low yields the production is less than 200 cases per vintage. After harvest, the grape bunches are de-stemmed and then vinified in a cement tank. Maceration lasts two weeks but little pumping over is done in an effort to avoid extracting too much tannin. As with all the domain’s wines, a small dose (20mg/L) of SO2 is added only at the time of bottling. Similar to Cahors, the wine has a dark color with scents and flavors of plums, walnuts and licorice, but the wine is warmer and more generous.

Gaillac Rouge "Jurancon Noir"

After a few years of tasting Jurançon Noir from tank and begging Mathieu to bottle it separately, he finally agreed in 2013. The grapes are hand harvested and put into the cement fermentation tank in whole clusters for a semi-carbonic fermentation with indigenous yeasts. The Jurançon Noir is an old variety local to the southwest of France valued for its vigor and color and used primarily for blending. According to Jancis Robinson, it is a cross between Folle Blanche and Cot (Malbec). As Mathieu explains, in order to produce quality wine this variety must be severely pruned and handled gently in the winery. The result is a dark, spicy and slightly bitter wine that is 11% alc, when fully ripe.


Region: Southwest

The wine appellations of southwest France are spread throughout ten different “départments”. The Romans called the area Aquitania, “land of waters”, and it has been described as the area of few roads but many rivers. This group of appellations is certainly the most far ranging and diverse to be brought together under one geographical umbrella...

Although the area is spread out, it is given contours by its impressive natural boundaries. The great mountain range known as the Massif Central forms the eastern boundary. This vast range gives rise to the Dordogne, the Lot and the Tarn rivers, which flow westward toward the Atlantic Ocean and have been so crucial to the development of the region’s vineyards. The southern extreme is formed by the Pyrénées, the source of the Garonne River whose northern route passes through Toulouse and Bordeaux. The region is met on its western edge by the Atlantic Ocean.

Within the southwest of France there are many cultural and culinary traditions. Around Toulouse one finds a distinctly southern, “Provençal” influence, while the Pyrénées is home to the Basque culture as well as the Béarnaise. Further north one passes through Gascony on route to Bordeaux and Périgord.

When the French talk about abandoning the charms of nouvelle cuisine for good old country cooking or “cuisine du terroir”, the Southwest is the first “terroir” that springs to mind. Not surprisingly, the wines of southwest France also offer a welcome antidote to “nouvelle” wines and we have chosen to work with vignerons who prefer to refine the quality of their traditional wines rather than abandon them. Many of the appellations in the Southwest have ancient and illustrious histories such as the Gaillac vineyards which date back to the Gauls and were widely planted by the Romans in the first century. In the fourteenth century over half the wine shipped from the port of Bordeaux was from the Cahors region. Reflective of the cultural diversity is the diversity of wine styles and grape varieties grown in the Southwest, many of which are particular to their appellations. Red varieties from the Carmenet family such as Fer Servadou, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are grown throughout the region as well as Tannat, Malbec and Negrette from the Cotoïdes family. White varieties of the region include Len de l’el, Mauzac, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. There is a bucolic quality in this corner of France, a quality which is mirrored in the rich tapestry of terroirs and local grape varieties that produce these most savory, delicious and charming wines.