Domaine les 4 Vents

Lucie Fourel
Nancy Cellier

Domaine les 4 Vents, formerly Le Domaine de Lucie is the domaine of Lucie Fourel and her sister, Nancy Cellier. Lucie is a young “vigneronne”, who in 2006 took over 3.5 hectares in Crozes-Hermitage from her parents with the idea of making wines from her family’s vineyards under her own label. In 2013, her sister Nancy, decided to join the family business and the domain name was changed to Domaine les 4 Vents which was the name of the Auberge that Lucie and Nancy’s great grandparents owned next door to where the family house and winery is today. In 2015, Lucie and Nancy inherited the remaining 6.5 hectares from their parents, bringing the domain to its current size of 10 hectares. Before returning to the family estate, Lucie spent a few years as an apprentice with different wineries in the Rhone Valley during which time she developed her philosophy and practices for organic and bio-dynamic farming as well as natural vinification. Domaine Les 4 Vents has both organic and bio-dynamic certifications. Lucie does not use any sulfur during the winemaking process and only just before bottling does she add a minimal dose. The wines are fermented using only indigenous yeasts.

Crozes-Hermitage “Pitchounettes” Blanc

The cuvée “Pitchounettes” is produced from two plots of Roussanne in the village of Mercurol. The soils are sandy-silty alluvial clay with a lot of surface river stones/pebbles. The yields are low, typically around 40hl/ha and the harvesting is done by hand. The fermentation is done in fiberglass tanks and the wine ages “sur lies” for 6 months. The wine is lightly filtered before bottling.

Crozes-Hermitage “La Rage” Blanc

The cuvée “La Rage” is produced from the parcel of the same name in the hamlet of La Roche de Glun. The parcel includes a few rows of Marsanne that were planted 40 years ago. In a normal year Lucie harvests 12 hectoliters which is enough to produce 100 cases. The soils are sandy-silty alluvial clay with a lot of surface river stones/pebbles. The yields are low and the harvesting is done by hand. Half of the grapes are fermented in fiberglass tanks and half are fermented in demi-muids which are five yeasrs old. The wine ages “sur lies” for 6 months and then the parts are assembled. The wine is lightly filtered before bottling.

Crozes-Hermitage “Pitchounettes” Rouge

The cuvée “Pitchounettes” is produced from relatively young vines in the “lieu-dit” Les Chassis near the village of Mercurol. The soil is a sandy-silty alluvial clay with a lot of surface river stones/pebbles. The yields are very low, typically around 30hl/ha and the harvesting is done by hand. The grapes are de-stemmed and then the juice is left to macerate with the skins for three weeks but with very little movement either in the form of pumping over or pushing down the cap. The wine is then allowed to mature and settle for 6 to 8 months in stainless steel tanks and 5 year old demi-muids (600L). The wine is lightly filtered before bottling.

"Aux Racines de Saint-Jaimes"

The cuvée “Aux Racines de Saint-Jaimes” is made from a parcel of 40+ year old vines planted by Lucie’s grandfather. It is located next to the family home and takes its name from the hamlet’s “lieu dit”, Saint-Jaimes. The parcel has a very thin layer of sandy/clay topsoil on top of bedrock. Harvesting by hand is done as late as possible to insure the full ripeness of berry, seed and stems, because the grape bunches are fermented whole. The grapes ferment with their natural yeasts and are left to macerate for a full month with almost no intervention. The wine is then matured for one year in 600L demi-muids (6 years old). The wine is bottled without fining or filtering.

“Les 4 Vents”

The cuvée “Les 4 Vents” is produced from the parcel of the same name in the hamlet of La Roche de Glun. It was planted 30 years ago “a l’ancien” with the vines being trained on a wooden pole “échalas”. Hand harvested grapes are put in the fermentation vat without de-stemming and maceration lasts one month with very little manipulation (one punch down of the cap and a few pump-overs.) The wine is matured for more than a year which is split between 6 months in stainless steel and 8 months in old demi-muids (600L). The wine is bottled without fining or filtering.



Domaine de Lucie, nouvelle étoile dans le ciel des Crozes-Hermitage

Retenez le nom du Domaine de Lucie ! Ses crozes-hermitage "bio" sont déjà délicieux et (encore) abordables.


Nancy Cellier et Lucie Fourel, le domaine de Lucie/ le domaine les 4 Vents, Crozes-Hermitage. © DR

Découverte en vallée du Rhône* est une manifestation organisée tous les deux ans (par l'interprofession, du 2 au 5 mars cette année) pour faire... des découvertes. En voici justement une dans l'univers des crozes-hermitage qui, par ailleurs, nous a semblé bien dynamique. On songe notamment à une véritable effervescence autour des conversions à la viticulture bio, en contraste avec un certain statu quo dans les saint-joseph et cornas, où le peloton des meilleurs garde une marche d'avance sur ses poursuivants sans trop être bousculé.

Bref, pour revenir à notre découverte, il faut descendre jusqu'à Mercurol, dans la Drôme, pour frapper à la porte du "tout nouveau, tout beau" Domaine de Lucie. "Tout nouveau", car le premier millésime remonte à 2010 seulement. Après une première carrière professionnelle dans le commerce international, Lucie Fourel, aujourd'hui rejointe par sa soeur Nancy Cellier, s'est installée en 2006 et dans un premier temps pour faire ses armes. "Les débuts ont été de la viticulture pure, pour connaître mes vignes de syrah et de roussanne, mes terroirs et lancer la conversion au bio dès 2007", explique Lucie. "Tout beau" parce que, depuis qu'elle a quitté la cave-coopérative pour produire ses premiers vins en 2010 donc, le domaine monte en puissance et étoffe sa gamme. Une cuvée de jeunes vignes (moins de 20 ans), Les Pitchounettes, ouvre le feu, avant de passer aux cuvées parcellaires plus consistantes : Les Saviaux et Saint-Jaimes.

Et le millésime 2015 va véritablement faire changer le domaine de dimension, puisqu'aux 4 hectares actuels vont venir s'ajouter les 6 hectares (100 % crozes-hermitage et 90 % de syrah) du domaine des parents de Lucie et Nancy qui partent en retraite. Les cuvées vont prendre du volume. Le potentiel des Saviaux va ainsi passer de 80 ares de vignes aujourd'hui à 5 hectares demain et celui des Saint-Jaimes, de 60 ares à 2 hectares. Quant aux prix des vins, dans l'univers tarifaire très "bariolé" des crozes-hermitage, le Domaine de Lucie reste abordable, entre 13 et 18 euros la bouteille.

Region: Rhône

The Rhône and Loire rivers, if taken together, bring to a geographic focus nearly the whole of France. The two rivers never meet but they pass relatively near each other while flowing in different directions; the Loire flowing north some seven miles west of St. Etienne and the Rhône flowing south about eighteen miles east of St. Etienne, near the town of Chavanay, one of the northern most villages in the Saint Joseph appellation...

I like to imagine that long before cities were built and humans walked the earth, these two immense and powerful aqua-highways had a relationship, something akin to a gravitational pull (that’s another way of saying romance). Even though they could not see each other, I imagine they could feel each other’s presence and in the primordial silence, the movement of each river might have given rise to a song which would have echoed between the Massif Central and the Alps.

The Rhône river begins in the Swiss Alps and flows 810 kilometers until it finally washes into the Mediterranean Sea. The vineyard area referred to generally as the Côtes du Rhône extends from Lyon in the north to Avignon in the south. The northern Rhône, known as the “vignoble septentrional,” is linked to the historic importance of Lyon whose commercial and gastronomic vitality have encouraged the northern Rhône vineyards to flourish. The northern vineyards lie on a narrow band of steep granite hills that represent the eastern extreme of the Massif Central. They run along the western edge of the river for a forty mile stretch between Vienne and Valence. The exceptions are the recently replanted vineyards in Vienne and the Hermitage vineyards, all of which lie on the eastern side. The climates of the northern and southern regions are notably different, with the north being cooler and wetter (a gift from the Swiss Alps that comes with the river). This is a major contributing factor to the extraordinary qualities of the northern Rhône reds which are cool climate Syrahs. The southern Rhône is quite separate from the northern region. It fans out around Avignon some hundred kilometers to the south of Valence. The southern Rhone known as the “vignoble méridional,” benefits from a Mediterranean influence which brings warmer and dryer air. It is here that one encounters lavender, olive trees and Grenache. The geology and topology of the southern Rhône are extremely variable with rivers and glaciers leaving certain zones with an abundance of surface stones. It is the Grenache grape that above all offers a thread of continuity to the red wines of the region.

The A.O.C. scheme of the Rhône Valley resembles that of Beaujolais and by French A.O.C. standards, it is rather simply organized, but of course not without its exceptions and contradictions. The appellations between Lyon and Avignon (with the exception of the Diois vineyards along the Drôme river in the Pre-Alps) are collectively known as Cotes du Rhône and include 171 communes spread throughout six départemants. The most basic appellation in the hierarchy covers wines that are labeled as Côtes du Rhône but technically referred to as Côtes du Rhône Régionales. Virtually all of these vineyards are located in the southern four départemants: Drôme, Ardèche, Vaucluse and Gard. Also located in these same four départemants, is the next level in the hierarchy, which is called Côtes du Rhône Villages. It includes 95 communes with a select 18 that are authorized to add their specific village name on the label. At the top of the order are the 13 Crus of Côtes du Rhône which do use their village of origin names on the label but not the word “Cru”. Eight of the “crus” lie in the northern Rhone: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Château Grillet, Saint Joseph, Cornas Saint Péray, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage. Five lie in the southern part: Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel and Lirac. There are additionally two villages whose red wines figure in the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation, that have been given a separate A.O.C. for sweet wines known as vin doux natural. These are the villages of Rasteau and Beaumes de Venise. To finish out the Rhône Valley viticole, there are four independent appellations in the southern Rhône: Côtes du Vivarais, Coteaux du Tricastin, Côtes du Ventoux and Côtes du Luberon. All of this is to show that simple is not necessarily synonymous with simplistic.

When I started in the wine business in 1979, the wines of the Rhone Valley, with the exception of Hermitage and Châteauneuf du Pape, were little known or appreciated in the United States. At the time, a tasting of Saint Joseph wines seemed very exotic. This is in stark contrast to the enormous popularity the Rhône Valley’s wines enjoyed today. I don’t imagine that the ancient Romans would be surprised.